A few years ago, Jenny Mills of Bideford in North Devon took on her first Mendip Challenge. The event is one of the biggest fundraisers for Weston Hospicecare, a local charity that provides free palliative care to people affected by life-limiting illnesses.
‘After 30 years of teaching, a career change seemed a good idea, and I wanted time to go running without fitting it around sports matches, French Exchanges and school trips,’ Jenny said. ‘The Mendip Challenge looked perfect: the fun of navigation, no pressure of racing, a day in beautiful scenery, and importantly, it was affordable.’
Although Jenny had no direct link with Weston Hospicecare and lives in North Devon, she said she was happy to take on the challenge and help raise funds for Weston Hospicecare – which she does in a unique way.
‘I don’t ask for sponsorship,’ Jenny said. ‘Instead, I raise money by doing gardening and odd jobs for the many elderly retired people in my area.’
Over the years, Jenny has completed 205 different challenges, which she said are each different in their own way, but she found that the Mendip Challenge was impressively organised.

‘On my first Mendip Challenge, I was amazed to see so many check points (11!), all giving us a cheery, friendly welcome, ready to top us up with much-needed drinks and snacks,’ Jenny said. ‘It’s a good starter event for the less experienced, as it’s not too far before finding the next point of reference and sustenance. Depending on how long I spend eating and chatting, I’m usually back at Uphill from Wells about mid-afternoon.’

Last year’s weather for the Mendip Challenge was beautiful and sunny, so participants could see the views, flowers, woodland paths and pretty villages along the way that, according to Jenny, are ‘every bit as scenic as the popular National Parks’. However, Jenny said that even when the weather’s not as nice, it’s still a great event.

‘If the weather’s a bit dodgy, yes, we’ll get wet, so take a jacket, hat and gloves,’ Jenny said. ‘Whether you fancy 10, 20, or 30 miles, just do it, and don’t forget a plastic wallet for the instructions — they’ll go to mush in the rain or sweaty hands!”

The popular Mendip Challenge, which is now in its 28th year, will take place on Sunday, 4th June, and participants can choose the length of their walk as the cover part — or all! — of the West Mendip Way for Wells to Uphill. Entry fees start at just £6 for children and £10 for adults. To find out more about the event or to register, please call 01934 423 960 or visit www.westonhospicecare.org.uk/mendip/.

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