Kibworth Ramblers undertook their annual charabanc outing to Ilfracombe to walk the gentle slopes of Devon and West Somerset. 37 walkers were on the trip and, surprisingly, considering the terrain, the same number returned!
The weather was on the whole extremely kind with quite a bit of sun although very cold. Thankfully there was no rain. The journey was broken by a 2 hour break for lunch at Bristol Docks on the way down. There was a stop at Gloucester Quays on the return for a cultural visit for most although some took the opportunity for retail therapy in the outlets. As in previous years, there were walks arranged to suit both the long walkers and those wanting something a little more gentle on each of the three days.
The longer walks involved parts of the South West Coastal Path, one from near Woolacombe to Ilfracombe, with multiple ups and downs where small river valleys were traversed. Careful planning ensured that a pub provided refreshment half way. A second Coastal Path walk was from Minehead to Porlock. Here the Gods did not smile on the wanderers as the long anticipated National Trust tea rooms en route were inexplicably closed. Both of these walks had extensive views of South Wales and also of Lundy Island. The final walk involved the coastal path from Lynmouth, up the 1 in 4 Countisbury Hill, from sea level to over 900 feet, before descending to the River Lyn valley. Unfortunately the return was not a meander down the valley to Lynmouth, but a further climb to over 800 feet before finally descending to the coach at Lynmouth. Yet again a midway pub provided refreshment and, for some, a warming soup. There was general agreement that this walk's description as 'strenuous' was probably an understatement.
In theory the short walkers should have had it much easier- unless the leader went off piste. The first walk into Ilfracombe was simple, which left those partaking all afternoon to explore Ilfracombe. The second walk, based on the medieval and pretty village of Dunster, unfortunately involved some woods where routes were difficult to follow, resulting in an unscheduled trip into the Somerset countryside before a scouting party discovered the correct route, whilst others were enjoying a packed lunch in a sheltered spot. The final short walk from Lynmouth to the Valley of the Rocks seemed to have suffered from the "didn't want to go round it, we should go over it" syndrome which involved a taxing climb.
Overall, a very enjoyable walking break, ably assisted by an excellent driver and a perfectly acceptable Family hotel with very friendly staff.