At 82, Jane Dotchin Saddles Up for Her 50th 1,000KM Ride Across England

Seasoned horsewoman Jane Dotchin and her faithful steed Diamond are at it again. Just as Dotchin has done every year since 1972, she has set out from her home in Northumberland, England, on a seven-week ride through the countryside, bound for Inverness, Scotland.

Again this year, Dotchin’s disabled Jack Russell terrier completes the unlikely traveling trio.

Dotchin is 82, and wears an eyepatch — and, most of the time, either a smile or a determined forward gaze. If all you looked at was her vigorous approach to her annual adventure, you’d think she was in her physical prime.

Dotchin is a prime example that it’s not the years in the life, but the life in those years that count. The now-familiar 1,000km trail seems to suit her.

“There is always something interesting happening and there is never a dull moment,” she told Kingdoms TV.

That curious spirit seems to have drawn Dotchin out onto the long trail in the first place. It all started in her young 30s when she recruited help from her mother to care for her ponies. The elder Dotchin “wasn’t that keen” on looking after her daughter’s Haflinger stallion, so Jane saddled up.

The rest is now a history spanning six decades. Dotchin rounds up the little crew to rest and camp when they need to, and tends not to ride in foul weather. She eats a simple diet of porridge, oatcakes, and cheese, and Diamond grazes freely on a long tether.

Dinky, who has deformed front legs, travels in a saddle bag but does sometimes walk alongside in softer, grassy segments. Dotchin said she “manages fine…but doesn’t like stony ground.”

 

Perennial challenges include traffic and litter — which Dotchin has condemned as “appalling” — but a robust network of friends along the way provides a welcome respite.

In 2020, she earned the British Horse Society’s Exceptional Achievement Award. At the time, she brushed away any fawning, demurely calling the event “a bit of a surprise”.