It's the early May Bank Holiday - yippee!
To make the most of the long weekend, we're off to South Devon for world class coastal hiking with sightseeing and possibly fossil hunting en route, chilling and socialising by the seaside and a Devon Cream Tea or two.
The group size is limited to only 13 and I am hoping for close to 13 nationalities to come along!
Our base will be the 4* youth hostel in Beer, which is on the "Jurassic Coast" section of the South West Coast path and famed for it's lovely beaches and impressive cliffs. We have three of our own private LEC rooms reserved. Note that you will be sharing with up to 3 other group members and sleeping in bunks.
We'll travel by train (~2 hr 40 min) from Waterloo to Axminster and then hike / bus / taxi the 7 miles to Beer. There is a choice of two departure times depending on your work commitments on Friday, at 10:20 (which I will take) or 16:20 - please choose by answering the relevant question when you RSVP.
The emphasis of the weekend is moderately strenuous hiking, but we will also take time to visit attractions on our route and there will be plenty of opportunities for socialising, relaxing and eating.
For those traveling early on Fri, we will have the afternoon to enjoy a short hike and relax by the coast. We will join those arriving later for a pub dinner.
On Sat, we'll hike the 10 miles east via the seaside resort of Seaton and the heavily wooded Dowlands Landslip to Lyme Regis, famed for the fossils that are often washed out of the cliffs in the area. Before getting the bus back to Beer, there are many charming shops and refreshment opportunities and the Fossil Museum to explore.
On Sun, it's a 10 mile hike west to Sidmouth along high clifftop and bucolic rolling countryside paths, taking in the historic National Trust owned village of Branscombe and what will undoubtedly be the highlight of the weekend, the Donkey Sanctuary at Weston! Once again, we will return to Beer by bus at the end of the day.
On Mon, we'll leave the coast behind and take the vintage tram inland up the Axe Estuary to Colyton and then hike through rolling rural countryside the 7 miles back to the train station in Axminster, taking in a further two historic National Trust properties on the way. We will aim to get back to London at around 19:00 on Monday.
Breakfast will be provided by the hostel, which has a good reputation for their cooking and a range of snacks and fruit for trail food will also be provided. For dinner (and at other opportune times), I plan to take full advantage of the many excellent local pubs and cafes. The hostel does have self catering facilities if anyone would prefer to make their own dinners.
£150, which includes led hikes on each day, the return train fares, 3 nights B&B at the hostel, basic lunch provisions and bus / tram / fossil museum entrance & fares. Evening meals are not included. The other attractions on the agenda are free.
Payment instructions will be provided when you RSVP.
It is advised to travel light, as we will be hiking with our luggage on Monday. The hostel has a drying room, so wet clothing can be dried. Bedding is provided, but bring your own towel (or rent one from the hostel). The hikes are not very long (max 10 miles per day), but this is a very hilly area, the clifftop coastline that we will be hiking along for considerable lengths is fully exposed to the weather and some scrambling over rocks & through dense woodlands is involved, so appropriate hiking equipment / clothing and adequate levels of fitness are required. If you have walking poles, it is advised to bring them with you.
The hostel has the usual selection of board games, but please do bring along any games you can easily carry that are suitable for the train journeys and / or beach - I will bring Scrabble and a Frisbee.