A MUM-OF-TWO is gearing up for an extraordinary 38-day odyssey across some of the remotest wilderness on Earth, with a trip on the fabled Trans-Siberian Railway.
Bev Heath, from Leigh, will set out on a trek of more than 13,000km from Manchester to Moscow via Warsaw and St Petersburg, before plunging into the farthest reaches of Siberia and finishing on the Pacific coast in the town of Vladivostok.
Her once-in-a-lifetime journey will see her cross seven time zones and eight countries, and will also involve staying with a local family despite her only speaking a few words of the Russian language.
Bev, who works as a teaching assistant at Culcheth High School and a secretary at Newchurch Primary School, will also be raising money for Wigan and Leigh Hospice when she leaves the confines of her desk for the wide open spaces of Russia, in a trip which she says will be the realisation of a long-held ambition.
Bev, 53, said: “Years ago I used to look at maps with my son and I thought then the Siberian journey would be fantastic. Now the children have grown up I’ve got the opportunity and thought I should go for it.
“Part of me is really excited and part is wondering what I have done. That’s one of the things that encouraged me to do it for the hospice, as I thought if I was raising money for a good cause I wouldn’t be able to bottle out or stop half way through.
“I’m also a little apprehensive about some of the Russian hostels I’m going to be staying in, and there’s some long overnight train journeys included too.”
Bev developed her love of long-distance rail journeys around six years ago in South Africa, and honed it in preparation for her Siberian adventure by travelling on trains to Marrakesh last year.
She said: “The main thing I like about trains is the people you get to meet. Last year on the way to Morocco I was talking to someone and it turned out he was the former drummer from the Happy Mondays. This time I’ll be travelling to really remote areas. I’m stopping for three days at Lake Baikal, which is supposed to be absolutely fantastic.
“It’s about getting the chance to see things that are a bit different.”
Bev’s travelling also means abandoning her familiar surroundings and leaving her family for more than a month, and she says her mum Vera Kay and her two sons Andy, 25, and Paul, 23, have reacted to her taste for adventure in different ways.
She said: “My sons think it’s brilliant, and I think they would both like to come along if they could. I’ve passed on my love of travelling to them.
“My mum is really worried about me going on my own though, and I’m not allowed to go until she’s sewn a St Christopher into my bag.”
Bev leaves Manchester on Thursday morning and will be blogging about her exploits during her trip at http://bevstranssiberianadventure.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/mad-woman-abroad-welcome-to-my-trans.html