AN INTREPID York widow is set to saddle up and ride into the sunset on a Wild West trail.

Gwyneth Harwood, 67, from Clifton, a former city magistrate for 20 years, is preparing for her eighth such adventure after catching the cowboy bug when she turned 60.

She has already camped on a Navaho reservation, ridden by the OK Corral and come face-to-face with a grizzly bear.

Gwyneth, who meets up with the same group of American riding companions every year, will soon set off on another trail to Wyoming to retrace the steps of legendary gunfighter, Wild Bill Hickok.

"I hadn't ridden for 40 years when I went on my first trail," she said.

"I was quite frightened of falling off the horse because it would be like cracking a box of eggs. My 90-year-old mother went spare."

Gwyneth has so far ridden the San Raphael trail, where the musical Oklahoma was filmed, trotted round the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and strayed across the Canadian border for the Calgary Stampede.

Other adventures have seen her explore the Chiracahua mountains in south-east Arizona, where Cochise and Geronimo fought in the Apache Wars and ride into Tombstone, just like Wyatt Earp and "Doc" Holliday.

"I love the wide open spaces and the air is so clear and clean," she said.

"The people I ride with treat me like some sort of odd mascot.

"I don't think age should stop you doing something like this - you've got to grasp these opportunities when they arise.

"I feel like my life is just starting."

Gwyneth disturbed a grizzly bear while riding in the Canadian Rockies and has also seen lizards, coyotes and a tarantula.

"It's really important to drink plenty of water when you're riding - dehydration can be a killer," she said.

Gwyneth plans to continue riding the trails until she turns 70.

"It costs too much to insure myself after then," she added.

Updated: 09:08 Tuesday, May 20, 2003