Pengwern Books to host inspiring author on International Women’s Day

A Mid Wales woman, who survived ovarian cancer and wrote a book about her epic 4,000 mile journey around Wales to raise £11,000 for cancer charities, is to make an appearance at a special event in Shrewsbury on International Women’s Day.

Ursula Martin reaching the finish line after her epic 3,700-mile journey around Wales
Ursula Martin reaching the finish line after her epic 3,700-mile journey around Wales

Ursula Martin, author of ‘One Woman Walks Wales’, will be talking about her adventures and signing copies of her newly published book at Pengwern Books, in Fish Street, on Thursday March 8.

Ursula, who was born in Swansea and currently lives in Llanidloes, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of just 31. After being treated, and determined not to sink into self-pity, she decided to walk between her Mid Wales home and follow-up hospital appointments in Bristol.

It inspired a journey that took her across, around, up, over and through all of Wales and its borderlands, including Shrewsbury, as she walked over 3,700 miles, raising money and awareness for the need for early detection of the disease. She had planned to take seven months. In the end it took 18 and she walked on through often gruelling harsh winter weather.

“I was a plump, unpractised woman in a raincoat and woollen hat,” she said.

With a tarpaulin and a bivvy bag, Ursula chose to sleep wild much of the time, staying in a forest, a yurt, a campsite, a hostel, a polytunnel, a barn, a caravan, black plastic pipes, a ruined cottage, a club doorway, a public park, a pub garden, a golf course and a church among others.

At times she was driven to the point of exhaustion and acute physical discomfort but refused to give up. Her intense love of nature and the landscape spurred her on.

Her book is not only an inspiring story of her journey around her homeland, but the extraordinary generosity of strangers who offered her meals and accommodation along the way. She wrote a popular blog during her travels.

‘I’m alive because of luck and doctors. Walking didn’t cure my ovarian cancer, the NHS did that. But walking both healed me and made me feel normal again,” she said.

Susan Caroline, of Pengwern Books, said: “We’re very excited to be hosting Ursula on International Women’s Day. It will be an opportunity to meet this inspiring woman who has achieved this incredible feat and learn how and why she did it.”

The event, starting at 7pm, is free entry and includes refreshments. People wanting to attend are urged to book a place in advance by emailing: pengwernbooks@live.co.uk or by contacting Pengwern Books on 01743 232236.

Broadcaster and writer Clare Balding has heaped praise on the book, describing it as: “A rare combination of an epic tale of an extraordinary adventure and a delicately woven study of the kindness of random strangers.”

Ursula is now cancer-free and planning her next big adventure overseas. Her book is published by Honno.

Only 46% of all UK women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will still be alive five years later, but survival can be over 90% for those diagnosed early.