A CLARKS GORE-TEX MICROADVENTURE
 

The following article appeared on the Clarks Shoes blog (pop over there to check it out) and uses a selection of my photographs.

Take a bunch of town and city dwellers who grew up as countryside children. Add in a weekend escape to a remote Exmoor bunkhouse plus a few pairs of GORE-TEX® and warmlined boots. Oh, and Taz the dog.

You’ve got a Clarks GORE-TEX® Microadventure.

Who: Freelance Graphic Designers Rich Webster and Roger Whipp, freelance Illustrator Kate Daubney, and Stu Grimshaw, photographer. Friends Rich and Roger met at college, while Ilfracombe-based Kate and Roger have a sweet spot for this particular Exmoor bolthole having visited on school trips. Kate and Roger’s dog Taz comes too.

 As Rich explains, the team spend days sitting in front of blank sheets of paper and screens ‘bringing ideas to life through design’. So the weekend is all about, “Getting back out and about, searching for new experiences and micro-adventures – in the city or countryside, on my bike, running – anything, as long as I’m always moving”.

For Rich, the weekend is all about, “Getting back out and about, searching for new experiences and micro-adventures – in the city or countryside, on my bike, running – anything, as long as I’m always moving”.

Where: Opened in 1968 the Exmoor Centre was established under the will of Dora Cartwright-Williams who wished to see a centre for young people in the Hoar Oak Valley in memory of her husband and their happy times spent in the area.

A year-round base, the camp’s sheltered location means frosts can last for weeks on end with temperatures barely getting above freezing.

Set on the edge of farmland and open common moorland, access is by foot only. Parking is half a mile away. A hand rope helps take you over the stepping stones that cross the river. In Padley Alp GTX and Ripway Hill GTX feet stay dry, EVA keeps you light of foot and the chunky rubber sole gives grip.

What: First things first. On arrival, the UV water filter needs switching on and firewood must be foraged. Then, maps come out and the afternoon’s walk is planned.

The river runs high following lots of rain. Exmoor’s high moorland streams are generally slow flowing above the treeline and though in places they become deep enough for the brave to swim, they are rarely warm, even at the height of summer. Otters breed on the river downstream of the centre and Red Deer, Exmoor survivors since pre-historic times, can be seen most days. 

Evening calls for a supper of bangers and mash. Then, fire stoked, a bit of chat, reading and star-gazing take the edge off a blustery night before everyone retires to their bunks.

Morning sees less bluster – and an obligatory fry-up. A quick clean of the centre leaves it ready for the next visitors. Kate squeezes in time to create some illustrations. Then, backpacks on, the team ships out. Over the river, up tracks and across the common, back to Bristol, buses, Ilfracombe’s harbour, and away from the moor.

“I love my day job as a freelance illustrator – primarily for the children’s market – but the opportunity to get away from the desk and do some drawing out on location is bliss, especially somewhere as naturally beautiful as Exmoor.”