Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Nine to Five: Mary Campbell


Mary Campbell, 54


Walking-tour leader


pounds 3,500 plus expenses


Grange, Cumbria

What do you do?

Most of the year Martin, my husband, and I run walking holidays from our house in the Lake District. He does the catering and cleaning while I take out parties of up to 12 on walks with Tiger, our lurcher crossbreed. We can put up only six guests here - the rest have to stay with neighbours - but we cater for everyone around our large dining-room table. Between December and March we head for the German-speaking parts of the Continent where we run cross-country skiing holidays for Waymark, a company specialising in walking and skiing holidays abroad.

So, are the hills alive with the sound of music?

People, more like. We get everyone from young people to the over-50s. Walking is a great leveller; it doesn't matter if you are an orthopaedic surgeon or a lavatory cleaner, we don't ask. Walkers are very friendly, they are not demanding in the way people on package holidays might be. They're there to walk, have a meal and not worry about the facilities.

What happens if they're not very fit?

Sometimes you get men with a beer gut who've had too many business lunches and who struggle a bit. Women are generally fitter while these men think they're going to have a heart attack. Men and schoolteachers tend to bite off more than they can chew. We encourage people to walk at a pace they can keep up.

Bet you're a veritable mountain goat, though...

Not until I've got myself sorted and done my own morning routine.

Which is?

Up at 6:30. After a cup of coffee I put on my in-line skates and take Tiger for a walk. We go a lot further with the skates and it's good training for the cross-country skiing. On return I'll have my breakfast and start preparing vegetables for dinner. Then we split: the dog and I do the walk and Martin the cooking. He serves guests a traditional English breakfast and makes up packed lunches. Parties come from Saturday to Saturday. The walk itself will start at 10am and will last until five, with two or three breaks depending on the weather. In that time we might cover 11 or 12 miles and climb 3,500 feet.

Ooh, the agony. What about the evening?

Martin will have prepared the main meal which we eat as one big party, then we might have a slide show of places we have visited and there are also slide shows in the town which people go to. Often people are soaked down to their bra and knickers so we throw their dirty clothes into our domestic washing machine - it is quicker than drying them.

And meanwhile the kids...

No, we made a conscious choice not to have children before we married. They wouldn't fit into our lifestyle when you're out of the country five months a year. One year I spent only 11 days at home.

What's home like?

It's a large Victorian place with a great view of Morecambe Bay. It has five bedrooms as well as a guest dining room and lounge. We filled it with artefacts, souvenirs and photographs from places we've visited all over the world. There are posters of mountain gorillas up the stairs.

How do you afford to maintain it on your earnings?

Well, we couldn't afford if we didn't already own the house. We don't have a mortgage. I used to lecture on economics and get lots of money and always used it up. But the life we lead means that we need hardly any money. Our lifestyle is different from that of the people who come to us. Some of them would think nothing of paying pounds 65 for a restaurant meal. If we had that same amount of money we'd spend it on a banquet for 50. We don't eat convenience foods and there are plenty of charity shops where we can buy clothes. If I want anything special I make it myself. If it looks like we're going to earn so much money it puts us into a tax bracket, we will shut down the operation and lead for other companies or just take off on our own.

Grangeways: 01539-535329