The Wessex Wanderer itself goes back to 2011 and this year chief organiser Keith Johnston had 80 participants to contend with, from as far afield as Norfolk, Yorkshire, Manchester and the North East although, as you would expect, most were from south of Watford Gap. They were divided into 16 groups of riders (five plus a run leader), with five groups doing ‘gentle and scenic’ routes and the other eleven doing ‘intermediate’ ones, each day. Not all the run leaders came from Wiltshire either; there was one each from Devon, Central Bristol and Hertfordshire. A reminder of the TRF Code of Conduct
was sent out with the final instructions and naturally followed by all the run leaders.
Apart from the inherent attractions of the event, for me, it was also a chance to reunite with all three of my fellow-riders on the 2015 JOGLE (John O'Groat's to Land's End) trail ride: Carla McKenzie, James Higgs and Andrew Byatt (all Wilts TRF members). I rode my freshly re-shod Honda Dominator 650 down from London to the Calne campsite where the event was based on the Saturday morning. Typically, I arrived too late to join one of the organised runs but I’ve been trail riding in Wiltshire for over thirty years so I was happy to do some of the local lanes on my own and in fact re-traced much of a route which I did with Carla McKenzie as part of her preparation for the JOGLE, but in the opposite direction, with some deviations to take in some trails I hadn't done before. I started near near the Civil War battle site of Roundway Down and ended up at a pub opposite the famous standing stones at Avebury discussing the merits of big KTMs versus the new Africa Twin 1000, with a couple of new owners. A group of Wessex Wanderers rode past coming from the Ridgeway as we were talking and I rode a few miles of the famous route myself before taking in another new-to-me trail south of the A4 before returning to base.