On a bright and beautiful Sunday 2nd April, District 1200 club members, lead by their District Governor John Butler and his wife, turned out in force to ensure the Exmoor Rotary Club Senior Challenge Trophy did not fall back into the hands of District 1175 clubs.
Setting off from the excellent Oakford (Tiverton) village hall in sunshine walkers left between 8.30 and 11 to undertake either the 4.5 mile course or the longer 8.5 mile (slightly shorter this year than normal as there was a bit of a gradient to take on). This did not deter members as more did the longer walk this year than had done the past two years! Many said this was due to a combination of a wonderful day, a new location and the longer route being slightly shorter than that in previous challenges. Both teams had the same number doing the long walk. We had been lucky enough to get the support of a local land owner who allowed the last 2 miles to pass through his lovely private estate and along by a river.
The Challenge started back in the early 90’s with it being a 6 mile or 12 mile task. Each walker; club member or friend, gets 1 point for completing the short walk and 2 points for the longer. Any age counts – this year we had 124 people taking part aged between 7 years to 70+ accompanied by about a dozen dogs. Sorry though, no points for dogs!
Despite a bold effort from 7 year old Alexander Morrison completing the long course with his family, including his grandfather Peter Pugsley of the Tiverton Club; 1200 came out to win by 103 points to 74.
Feedback was that it was a good route and that it had been more accurately measured this year!! There were many taking part that have done every walk since it started. It’s not always plain sailing for everyone; one 1200 member had to withdraw, not through injury and only after he had completed over half of the long route. His footwear gave up, he even continued up the steepest section with a boot lace holding his right sole in place. However, once at the top the left sole came away from that boot. At this point is was time to give in. He faced much ridicule from his fellow club members. A steward’s enquiry was held but no points were deducted, the member of, I won’t name the club, had undertaken the hardest part of the course and his wife was not best pleased.!!
As usual egg, bacon, sausage rolls, tea and coffee were all available at registration and sandwiches cakes etc were ready upon return to the hall. After finishing a number of the walkers took advantage of the village pub (The Red Lion) a few hundred yards up the road for lunch and stronger liquid recovery. The route went past the pub just after the start but we don’t think anyone went straight in, stayed for 3 hours then came back to the finish! As it happens this pub had won the Exmoor Rotary inter pub quiz the previous Thursday. It is also one of the pubs in the area the club meets regularly at so great supporters of Rotary.
1200 were represented by Lyme Regis, Mendip, Ilmimster, Wrington Vale, Burnham on Sea, Calne, Brit Valley, Minehead and Quantocks, Crewkerne, Bridgewater, Wells, and Castlebridge.
1175 were represented by Broughton Caen, Tiverton, Exe Valley, Exeter Eastgate, Torquay, Bideford, Crediton and Dartmoor Vale.
Exmoor of course do not take part. The majority of their 36 members along with wives, husbands, partners and friends are engaged in the running of the event. We were very lucky to get the assistance of Dawn Harding, the wife of a Minehead member, whose husband was walking, but unfortunately a leg problem prevented Dawn from taking part. Dawn was sitting reading her book, noticed that the registration team were under a bit of pressure and volunteered to assist. This didn’t give her the opportunity to adjust the scores in 1200’s favour. !
When all donations are in, gift aid granted and the final accounts made up, the day should have raised around £1500 of which South West Children’s Hospice gets the higher grant, the remainder going to help Bampton and Dulverton local area good causes with needs.
The Rotary Club of Exmoor are very grateful to all those that took part and supported us. We look forward to seeing you all and hopefully others next year at the beginning of April.
Article and photograph submitted by Peter Gibson, Rotary Club of Exmoor