Blackdown Hills practice walk

 Exmoor Challenge Practice Walk 2

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One freezing, soggy Saturday morning in March, 20 year 7 students and 10 adults from Court Fields Community School set out on a 12 mile hike through Wellington and the Blackdown Hills. Before we began this walk, we organised our groups. In my group, we had Chris, John, Max, Toby, Mr and Mrs Etherington, Nick (John’s dad) and of course, me. We started first, but after about 5 minutes, two more groups overtook us. However, we just stayed calm and carried on a steady pace. We knew if they kept on running then they would eventually be out of breath. About 15 minutes into the walk, the two groups in front of us went the wrong way. We knew the route, as John had already marked it out on the map, so we sneaked passed them. Just as we thought we were in the lead, Ms Bennett’s group realized their mistake and CHEATED! They cheekily took a short cut through some fields, and were now ahead of us again.  We passed underneath the motorway, through fields and farms, and on a many footpaths until we reached The Monument. However, we were only a few miles in, as there were many more miles to cover. I’m glad we had Nick with us though, as he was really encouraging. He did this thing where if anyone was falling behind the rest of the group, we would do a 10 second jog to catch up. He also would lure us back into the group with chocolate eclairs and galaxy caramel. These ‘tactics’ really worked.  A couple of hours into the hike, we had a problem. There was a giant field full of deep, sloppy bog. I got stuck 3 times, and my boots were full of water. At least my boot didn’t come off like somebody from another group.  Around about half way through the challenge, we caught up with the other group. They saw us approaching the hill, so ran up it to beat us there. Fortunately for us, they were in such a hurry that they went the wrong way. We knew that left was correct instead of right because WE READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!!!!! Confident that we were in the lead, we carried on following the CORRECT route. We passed more farms, fields, moors, bogs and tracks, until we got to a farm. The owner had 3 adorable dogs, but also some bad news. He said we were the second group to pass through! We were shocked, as no-one had passed us, so we stepped up our pace. It turns out it was Ms Bennett’s pesky group who had already passed through the farm, and the wrong turn was actually a sneaky short cut.  Eventually, we reached Wellington, and rushed towards The Youth Centre. Suddenly, it started to rain as we hurried down town. It was the final stretch to get to the finish, and we were so close. We thought we had won, but as we turned the corner, we saw Ms Bennett’s group sheltering by The Youth Centre. We were disappointed that we came second, but at least we followed the right route.  It was amazing fun though, even though we hardly ate. I gained a lot from this practice walk, we all did. Congratulations to Ms Bennett’s group for winning, even though in my eyes we all won. It was incredibly tiring, but great fun. This was a great walk, and I am really looking forward to the next 16 mile one.

BY: Aaron Filler T05