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Issue 292 – Mendip way challenge

Nigel Arbury successfully completed the 50 mile Mendip Way Challenge from Uphill to Frome starting at 2.30 pm on Saturday 9th January and finished at 12 midday on Sunday 10th January in spite of the exceptional conditions.

Nigel was greeted with cheers by members of the Frome Rugby Club as he completed this gruelling task. His achievement was particularly welcomed by members of the under 15 Frome Rugby team who will benefit from this sponsored walk.
Nigel had deliberately decided to do the challenge in January to make it more of a challenge. Little did he know that weather conditions would be the worst since 1963 just adding something to the difficulty of navigating over the Mendip hills and with a good deal of the route in the dark! Despite relishing the challenge posed by the foul weather, he did admit that it was the toughest challenge he had faced since his Arctic training sessions in Norway. “This certainly prepared me for this challenge especially when I hit four foot snow drifts across the route at Priddy. This first section, although around 5,000 feet of accent and decent, was better that I expected as the wind had blown a good deal of the snow from the route”.
“Ironically it was the East Mendip Way section that was more difficult because being low lying there were great problems with the depth of the snow. Here the main problem, apart from the extra time it was taking, were the road conditions, as many of the roads were impassable and the support vehicle was unable to reach many of the check points. It also started to snow and as a result some ingenious detours had to be found at the last minute which had the effect of lengthening the walk. Nigel said, “This challenge took as much effort and energy as some of the 100 mile ones that I have done in the past.”
Nigel had to do much of the route on his own as firstly Adrian Logan was forced to step down due to ill health and unfortunately only two days before the walk, Clive Gotley slipped and fell on the ice and broke his leg. With disbelief Clive said, “I have been involved with adverse sports, such as skiing, and motorcycling and never a scratch and here I am taking my phone out of my pocket to answer a call and my foot slips from under me!!”
“However Clive’s keen Rugby playing stepson, 17 year old Sam Ames-Reddin, who plays hooker for King Edwards School in Bath, was determined to take part and successfully completed the first 20 miles over the Mendip hills. Nigel said, “He did exceptionally well, without specialised training, over this arduous terrain in those conditions.”
Nigel carried an emergency pack with everything needed should anything go wrong. Supporting Nigel and Sam were Martin Bax, responsible for providing all the food and provisions and Robin Chadwick with the transport and driving. Martin said this was the ninth challenge that he had done with Nigel and it was by far the hardest. The length of time needed for the walk, coupled with the freezing cold, made it very difficult.
Providing the necessary hot meals at key intervals in the dark with the icy wind blowing out the flames of the stove proved particularly challenging. One time Nigel requested some hot creamed rice with golden syrup but it was so cold it could only be removed from the spoon with a sharp knife. On another occasion he gave Nigel a serial bar and watched in horror as one of Nigel’s front teeth was dislodged! Martin said, “I was fortunate in having the excellent support of Robin Chadwick and was very grateful to him, and would particularly commend his superb driving skills in such hazardous conditions on the roads.”
All proceeds raised will be divided between the under 15’s Rugby Tour and new second pitch training floodlights. If anyone would like more information on this good cause they can contact Adrian Kelly the junior vice chairman of the Frome Rugby Club and the under 15 team coach on 07971 260567 or send donations to the Frome Rugby Club at the Clubhouse, Gypsy Lane, Frome BA11 2NA Club Tel: 01373 462506.

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