Make The Connection

August 26, 2019 | By Ohio Wesleyan University

Transformative Trek

Ohio Wesleyan Students Walk Through United Kingdom History

Ohio Wesleyan students walk Offa’s Dyke Path and explore the historical, scientific, and cultural factors that have impacted the region since the Stone Age. (Photo by Will Kopp)

Name: Peyton Hardesty ’20
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Major: Environmental Science
OWU Connection Experience: “Walking through Time: History, Literature, Geology and Environment along Offa’s Dyke Path in Wales and England”

Hardesty spent two weeks in June hiking the 177-mile Offa’s Dyke Path, a national walkway, exploring the historical, scientific, and cultural factors that have affected the site since the Stone Age. Supported by an OWU Connection Theory-to-Practice Grant, Hardesty traveled with Ellen Arnold, associate professor of history, and Will Kopp, chief communications officer, also with students Gracie Clevenger ’21 of Canal Winchester, Ohio; Kyle Hogan ’20 of Centerburg, Ohio; and John Keller ’20 of Clarkston, Michigan. 

Why Did You Choose This Owu Connection Experience?

“I am very passionate about nature and her landscapes. This experience was an absolute dream for me – I have dreamed of the English countryside ever since I was young. To have been in a place that inspired some of my favorite poets, writers, and artists was deeply powerful. Moreover, I yearn for the quiet steadiness in myself that really only formulates once I have been walking for quite some time, and so I benefited a lot from this trip – physically, mentally, and spiritually.”

What Was Your Favorite Moment of the Experience?

“There was a day toward the end of the trip that meant a lot to me. It rained for most of the day and we had a smaller hiking group because a couple folks took the day off.

“The hike proved to be rather challenging – lots of steep climbs and descents in sequence. Before one of our final hills, we all paused at a church to rest. This hill was, without a doubt, the steepest hill I have ever climbed – about halfway up, I turned around, and it was like looking straight down at where we had started. The sheerness of it was totally exhilarating.

“When we reached the summit, Will said to the group something like, ‘Isn't this great? Don’t you just feel alive? This is what it’s all about.’

“And with the mist on my face, the exhaustion of my body, and the wide-eyed gratification of the landscape around me, I really did feel it. That moment moved me forever.”

What Lessons Did You Learn from the Experience?

“I grew a lot on this trip. I feel stronger and more grounded in myself and my intentions. I feel more capable to tackle massive challenges, thanks to this trip.

“This kind of thing is what defines a person – these experiences are what people will remember forever. I don’t think that I ever would have been able to go on a trip like this if it weren’t for the generosity and resources at OWU. I am deeply grateful.”

Why Did You Choose Ohio Wesleyan?

“I wanted a small school where I could have close connections with my professors.”

What Are Your Plans After Graduation?

“I’d like to move to the Pacific Northwest and farm either in the field or in a hatchery.”