A MID Wales woman who survived ovarian cancer and raised more than £11,000 for two cancer charities by walking more than 3,700 miles around Wales, will talk about her journey as she launches her new book tonight (Friday, February 16).

Ursula Martin’s ‘One Woman Walks Wales’ will be launched at the Great Oak Bookshop at Llanidloes, at 7pm.

Ursula was born in Swansea, brought up in England, and returned to Wales as an adult, including living at Machynlleth. She has worked in a variety of occupations – baker, festival crew, care worker, photographer, volunteer farm worker, TEFL teacher – while spending most of the last 10 years travelling.

Returning home from European travels, a routine visit to the doctor left her diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 31.

After being treated, and determined not to sink into self-pity, she decided to walk between her home in Mid Wales to a follow-up hospital appointments in Bristol.

That spurred Ursula to go to the journey that took her across, around, up, over and through all of Wales, to raise not only money but awareness for the need for early detection of ovarian cancer.

What was planned as a 3,300 mile walk over seven months turned into 3,718 miles over 18 months along some of the great pathways of Wales.

She said: “I was a plump, unpractised woman in a raincoat and woollen hat.” With a tarpaulin and a bivvy bag, she chose to sleep wild much of the time.

But along the way she pays tribute to those who also greeted her and provided meals and accommodation, including a big-hearted nurse called Claire who she met at Welshpool, via the Couchsurfing website.

She walked on through often gruelling harsh winter weather, driven by her intense love for nature; the following she attracted on her popular blog she wrote along the way; and the physical connection she felt with the landscape.

Ursula’s walk and her story is inspirational, though she refuses to be seen as a ‘cancer heroine’ and her unique voice and charming, determined character just shines through.

“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.

Ursula is now cancer-free and is planning her next big adventure, a boat trip across Europe.

Praise for the book has include broadcaster Claire Balding who described it as: “A rare combination of an epic tale of an extraordinary adventure and a delicately woven study of the kindness of random strangers. Hugely enjoyable.”

Publication coincides with Ovarian Cancer month in March, with £1 from every print copy sold being donated to Target Ovarian Cancer - find out more at: www.targetovariancancer.org.uk, which also features a handy symptom checker guide.

Only 36 per cent of all UK women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will still be alive five years later, but survival can be over 90 per cent for those diagnosed early.