After the success of Petersfield’s first walking festival this year, the good news is that it will be back in 2023.
Entitled A Walk For All Seasons, next year’s festival will be trying out a new format.
Instead of one intensive week of 47 walks at the end of August, the 2023 programme will be spread across the whole year.
And this years festival is in part being made possible by the generosity of an inspirational, local adventurer.
On Friday, February 3, Rebecca Stephens MBE of South Harting will be giving a festival fund-raising talk at Churchers College.
She originally trained as a journalist and pursued that career for some ten years, becoming deputy editor of the Financial Times magazine Resident Abroad.
In 1989 Rebecca accompanied an expedition attempting the North East Ridge of Mount Everest.
She climbed to the first camp at 7,100m and made a decision she wanted to climb the mountain herself.
Rebecca returned to the highest mountain in the world in 1993 on a British expedition.
She, and the expedition, reached the summit on May 17, making her the first British woman to accomplish the feat.
On November 22, 1994, she became the third woman, and the first British woman, to climb the continental summits of Mount Everest at 8,848 metres; Aconcagua, 6,961m; Denali, 6,194m; Kilimanjaro, 5,895m; Vinson, 4,892m; Elbrus, 5,642m; Puncak Jaya, 4,884m.
At Churchers, Rebecca will be talking about the joy she finds in the mountains, as much through walking the valleys as reaching the highest peaks.
She will also reveal the valuable lesson she learned from the beauty of the landscape, and how she still uses this knowledge to shape her approach to life.
Rebecca is currently using the South Downs to help prepare for an expedition she’s leading to Mount Kenya in March.
Although not quite the same league as Everest, Rebecca describes Mount Kenya as her “favourite mountain”.
She is looking forward to standing on its summit once again in March, and looking across the “vast obtuse triangular shadow of the mountain cast across the savannah where life itself began.”
Much less populated than Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya is apparently surrounded by pristine moorland and rainforest, so there’s also a real possibility of seeing game.
And at 4,985m it is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro.
Alas, this once in a lifetime expedition is not a free event on the Petersfield Walking Festival programme.
Instead, places are available on a first come, first served basis through World Expeditions.
So, if either your bucket or new year’s resolution lists include conquering a world peak, then why not consider joining Rebecca.
The dates are March 4 to March 11 and details can be found on the World Expeditions website at https://worldexpeditions.com/
Tickets to the talk by Rebecca Stephens MBE can be bought through the festival website at https://petersfieldwalkingfestival.co.uk/
Alternatively, if Mount Kenya is a bit rich for your blood, check out the festival website to find out what exciting walks are planned throughout 2023.
Whatever your fitness level, interests or availability, there is bound to be something that helps bring out your inner explorer.