The first difficulty we faced when planning this trip was finding the time period to do this, as one member of our group was away for all of summer. However, we found that the end of August and start of September worked for us all, which meant that the temperature would not be too high but also put us in danger of walking through rain. This meant that we bought as much rain-proof clothing as possible, but luckily for us it wasn’t needed at all. There was some difficulty finding a good place to complete this challenge, but we eventually settled on walking the entire coastline of the Exmoor National Park as it is not only a beautiful place, but also had high peaks and lots of hills, adding to the challenge of this trip.
We got the train from London Paddington to Taunton at 9am, which was a quick train ride and gave us time to prepare for the next 3 days. Once in Taunton, we went to a supermarket to buy lunch then got on the bus to Minehead. We got to Minehead at about 1.30pm and began our walk soon after this. The first few miles were uphill through the forest, which gave us a break from the sun and then opened out into moorland. Our heavy rucksacks full of camping equipment were the only big obstacle throughout this entire trip, as we overestimated our abilities when planning and assumed it would be fairly easy to carry all of our equipment and food – we were very wrong. We took regular short breaks to keep our energy up and made our way cross the moorland at a good pace, reaching our campsite in Porlock at about 4.30pm that afternoon. We pitched up, ate dinner cooked on a camping stove and then went to bed early, so we could get up early in the morning. We got up early and packed up quickly on the second day, leaving the campsite at around 9am. The first part of the walk took us across the seafront but after stopping off in a pub to refill our bottles, the path then went more inland, sticking to the coastline but walking through forest. This part of the walk was very difficult as it was very steep, but soon levelled out, allowing us to enjoy our environment more. We took regular breaks to stay hydrated and rested. We reached our campsite in Lynton at around 5.30pm and pitched up. We ate Thai food from a pub down the lane from the campsite this night, which allowed us to stay energised and raised spirits for the longer walk the next day. We got up early on this day and had breakfast in the onsite café in our campsite, which helped keep us energised. This walked started as woody, but opened out into moorland by about midday. This walk was tiring, especially up to the Hangman’s point, as it was a hot day and we were not under much cover. However, it was a downhill walk from Hangman’s point and therefore, spirits were raised greatly from here. We pitched our tent at about 6pm that night in Combe Martin and went to sleep early to allow us to get up early to make our train the next day.
We got up early and packed up quickly, to make our bus at 11.20am. We reached Barnstaple station at 12.20 and bought lunch from a nearby supermarket. We got the train at 12.45, changing at Exeter St David’s, which got us home to London at 16.20pm.
Throughout all of the trip, we interacted with both locals and tourists, which is something we do not experience in London. This helped to challenge us, as it put ourselves out of our comfort zones but also made us much more confident individuals, as we found that people in the countryside are much friendlier than in London. This has also helped us gain independence and prepared us to travel without parental help in the future, which is a skill we all value highly and therefore, found this experience one of the most rewarding things that we have ever done. This experience has been one which will stick with us forever, improving not only our stamina and strength physically but also bringing us closer as friends and improving our communication and independence from our parents. We would like to thank the Mark Evison Foundation for this wonderful opportunity and would encourage anyone offered this opportunity to take it, as it will an experience that we all remember forever.