Wednesday, 27 February 2013

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Caroline Paul

BORN in Dorchester in 1963, Caroline Paul was just 18 months old when her family moved to a rundown 300-year-old property, near Cerne Abbas. Nearly 50 years later, Caroline still lives there with her parents and teenage son, running it as Giants Head Caravan & Camping Park – a “rural touring park for healthy walking types.” Leaving behind a career as an independent financial advisor, Caroline began running Treasure Trails Dorset five years ago.

WHAT are treasure trails?
There are more than 55 walking, driving, cycling and bus treasure trails across Dorset. Each trail has clues that you need to find and solve to lead you around a route. They are designed to show you the best historic and picturesque sights of a location, whilst entertaining the whole family at once. The trails involve either solving a murder mystery, following a treasure hunt or carrying out a 'James Bond' style spy mission. Each answer eliminates a suspect or a location until you are left with just one - the whodunnit, the location of the hidden treasure or the code to deactivate the device. They are award-winning activities that get the whole family out and about exploring.

HOW did you get involved with them?
I first met Steve Ridd, who started Treasure Trails in Cornwall, at an air show in 2004. Steve stood out because of his lively, fun attitude. I bought a couple of trails and both were fantastic. Steve emailed me a few months later to say he was looking for someone to write trails in Dorset and would I be interested.  As my parents were getting a bit older I thought it would be a great thing for me to do, to reduce my hours as a financial adviser and work from home writing the trails while helping them with the holiday park.

HAVE you always enjoyed walks and the countryside?
I have always been a country girl and have always loved the countryside. My favourite trails are those that explore some of the lesser-known villages. I love to find out all I can about the history, local stories and any gossip from the locals.

HOW do people respond to the walks?
I do get some great feedback from Trailers. Here are a few: “Absolutely fantastic! This is the third one I have done with the kids, fabulous!” (Swanage 4 Kids Trail). “Did it with friends on a brief holiday in Weymouth and they loved it - saw things we would normally miss!” (Weymouth Town). “A lovely way of exploring different places and noticing things overlooked before.” (Bridport Town)

HAS anyone got horribly lost following your clues?
Not that I am aware of – or maybe they are still lost! After I have written the trails I always, without exception have someone else to check them. I give them the trail and I follow behind with a clipboard taking notes just in case I have written “go left” and it should be “go right”.

HOW do you find new routes or themes?
I have so many trails that I want to write. Whenever I am out I very often divert off the main road down narrow roads looking for new places to explore, you wouldn’t believe what can be hidden away. Dorset is just wonderful for all those hidden secrets. Who has lived here, who was born here and who is buried here, but I am not going to tell you any secrets, you will have to check out my trails! I also get asked by people to write new trails. Sometimes it is possible but in some cases although they live in a lovely part of Dorset there is just not quite enough to write a full trail, so I make a note and keep these for future driving trails.

WHAT is your favourite journey in the world?
My father had always wanted to go across the Rockies in Canada before he got too old (he’s 81 now) so about five years ago I arranged for him, his older(!) brother, my son and myself to go. We went over Christmas and it was fantastic. My mother decided to stay home as she could see how much work it would be looking after two pensioners who have spent nearly 80 years squabbling (like brothers do) and a teenager. I still think this was my favourite journey.

WHO living or dead would you most like to go on a walk with?
I suppose I could be really corny and say Pierce Brosnan because he could rescue me with one of his James Bond manoeuvres but that would be fibbing. It’s Pierce Brosnan because he is just gorgeous to all us middle-aged women.

WHAT would be your ideal destination after a long walk?
Back home to one of my mum’s roastie dinners – yum.

DO you Sat Nav?
Only when I have to, I am a country girl and a lot of this techy stuff goes way over my head, I have only just learnt how to turn on my son’s iPhone and that is as far as I have got with it.

WHAT is your earliest memory?
I can remember sitting in a pram or pushchair passing lots of metal railings. Apparently before I moved from Dorchester my mother used to walk with me by the Dorchester Hospital where there were lots of metal railings.

WHEN is the last time you had to say sorry?
Sorry, me? You’ve got to have done something wrong to say sorry! Only joking, probably to my son, I seem to say sorry to him every day but I really don’t know why, maybe to try and keep the peace when he is having one of his teenage tantrums.

Trails can be download from or available in booklet format from Tourist Information Centres and various retail outlets or direct from Treasure Trails Dorset.


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