Our walking holidays along the West Mendip Way turned out to provide a wonderful range of walks in good company – a memorable few days for all the right reasons, despite us having chosen a wet week!
Our leader takes cover as the rain descends
On night one we met leader Chris and his wife Jeannie in our hotel at Webbington, near Loxton, to hear about the week ahead. The walks were described as ‘challenging’, with a lot of ascent and descent (2000ft+); we set off the next morning ready to test our mettle.
Walking through the Wells Cathedral grounds and streets decked out with bunting and Union Jacks for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, passing through Wookey Hole, climbing up to Ebbor Wood and stopping for ‘elevenses’ with spectacular views over Ebbor Gorge, strolling through meadows full of wildflowers, and making a steep descent to Draycott – this was quite a strenuous day’s walking, but well within all of our capabilities, and punctuated with interesting places and superb views.
More challenges awaited the next day, with a climb above Cheddar Gorge, with its sheer rock faces straight down to the winding road and goats on the top of the gorge. Just past Black Rock, the rain started, and stayed with us, on and off, the rest of the day – each period being just long enough to put on or take off waterproofs, before the weather changed again!
This was followed after lunch by a walk to Wavering Down, which gave us splendid views all the way to Minehead, Hinckley Point power station and the beginning of Exmoor – plus where the next rain showers were coming from!
Travelling westward along the ridge of Wavering Down, our last challenge that day was a short scramble up to Crook Peak, for those that still had the energy to, before descending to Webbington and our hotel.
Our final day of walking was the gentlest, with highlights including: the village church in Loxton, decorated for the Jubilee (inside, amongst other displays, were decorated busts of all the English Queens, from Mary Tudor to our present Queen), trekking to Bleadon via Bleadon Hill (an appropriate word to vocalise as one climbs!), and stopping at Gracelands – a copy of that one in Memphis, built by a husband for his Elvis-loving wife.
Mary Tudor in Loxton church
Gracelands(in the UK)
The organised walks having been completed, we then had the opportunity to visit local attractions on our last day. Some went to Wookey Hole, some to Wells, and some to Tynesfield House – a property taken over by The National Trust in 2002. Our initial intention to generate our own walk was forgotten, after seeing the weather!
So, overall, the walking was excellent – and well led by Chris, ably supported by Jeannie. The weather, though not often sunny, didn’t affect our enjoyment. I expected the Mendips to be somewhat of a stroll, but there were enough ascents and descents to give us sufficient challenges to leave us with a sense of achievement – and muddy boots!
The end of the West Mendip Way