Off the beaten track: 1920s Eve leads the way with a donkey by her side

Off the beaten track: 1920s Eve leads the way with a donkey by her side

Eve and Hotep, Shap Fell, Cumbria, U.K. Sept 1923

When Gill Brackenbury opened the notebooks left by an English grandmother she hardly knew, she had unwittingly stumbled across something extraordinary.

Eve’s Journey: 1923 is Doris Eve Brackenbury’s diary of her walk from England to Scotland with her pack donkey, Hotep. The author tells us more…

Eve was spirited, droll, controversial, always had an enquiring mind and loved to shock people – oh, and always enjoyed her evening whisky. 

Being brought up in New Zealand I barely knew Eve, my English grandmother. When she died she left a handful of rather nondescript notebooks, diaries of her ‘Donkey Tour’. I was lucky – they were given to me. 

Although quite curious about them I didn’t appreciate what I had until beginning to read them: I was completely floored. What an amazing journey in 1923 for a lone young woman and her delightful donkey – and what an unusual, intelligent, and resourceful person she was. This was a story to share! 

The authenticity of her 30 year old voice is striking: daily intimate diary notes about her thoughts and feelings, her sometimes risky encounters, humorous observations and some off-the-wall interests and experiences. And all the while you are immersed in the 1920s.

Eve’s long walk would have been very lonely and more hazardous without Hotep, her donkey. Hotep was reassuring company and together they tackled some dreadful weather and isolated moors. There was hardship and no high-tech weather gear at that time – just strong shoes, breeches and a warm coat. So too they shared hot days, beautiful countryside and some funny happenings.

Eve loved Hotep and seemed tuned-in to how her donkey was feeling; talking and sometimes singing to her. She loved Hotep’s calm, quiet (mostly) and accepting presence which gained a lot of friendly attention. Hotep also protected Eve and her intervention once saved Eve from harm. Even when she was exhausted, Eve made sure that Hotep was dry, safe and fed at night. 

Eve and Hotep, Shap Fell, Cumbria, U.K. Sept 1923

I began this writing project in the 1990s and as time went on much more information became available on the internet. The more I read and researched to validate, or provide footnote documentation for, Eve’s experiences the more I realised I had a rather unique story about a brave and at times outrageous woman who did some extraordinary things. Her very matter-of-fact attitude to men and sex, courage to push boundaries and her wry humour captured my imagination.

As Eve’s story unfolds, however, there is laid bare a very human predicament. With this in mind it wasn’t until recently that I felt it was the right time to publish her story. Now this is done, I hope that with some laughter and perhaps some sadness you can enjoy Eve’s and Hotep’s journey.

Eve and Hotep, Dyneley House Private Hotel, Skipton, U.K. 1923


Courtesy of Gill, there is a free hard copy of the book available for one lucky Donkey Wise follower. Just comment below, and the person who posts our favourite comment will receive a book!


Thank you to everyone who entered, I enjoyed reading all of your comments! Donkey Wise is delighted to announce Terri Posner as the winner. A personally signed copy of Eve’s Journey: 1923 is on its way to you. Congratulations!!!


  1. This contest is open to Donkey Wise followers anywhere in the world, aged 18 and over.
  2. Entrants agree to allow Donkey Wise to publish their name on the Donkey Wise website and Facebook page.
  3. To enter, simply post a comment below, and be sure to enter your email address in the box that comes up.
  4. Comments must be posted here. Comments posted on the Donkey Wise Facebook page will not be counted.
  5. Only one comment per person will be counted.
  6. The deadline for entries is 10pm UK time (5pm USA EST) on Wednesday 2nd December 2020.
  7. Donkey Wise will select one comment as the winner.
  8. The winner will receive an email within three days of the deadline and will have three days to respond. If the winner has not responded, a new winner will be selected.

If you have any questions regarding this giveaway contest, please contact Donkey Wise at

Best of luck!

Eve’s Journey:

Free eBook!!! Eve’s Journey: 1923 is available in eBook format. Download your free eBook here.

To purchase a hard copy of the book, you can email Gill direct at:

Related Links:

Have donkey, will travel: Woman’s intrepid 1923 journey revealed

Find more books about travelling with donkeys, training and care, donkey rescue, fiction and real-life stories on the Donkey Wise Donkey Books & DVDs and Donkey Books for Children pages!


2 x Eve and Hotep, Shap Fell, Cumbria, U.K. Sept 1923

Book cover: Eve and Hotep, Dyneley House Private Hotel, Skipton, U.K. 1923

Copyright 2020 Amy Swift 

11 thoughts on “Off the beaten track: 1920s Eve leads the way with a donkey by her side

  1. After enjoying Eve’s Journey with Hotep, seek out the lyrical and poignant tale of “Suzanne and Gertrude”, written by Jeb Loy Nichols and published by Pushcart Press. It’s a thoughtful companion to Gill Brackenbury’s quintessential book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great adventure for both woman & beast !!! Perhaps after I retire from teaching school, my adorable, well-trained donkeys would be interested in taking a long hike with me, too. Even if I don’t win a hard copy of the book, I’m sure to purchase one. It’d also make a t-riffic Christmas gift to a few of my long-ears loving friends. Thank you for adding yet another delightful reading addition.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My name is Zakih and I am Hotep’s great-great-grand Donkey. Years ago, as part of our herd’s oral history, I heard the story of Hotep’s amazing travels in the countryside. How wonderous it must have been in that by-gone era to journey through verdant hills and dales, twisting glens and stark moors – so unlike our herd’s fate today, penned up as we are in pastures. We heard how much Hotep’s companion – a woman person named Miss Doris – had to learn as the journey unfolded. She didn’t realize that we Donkeys know exactly how to stay safe, to avoid bad bridges, to find clean water and where to eat. Many times she would choose the wrong path and Hotep would resist and dig in his hooves, but, at the beginning of the journey, the woman person didn’t understand – she thought Hotep was just being stubborn. Later, after she learned a bit of Donkey body-language, she began to relax and developed a loving nearness with Hotep. When she became lonely, Hotep would nuzzle her and sing to her his favorite songs – Yee, Yee, Yaw, and Eh, Hee Haw. How lucky the woman person was to have a Donkey by her side. Thanks for saving her version of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am currently reading Eve’s Journey. What a charming and fascinating book. The tale of Eve’s walk with Hotep the donkey is by turns exciting, dramatic, and funny, and I’ve learned much about the history and social mores of 1920s Yorkshire. Gill Brakenbury’s introductory chapters describing her grandmother’s life set the stage beautifully for the diary entries that follow. Eve/Doris was quite an amazing woman, aside from her love of donkeys and her adventurous trek through northern England into Scotland. Her story is one that deserves to be told, so my hat’s off to Gill for publishing this delightful memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

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