Olly Writes

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Tag Archives: Cheddar Gorge

Mendip Challenge 2016: 30 Mile Route

This is the first post in a series of three that will document the route of the Mercury Mendip Challenge.

In this post, I’ll share only the first ten-miles of the full-distance challenge. It’s worth noting that this section is commonly regarded as being the most challenging and is exclusive to the thirty-mile walk.

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Reverse Gorge Walk

Thursday 4th February 2016

On a rare day off from work yesterday, I found myself with a day that had become free and undedicated, as previous plans fell to pieces earlier in the week. Rather than reversing my decision and completing a full week in my job, I decided to hold on to this day of ‘me’ time and, naturally I was going to be looking for a walk today.

As with other recent walks, I wanted to stay quite local and didn’t feeling entirely comfortable with the outlook of the weather forecast. Having not been there for at least four months, I decided to head for Cheddar Gorge.

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Wet Mendip Way

Sunday 31st May 2015

It’s now been two-weeks since I completed my second Mendip Challenge, the full thirty-miles of the West Mendip Way and it’s safe to say that my legs have fully recovered.

My aim for this year was simply to complete the same distance, albeit with a little more confidence and less loss of direction along the way. I’d have been happy to have shaved fifteen-minutes from last year’s time. As our two coaches left Uphill for the centre of Wells and a 7.45am start, the grey skies were there to suggest that this wouldn’t be the best day for rushing about.

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Cheddar Gorge

Before I go on writing about food I probably prepared many weeks ago now, I’ve decided to sit here and write about a group walk I attended last Sunday. This current three-day weekend’s been filled with uncertainty, as dark clouds continue to loom overhead so, I’m not at all confident I’ll be able to get a walk in before returning to that horrible regular routine that deprives you of both freedom and morality…

This was in fact my third consecutive walk with the group and it’s been almost a year since I was last able to say that. A few familiar faces were met along the way. I’d been to Cheddar Gorge many times since 2012 already but I felt it might make a welcome change to be a bit sociable and rediscover it with a group of others; to see where and in which direction someone else may lead.

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Mist Upon the Mendips

It’s taken almost a fortnight for me to write about this one; my most recent walk. It seems that dark nights (particularly with the colder weather) are less inviting for me to sit here at my laptop for an extended period, away from the comfort of the blanket that adorns my sofa… I’ve even adapted to watching rubbish on TV! Between that and the (almost complete) bathroom repairs, I’ve delayed writing about this until now.

However, I can assure you this’ll be the last post to be ridden with my murky smart phone photos! My camera is back in action and so regular service quality shall soon resume.

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West Mendip Win!

Waking up earlier this morning, I felt as though I could relate to how Pinnochio must’ve felt before he became a real boy. After walking 30 miles across the Mendip Hills yesterday, I certainly feel as though I now need someone to bend my legs for me!

After 30 miles and 4 or 5 significant hills, I’m not going to stand up for anyone taking the photo, even my best friend! 😉

It was the one I’d been working up to with my other walks; the ultimate Mendip Challenge.

I’m very pleased to be able to say that, after a 7.55am start in Wells, I arrived at the finishing point in Uphill for 18.30. I was hoping to finish around 19.00; giving me an hour to spare before the checkpoint closed so, factoring in a single 20 minute lunch break (plus a handful of other brief stops), I’m very proud of and impressed with my time. I’ve suffered a bout of sunburn (it was cloudy when we set off…) and my shoulders ache from carrying probably 30kg of liquid (4lt – not necessary with so many checkpoints) but it feels good.

If you’ve ever considered tackling this one yourself, I can assure you that the first 10 miles (apparently equating to 13 miles by another walker’s GPS) are by far the worst. Then again, we had a coach driver who did anything but instil confidence with his abilities but that really is another story for a different day!! We all arrived and set off in one piece.

Looking at the bibs of other people (including the runners… Crazy people!!), I noticed numbers tallying close to 700. On average, Weston Hospicecar gains around £50,000 for this event each year. I’m quite certain they’ll be close to that average again this year.

My medal! 🙂

Leading up to this event, I’d felt concerned that I could spend too much time walking alone after one of my friend’s dropped down to the 20 mile stage and that, ultimately, I might ‘hit the wall’ at some point because of this. I’m quite accustomed now to walking reasonably long distances solo but this was always going to be a greater stretch. Instead, I feel fantastic for having conquered it (without taking any shortcuts) and I found a simple joy in walking along with both everyone and absolutely no-one at the same time…

I would catch up with different groups of people at various points. Some would overtake me as I stopped for lunch, only for me to leap-frog them again a bit further on (I was quite determined to get beyond Crook Peak ASAP). Each time, I could meet with different people and freely move on. It was enjoyable, yet somehow different to walking with the Ramblers, where there is always one leader; one head of authority and a constant need to attend to the tail-end of the queue. Plus, the checkpoints with free rehydration and sweets were very welcome!

I’d like to close by saying thank you to the Hospice charity for organising this event. I’ll almost certainly be doing it again next year. Also, a huge congratulations to every person who took part. Whether you did 5 miles or more than 5-times that. Very well done indeed!! 🙂

(Photos and hopefully some video will follow.)

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West Mendip Wander

I’m sat here, itching to tell you about my walk on the Quantocks last Friday but instead, I’ve decided to write about another adventure. Largely because it follows the chronological sequence of events; partly because I’m frustrated that Flickr (owned by Yahoo) have recently overhauled their website and so, getting the image URL from specific photos is currently more of a chore than ever!

The first hurdle, straight across the road from the car park!

Fewer photos is working better for me at the moment. But, having just completed two walks over the Easter weekend, you’ll be able to catch up soon, regardless of how long it takes. This walk across the Mendips took place about 10 days ago.

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Priddy Good

Continuing in chronological order, this was officially my first walk after moving house. I’m excluding any walks in the local village for the time being because I’m building up a collection of photos from where I live.

New boot; same old boots.

This walk came from one of the Walk West books. It begins in Priddy and then continues south-westerly towards Rodney Stoke via. Westbury-sub-Mendip. This was also my first adventure in my new car (a Ford Focus Estate), one week after the cam belt suddenly went on my van; causing all sorts of damage to the engine (tubes, etc. all badly bent). I was quoted a minimum price of £800 to begin the repair, for which I realised that I could buy another second-hand car! Plus, I’d already spent close to £1,000 on other repairs over the previous 12 months. It was time to change.

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