80-year-old woman completes annual 600-mile trek with her pony, a seven-week adventure she began in 1972

An 80-year-old woman who wears an eyepatch is on an annual trek with her pony from England to the Highlands - on a seven-week adventure which began in 1972. Jane Dotchin packs her saddlebags onto her trusty pony's back every year, and heads to the hills from her home near Hexham, Northumberland on an epic 600-mile trek to Inverness, covering between 15 and 20 miles a day. She set off on August 31 with her steed, Diamond, aged 13, and her disabled Jack Russell, Dinky for company, from the off-grid smallholding where she lives. She carries everything she needs including her tent, food and just a few belongings - and despite wearing an eyepatch is determined to continue as long as she can. She first got a taste for long distance trekking when she trotted off to the idyllic West Country around 40 years ago. Jane said: "My mother would look after my other ponies but she wasn't that keen on looking after my Halfinger stallion, so I rode him down to Somerset to see a friend, which is about 300 miles. "It was a bit of a hard slog, but it was good." After that initial journey, she caught the taste for the open road, and travelled to visit friends near Fort Augustus, near Loch Ness, Highlands, every autumn since. The journey takes around seven weeks depending on weather and Jane tries to drop into see people she has met over the years. She lives on porridge, oatcakes and cheese, and carries an old mobile phone which has a battery which lasts six weeks - although getting signal can be a problem. Jane said: "I refuse to go slogging on through pouring wet rain. "There are a few different routes I can take depending on the weather. "I don't want to go over hilltops in foul weather, but I work it out on the way. "I don't bother with maps I just keep to the routes I know. "It's is nice to go and see them again - I ring them up in the morning to say I'm going to be there in the evening. "I don't warn them too far in advance, because if the weather suddenly changes or I decide to stop early then they can be left wondering where I've got to." Disabled Jack Russell Dinky, who has deformed front legs, travels in a saddle bag.

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