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News > General > Exmoor No.11 - 21.3.24 by Berwick Coates

Exmoor No.11 - 21.3.24 by Berwick Coates

Read Berwick Coates' rousing ode to the Exmoor (with a nod to Rudyard Kipling's IF)
10 May 2024
Written by Kate Fenton (How)
There are many ways of looking at the Exmoor - 
A test, a bind, a curse are just a few.
The more one thinks about it, one detects more.
Right now I have the time for only two.
If you're laid back, cool, and fit, and never hurry,
The Exmoor then becomes a non-event;
If you're human, ordinary, and you worry,
It could be the toughest hour you've ever spent.

Of the two, there's more to say about the latter;
If it's casual and easy, it's a bore.
For most of us, it is no laughing matter;-
We all end upwith something that is sore.
Still, let us bite the bullet, grit the teeth,
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Scorn the the fears and worries underneath,
Ignore the frost and wind and ice and mud.
Take your cue from poet Rudyard Kipling - 
His poem 'If' - 'If' - does it ring a bell?
Weed or athlete, Amazon or stripling -
Triumph or disaster - what the Hell?

If you face the prospect of the Exmoor,
And not be daunted by its fearsome length,
When it makes unique demands and then expects more
And challenges the limits of your strength;
If you don't fret about your footsteps dragging,
If you can banish doubt or nerves or care;
If you can sneer at super-athletes' bragging,
And see it all for what it is - hot air;

If you're prepared just once a year to do it,
Not fearing what surprises lie in wait;
If you rely on pride to get yout through it,
You might achieve your greatest feats to date.
When artic breezes chill you to the core,
When everything inside your shoes feels raw,
When the whole damn thing is quite the worst you've known;

If you can lift your head against the weather,
Not moan because God's got it in for you,
If you acceptyou're all in it together,
It makes it that much easier to do.
If you can meet with brambles, thorns, and ditches,
And treat them all as chances in a game;
If you see trips and falls and sprains and stitches
As pinpricks, and all pretty much the same;

When muscles ache you never knew you had,
And switch on sudden cramps that seize you tight;
When things you step in make you swearing mad,
And you sweat in places that are not polite;
If you take it step by step and pace by pace
If you never lose your temper and you nerve,
If you don't quail before the whole damn race,
It helps you keep a little in reserve.
Cos, near the end, the Cleave will rise to meet you,
Just when you're feeling used up, knackered, done.
If you refuse to let the bugger beat you,
You've cracked it - mmh! - and, in a sense, you've won.

Berwick Coates, 2024

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