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Cheddar Weekend - March 2013

There were 24 of us scattered over the village of Cheddar, 19 in the youth hostel and 5 in various hotels/guest houses. All of us were at the hostel for evening meals, which was great for us all to be together. The hostel was nicely situated, with Footprints having sole residency in the annex apart from on Friday night when a Danish family arrived to find their 6 bed family room in the main hostel building was not available. Footprints came to the rescue, juggling their room occupancy, and the Danes joined Footprints in the annex. The meals were good and as Footprints were the only people in the dining room it was almost like a Footprints-only break with a few other hostel dwellers appearing on the fringes occasionally.

Friday's walk started from the hostel, up a steep path to get onto the Mendip Hills; although A and B groups followed the same route for some time, it was on this steep path that A group broke away and when B party got to the top, the others were lost to view. We were soon on moorland, sharing the track with horse riders. At Beacon Batch viewpoint, at 325m, we had fantastic views in all directions. We then encountered the first of many way signs for the Mendip Butcombe Brewery Trail (you don't see many signs like this in the middle of nowhere at 325m). Further along the pub trail, the B group assisted a farmer to get his vehicle out of a part frozen field - and without getting splattered in mud. Meanwhile, the A group found shelter from the bitter easterly wind in the porch to St Andrew's Church in Blagdon for lunch. There was a complete contrast of scenery in the lovely Velvet Bottom Nature Reserve, and the old lead mine workings in the Black Rock Reserve. It was then time for the steep climb up to the Cliff Top Cheddar Gorge Walk with its fantastic views of the gorge and surrounding area. A and B groups met here and completed the Gorge Walk together before climbing down Jacobs Ladder for tea in Cheddar.

Saturday saw us squeezing into the 126 bus to Wells, where we had a quick 10 minutes by the cathedral before leaving the city for Wookey Hole with its famous cave and then onto Ebor Gorge Nature Reserve. Unbeknown to each other, A group walked the top of the Gorge while B party went through the Gorge valley to the Gorge and climbed up to the top (scree slope activity). Both groups enjoyed a drinks stop at the Queen Victoria Inn at Priddy, so we can say we did at least one pub on the Brewery Trail. The A Group walked north to Cheddar while the B group went west to Draycott to get the bus to Cheddar. That evening, Ian treated us to a photo show of past events.

Clocks went forward, an event which escaped the notice of Chris's landlady, so on Sunday morning Chris was anxiously playing an alarm call outside his landlady's bedroom door, which fortunately was heard and breakfast quickly prepared. The group travelled to Wells again, by car this time. A Group then took the bus to Glastonbury and did a linear walk via Glastonbury Tor through the Somerset Levels back to Wells. B party left Wells on the Monarch Way to walk in the beautiful countryside around Wells, on Worminster Down, walking through the lovely villages of Croscombe and Dinder back to Wells with a fantastic view of the Cathedral before them. In the evening, as one of the entertainments, Chris Rawlings demonstrated the art of Levitation assisted by his 4 helpers: using just 2 fingers each, Aline, Margaret, Heather and Hilary lifted Greg off his chair into the air! Everyone was amazed, especially Greg!

On Monday, 4 intrepid members (Greg, Roger, Heather and Bob) went 'Adventure Caving' in Cheddar Gorge. They emerged covered in mud after crawling through tight passages (including April Fool's Squeeze). The remainder of the group walked from the hostel onto the Mendip Hills via Fry's Hill.

Thanks go to Aline who did a wonderful job of organising the weekend; and thanks also to Aline, Greg, Ian, Colin, Peter, Mike & Martyn for leading the walks.