Never giving up - reaching the finish line after eight years and aged 80

12th June 2019

It took 8 years but finally Bela Hatvany, aged 80, reached Overton Hill in April this year. Starting on Ivinghoe Beacon in October 2011, it has proven to be a test of commitment to complete the Trail's 87 miles.

Most significantly, Bela was struck by pneumonia in 2018 and very nearly died. ‘It was a real victory to make it through to the finish line in his 80th year, with a 25km walk on the last 2 days!’, said his son, Sandor.

It was also an international effort because Bela now lives in France and his sons in the US. Why travel so far to go for a walk? Sandor replies, ‘My father was born in England so we like to come back but also the walking is much more open and unrestricted in the UK compared to the US. Years ago, as my father and I were walking in California and accidentally went astray, we were accosted by a helicopter and a loudspeaker telling us we were on private property and to get off immediately! Pretty sure nothing like that would happen on the Ridgeway… but the route is so incredibly well marked, it would be hard to stray too far.’

The Ridgeway also seemed an ideal choice for Bela because the terrain is relatively level and the hillforts and other historic features add interest. ‘You really feel the centuries connect as you walk’, said Sandor. ‘There were also stunning views stretching as far as the eye could see’.

Bela completed The Ridgeway over seven visits, with friends and family keeping him company. He explained, ‘All my life I have enjoyed walking with family and friends along the footpaths. Usually we take a train to a little station, walk, stop at a pub or eat a sandwich, walk, camp or stay at a B&B, walk etc. All the time we are enjoying each other’s company, talking and rejoicing in the extraordinary privilege of using this amazing network.’

More news from the Trail »

Share this story:

Finish line in sight