Blog Post by James Law (http://jamesdlaw.com/)
Each year, our group of mates congregate from various parts of the
country for a weekend in the wilds – a spot of canoeing, some walking
or cycling maybe – whatever it takes to blow away the cobwebs.
And like any internet researched trip, you never really know what
your going to end up with in when it comes to the location and
accommodation you end up picking. But when the instructions just to
get to the your temporary front door are, “slow right down, engage
low range gearing, don’t go over 5 miles an hour and watch out as you
cross the river at the bottom!” you know you’re in for a treat.
Our home for the weekend, the Exmoor Centre offered the perfect combo
of wild surroundings (slap bang in the middle of the moor no less),
warmth at the end of a rubbish summer (a log burner with combined
oven and a roof as opposed to canvas) and close proximity to our
weekend’s ents (walking, mtb’ing and great pubs).
When you combine all that with a very warm welcome from Will the
centre manager, a black sky full of stars (the centre is in part of Europe’s
first dark sky reserve) and a natural plunge pool in the adjoining
river to ease your aching bones (bring your wetsuits) and everything
was nigh on perfect.
We spent the first evening following the path by foot down to
Watersmeet and along to Rockford for a few swift ales in their local
before hiking back in the dark. The beer was great but the famous
Exmoor hills certainly set us soft city lads up for our dinner of
brisket chili and a few hands of poker by the warmth of the wood burner.
Day two saw us hiring mountain bikes from Dan at Exmoor Adventures
(http://www.exmooradventures.co.uk/) for a trip out onto Brendon
Common. The rapid descent from the top of the hill where the Exmoor
Centre lies down to Hillsford bridge was a great start to the
morning, and the climb back up to the moor itself opened up our lungs
for a great but testing day in the saddle. Lunch at The Staghunters
in Brendon, sat in the sun overlooking the river was a welcome break
before we took a deep breath and climbed back to the centre to try
out the plunge pool – an exhilarating finalé!
As we packed the next morning, all the talk was of when we’d be able
to make it back to Exmoor and the centre. Re-engaging low range in the
4×4 we crossed the river for the last time, fully satisfied and
without a cobweb in site…