Hello there again, we hope you have been doing well! We just went on our second residential for the year the past Reading Week and have loads to update you on, so here is a quick blog post with some pictures to share!
As the dates of the Exmoor Residential Trip approached, the weather forecast worsened and weather warnings were issued. Storm Dennis was fast approaching, and we all knew that this was going to be a challenging residential. In response to the storm, the walk leaders planned shorter routes in valleys to avoid the wind, with pubs on route to escape to if the weather conditions got too bad. The decision was also taken that the group should stay unified to increase safety, instead of splitting into two groups as we usually do.
After taking a 1.5 hour train ride from London to Taunton and a chartered bus that took us to Exford Hostel, we unpacked the heaps of Tesco food and got ready to face the storm. On Saturday (15/2/2020), we followed the River Exe downstream from the hostel. The pace was slow as the ground was wet and boggy, some small streams had flooded but all were still walkable. We attempted to return along higher ground as the trees appeared still on the hill. It was a bit drier and luckily most parts were sheltered from the strong winds. Arriving back, the assigned cookers whipped up the ingredients to make a wrap dinner and we then partook in evening icebreakers to get to know everyone before heading to the pub (which was literally less than a minute walk from our hostel)!
The next day, we headed to the next valley over from the Hostel. As we crossed the moor, the wind was low but the ground was boggy and it rained real hard. By the time we reached the river we were all quite cold, so we decided to go to the local pub to warm up with some hot chocolate and coffee. The river path we originally wanted to take warned of flooding, so we followed a higher elevation road towards the next pub (as you can tell by now we really love pubs). As we reached the opposite side of the river from the next pub, to our despair, we found the road completely under the river and the bridge flooded. We headed upstream to the next bridge, but as it came into sight we were confronted with an extremely flooded stream. We were unable to cross over to get to the pub and had to return the way we came. In the evening, we cooked some yummy Thai Green Curry with rice to pair with.
We were up early on the third day to catch the bus to the coast, which is perhaps the main attraction of Exmoor National Park. After the past two days of gloom, the sun finally shone as we walked along the cliffs and a gentle wind blew from behind. The walk involved some fast-flowing streams that we had to jump over, which was adrenaline-pumping! At the very end of the hike, a river had burst its bank and formed a large puddle requiring us to jump and climb onto the footbridge. When we got back to the Hostel, we rounded off the evening with some Cheesy Chicken Alfredo Pasta and had a sharing session where we reflected on the best parts of the trip as well as areas for future improvement.
The final morning we walked up to Dunkery Point, the highest hilltop in the area being 520m tall. As with typical English weather, the weather started warm and sunny then suddenly turned into heavy wind, rain, and hail which we struggled through to make it back. Overall it was a fun adventure filled with positivity, and all members enjoyed the trip (despite the weather conditions) with the average rating being 8.7/10.
On another note, the election is coming up between the 16th and 20th of March to elect the new committee members for next academic year. If you want to run, make sure to nominate yourself by 12pm 4th of March at https://studentsunionucl.org/el…/leadership-race-spring-2020 !
For information on the roles, you can find the club constitution at http://studentsunionucl.org/sites/uclu.org/files/hiking_29.06.2019.docx, contact Elly (President) or talk to the member of the committee that currently holds the role.
We have loads of exciting hikes and socials coming up especially next month, so we hope to see you then!