1st July 2017
Writing: George Corby (Year 11)
This weekend, 10 students and members of staff from Challoner’s travelled to Bath to complete the Cotswold Way Challenge. Morale was high as we travelled there, excited to do the walk, albeit knowing the difficulties that laid ahead of us.
As soon as we arrived we had to register, and were greeted with a welcome pack consisting of a timing chip and a bright green snood, which offered us amusement throughout the walk as we tried to wear each of the 40 different styles offered to us by our snood's included instruction manual. To the sheer embarrassment of the students, we then had to participate in a warm-up zumba session. Being the youngest people there by far, we stood awkwardly in the corner while the teachers got into groove.
The walk itself was divided into four lengths of roughly 10 to 15 kilometres. The first stretch offered us an immediate hill. With Mr Burn as a pacesetter, we powered through the footpaths and reached our first checkpoint rapidly. We were able to enjoy splendid views over the Cotswolds, admiring the seemingly endless green fields.
The next length was 50% longer and to our horror, offered another huge hill. Our pace started to slow but we still climbed rapidly up some extremely steep farm tracks. The sun began to come out which sadly signalled the end of our snoods if we didn’t want to overheat - although it did improve the atmosphere considerably as it further emphasised the beauty of our surrounding landscape.
Thankfully, we soon were blessed with lunch, which was (extremely kindly) provided by Miss West’s parents who served us a huge platter of sandwiches, sausage rolls, juices, fruits, cake and even quiche! Not wanting to delay our final time, we shortly had to get off but we all felt pleasantly refreshed and motivated now we were just beyond the halfway point.
For me the third stretch, even though it was one of the longest, felt like the shortest as there was a great sense of community. Local children sat in fields telling us 'Well done, you’re doing really well', which was lovely to hear. In particular, we were blessed with an offering of ice-cold (non-alcoholic) ginger beer. The moment of drinking this was probably my favourite of the entire walk, even though it only lasted a few seconds.
Unfortunately, by our third and final stop, many of us were absolutely shattered. We were 39km in, which was now further than many of us had ever walked. We were saved by an unlimited free pick and mix sweet selection provided by the walk provider. What more could you want in your life than unlimited pick and mix?
Buzzing from our sugar overload, we now embarked on our final stretch, which was undoubtedly the hardest. My legs felt like they being dissolved in dilute sulphuric acid and my left foot ached beyond anything I had ever experienced before. We trudged through the final few kilometres, supporting each other as we knew that we couldn’t give up at this stage.
Finally, the end was in sight. We could see and hear a man in a bright green suit that matched our snoods calling out 'Congratulations Team Challoner’s, just 50m to go!'. Slogging through the final few metres, I felt a great sense of pride and relief as we were cheered by the crowd. We received our medals and then had an evening meal to replenish our energy reserves.
The day was certainly a challenge - with a climb equivalent of Mount Snowdon and 50km of cross-country fields and paths, we were shattered. However, everyone finished in good spirits, glad to have taken part. It was also wonderful to learn how much we’d raised for our charity - at the time of writing £2844.62, 94% of our target! If you would like to donate to our chosen charity, YoungMinds who work to support teenage mental health, then please follow the link below:Team Challoners fundraising for YoungMinds
On behalf of all the walkers, I’d firstly like to give Miss West and her family a massive thank you for organising the walk and providing lunch for us. I’d also like to send another massive thank you to Mr Keen, who drove all the way to Bath with his family so we could be driven home in the school minibus.