Outdoor Adventures in Somerset
Bumping down the stony track, legs straight, fingers gently gripping the breaks and eyes fixed firmly on the path, I was doing my best not to Kamikaze down the hill. To my right was the calm Bristol Channel, flecked in the distance with sailing boats and container ships. To my left the beautiful expanse of Exmoor National Park covered with bright yellow gorse. With me, 7 new friends also desperately trying to look like they knew what to do, as well as take photos and action Go-pro footage!
We were having great fun, mountain biking with Exmoor Adventures in North Somerset under the guise of a photography weekend.
Despite having been a keen cyclist on and off all my life, it occurred to me that I had never actually been mountain biking before. How had that happened? It really was great fun.
With guidance from the organisers of our Retreat weekend, the outdoor company Exmoor Adventures had been asked to provide a down hill route suitable for unfit novice riders. It turned out to be a bit like asking a Michelin starred chef to run a cookery class for beginners, who then teaches everyone how to make profiteroles.
If fairness though you can’t just go down hill when mountain biking, that’s not really the idea.
We had already been driven high up out of the well known tourist town of Minehead onto an area of the moor that is also part of the South West Coast path, where we meet our guide Ben, for the session.
A safety brief and instructions complete, helmets on and the Go Pros attached we set off – up hill! It turned out to be the worst hill first and nearly reduced the group by half in the starting 10 minutes! After that though it was a mixture of up a bit and down a bit along brilliant tracks up to Selworthy Beacon.
The views were stunning and we stopped a lot to take photos, well that was partly the point. The session lasted about 2 1/2 hours and was great fun. I left wondering why I had never tried mountain biking before.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Kayaking
The next morning, feeling slightly worse for wear after a late night, another group of us bundled into the minibus again and headed for Porlock Weir. Also run by Exmoor Adventures, this was a session of kayaking and SUP (stand up paddle boarding). Trussed up in thick wetsuits (which were provided) and a pair of old trainers, we grabbed a paddle and bimbled off to the beach. There were comments from a few morning dog walkers about how good we were being so active on a Sunday morning. In fairness I think we surprised ourselves being so keen.
I was first up with the paddle boarding group and we launched off the pebble beach into the Bristol Channel. At this stage we were all on our knees as we paddled for the relative calm and safety of the little harbour. There were plenty of wobbles as we all tried getting to our feet (the pros make it look so easy!).
Then out of the harbour and off into the waves. They weren’t exactly crashing, more of a gentle swell, but it was enough to unbalance most of us back onto our knees again!
Stand up paddle boarding is great fun and I’m pleased to say I did not fall in. I was quite determined not to after a previous experience in Seaton!
After about an hour we swapped with the kayaking group. This is physically harder work but you can go further and we headed out along the coast a little way.
Given more time the groups are taken out round the headland to explore. We played a fun and surprisingly competitive team game of throw a ball at the opposition, one member of which was the goal!
Exhilarated and feeling chuffed that we had taken part in such a fun activity on a Sunday morning, we headed back to base at Croydon Hall for lunch and the final sessions.
If you are looking for outdoor activities that are perfect for groups such as hen weekends or work team building that I can really recommend Exmoor Adventure. They offer a full range of mountain biking sessions for all levels, SUP and kayaking. The setting around Minehead. Porlock Weir and Exmoor National Park is just stunning it’s only about 40 minutes from Taunton so accessible for a day trip from many parts of the South West.
What was The Retreat?
My weekend away had been time out with a group of bloggers based at Croydon Hall in Somerset.
I had gone not really knowing anyone and returned with new friends, learnt writing and video tips and and a better idea of how to take my camera off automatic!
Thank you Everyone
Thank you to Sally and Flea Retreats team and Tots 100 for all their organisation for what was a brilliant weekend. It was wonderful to spend some time away, all of us focusing on what our blogs are about and why we started doing them in the first place. I learnt to try and be more confident on camera and to start videoing more, as well as making better use of my camera. Just as important it was great to relax, make new friends and actually feel part of a group, dare I say tribe, of like minded people.
I enjoyed lovely yoga sessions with the infectiously cheeky Rachel who runs classes near Minehead in Somerset and photography sessions and advice from Tom Arber (thank you for the group mountain biking photo above)
Other contributors for sessions I attended over the weekend were Confidence on Camera run by Darren and Sean from Aspire Presenting Also Creative Writing by Kirstie who is a very successful writer and travel blogger at The Family Adventure Project, who has inspired me to try something a bit different when I write. Other sessions were held on food, fashion and portrait photography as well as filming – really I needed another day to do everything!
There were lots of lovely people and amazingly successful bloggers. Everyone was very supportive and not at all competitive with their blogs. There are too many to mention here but thank you everyone who inspired, helped or shared their wine and knowledge with me.