The weekend of 22-24 June 2018, saw the inaugural Top of the Gorge festival take place on the spectacular Warren Farm site overlooking Cheddar Gorge. The event is an outdoor adventure festival full of activities, but taking the opportunity to showcase inspirational people, enjoy great entertainment as well as local food and drink.
The centre piece in the speakers tent were the Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champions including David Love, Mel Nicolls, Sian Lewis, David Mellor, Matthew Dieumegard-Thornton and Dwayne Fields with demonstrations of backwoods cooking from Sarah Whiting of Craft Invaders.
Later on, in the afternoon of the first day, was a Champion Q&A Session which also included yours truly, Kate Jamieson, Eli Greenacre, Steph Sanderson and Debs Butler.
Just to top off the great weekend, the weather was absolutely magnificent with blue skies, temperatures in the mid 20’s and a nice cooling breeze. The overall atmosphere was relaxed and at the same time strenuous. While myself and many of my fellow Champions spent the day chatting to anyone that wanted to talk. Across the other side of the park hundreds of people where taking part in organized MTB and trail running races.
My attendance at the festival was very much a last-minute thing. I had planned to be doing something else this weekend, but due to ongoing health issues I had to cancel my original arrangements. Fortunately the GetOutside team at Ordnance Survey had some weekend passes left, so Saturday morning saw me leaving home at 0600 for the 2:15 hour drive to the Mendips.
For me it was very much a home-coming trip because the Mendip Hills are where I ‘cut my teeth’ on outdoor activities as a young teenager. It is where I had my first experience and feel in love with caving and potholing, learnt to climb and to assail. In fact it all started at the Charterhouse Outdoor Centre just 1km away from the festival site!
For me this was always going to be a social event. Not having the pressure of planning and giving a talk meant that I could concentrate on helping out on the OS Stand and meeting up with old adventure friends and making new ones. I got asked many varied and intriguing questions during the day including one about ‘being normal’! – this will form the core of my next blog.
Unfortunately I was only there for the Saturday but made sure I filled in every minute of the experience. The only thing I regret is not planning to stay the whole weekend – maybe next year.