On April 1, 25-year old Becky Sampson and her 10-year old paint horse Bertie’s Quest set off on an adventure of a lifetime: a four-year ride that traces the ancient silk trading routes. The journey will take her over two continents and 15 countries ending in Japan.
Her route will cover Western and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, China and Japan. Challenges ahead include the Tien Shan Mountains and the Taklamakan Desert (which translates as “he who goes in does not come out”)
Sampson’s goal is to raise £15,000 for the charity SOS Children (the world’s largest orphan charity), £1 for each of the 15,000 of the route. Along her ride she will visit villages built and run by the charity and will deliver letters and pictures from schoolchildren in Britain.
Sampson’s interest in long-distance riding is long lived. She has dreamed of a long distance ride since she was 10 and started riding longer distances several years ago when she rode her horse home from university. This experience gave her an introduction to the challenges faced by long riders: where to ride, how to deal with carrying food, wear on horse shoes, and where to find places to spend the night.as on her way to Kashgar – a major trading port on the Silk Road.
Sampson intends to cross Europe during the northern summer and spend winter working in Turkey as a teacher (she has a certificate in teaching English as a Second Language), before pressing on.
In 2010, she intends crossing into Iran and through the Central Asian states, wintering in Kyrgyzstan.
The following year she will enter China and head for Xian, then Shanghai. If everything goes to plan, she will journey by boat in 2012 to Osaka and then head on to Tokyo, then Nara.