12 Sep 2011

The Wild Woman of Exmoor

Hope Bourne died in 2010 age 91.  She was an extraordinary lady who lived for more than 20 years on Exmoor, on her own, in an old leaky caravan.  There was no running water, no electricity and she hunted for her food with a gun.  I first came across her when I found a book she had written called 'Wild Harvest', and was fascinated by her lifestyle. 

Her income was from articles for a local newspaper, about wild life and living on Exmoor - it did not amount to much, so she had to supplement it by growing vegetables and hunting for food.  All the skins from rabbits etc. she cured and used as floor coverings, cushion covers, and bed coverings.  There was no transport where she lived so she walked everywhere, up to 20 miles a day, in a pair of old wellingtons stuffed with straw.  Water was hauled back to her caravan from a stream, wood was collected from the hedgerows for fuel for her little stove and fruit and berries that she foraged, were a regular part of her diet. 

It was a very hard life, but she depended on no-one and was proud of the fact that she took nothing from the state. Eventually she had to move out of the caravan, due to the fact that her asthma worsened, and moved into a community housing scheme.  She never used the electricity in the house or the heating, but slept in front of the fire on the floor, and gave the rest of the house over to her bantams.

Her independance meant everything to her, and the freedom of an outdoor life.  She was an incredible woman.

6 comments:

  1. It always amazes me to read about such people, and admire the way that they choose to live in the modern world.
    I think that we need eccentrics like her to stop and think about our own way of living.
    Flighty xx

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  2. I agree Flighty - it just shows that it can be done if necessary. The way things are going with the economy I think she had the right idea.

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  3. What an amazing life. I certainly couldn't live that way but it does make you question things which we take for granted nowadays.

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  4. You are right Jo - most of us wouldn't know where to start and there are so many things I would miss, she only had a battery radio to keep her company on long,winter nights. No computer - how would we blog!!

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  5. I agree with both Flighty and Jo - a thought provoking lifestyle, but not one which I could lead. I really admire her determination to live life on her own terms.

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  6. The last of her kind I think Caro - we are all just too soft now.

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