When you read about crusty, misanthropic mountain man hermits who reject modern society in favor of living a close-to-the-bone, hunting and fishing-based existence out in the wild, they’re almost always men, and almost always American. But here’s a story, or rather, an obituary (hat tip to Rabbit Stew for the find) about a British woman who could have taught Jeremiah Johnson a thing or two.
From this story in the UK Telegraph:
Hope Bourne, who died on August 22 aged 91, was an author who celebrated life on Exmoor, where she lived for more than 60 years; her knowledge of this beautiful corner of England ˆ of its flora and fauna and its traditional communities ˆ was encyclopedic, and was gained by submission to a lifestyle which few in the 20th century would have dared even to contemplate.
For more than two decades ˆ between 1970 and the early 1990s ˆ Hope Bourne lived in isolation in an old, leaking caravan in the ruins of a farm at Ferny Ball above Sherdon Water, about four miles from Withypool. To her, untamed nature was not just something she desired, it was also a means of testing human resilience and ingenuity.
At Ferny Ball she kept bantams. A small but wiry figure, she was often seen in pursuit of wood pigeon, deer, rabbit or hare, wielding her American-made .22 rifle or 12-bore shotgun ˆ “What one didn’t get, t’other did,” she would say. To feed herself, as well as shooting for the pot, she fished and grew vegetables. She ate 1lb of meat a day (some of which was none too fresh) and drank from a stream. Her caravan was 14ft long and 6ft wide, providing only one room which was festooned with the skins, antlers and hooves of animals she had slaughtered and gutted herself. At the centre was a wood-burning stove. She converted two of the three bunks into bookshelves and slept in the third.
The rest of the story is well worth a read. There are people who pretend they live life on their own terms, and then there are people who actually do. Hope Bourne was obviously the latter.