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Adventurous training in North Wales for intrepid cadets

In March 2018, a group of 12 cadets and accompanying staff from Kingham Hill School CCF departed for five days of Adventurous Training in Snowdonia, North Wales.

The aim of the camp was to practice cadets in their training to date and to complete a variety of adventurous activities to enhance their confidence in their own abilities, to aid personal development and to improve unit cohesion as a whole.

Contingent Commander Major Simon Terry shares his account of the action packed experience:

Day 1

"On the first morning after a leisurely breakfast at 0710 we set off for our first activity.  Indoor climbing at the Beacon Climbing Centre, Caernarfon.  After an initial brief by the instructors the cadets started off on the ‘Krazy Climb’, walls with strangely shaped holds and auto belay’s so that they could climb, and fall, at their own speed in safety.

"After a few modest competitions, one of which I myself lost to two rapid cadets, they were instructed on how to belay each other and set upon the top rope walls taking it in turns to belay their comrades up the wall and lowering them down after they reached the top.  After each cadet had tackled multiple walls and routes it was time for the warm down session of bouldering - climbing lower level walls without harnesses or ropes.  Here ensued another competition climbing the pegboard and testing their strength with the gymnastic rings.  After everyone had used up their energy it was time for lunch and then off to the next activity."

"After a relatively short journey we arrived at the West end of Llyn Ogwen and after depositing the minibus in a space that a Nissan Micra had just squeezed out of we kitted up for a simple navigation exercise, circumnavigating Llyn Idwel and admiring the views of the area.

"Of course as soon as we reached the lake we were headed to there was another important outdoor activity just ripe to show off the cadets skills and to spark off another competition.  Who could skim a stone the farthest across the lake, cheered on by a pack of small dogs. Around half way around the lake we approached the notorious Devils Kitchen.  Although there was a very steep ‘path’ heading up this face of rocks, cliffs and steep drops we stopped short to once again admire the view behind us.  Once satisfied we headed back down to start the journey round the other side of the lake to return to the start."

Day 2

"The following day was the ‘wet day’. A morning of canyoning and an afternoon of white water rafting, both run by the National White Water Centre, Canolfan Tryweryn.  The canyoning involved jumping, sliding, swimming, crawling, showboating and balancing the way down a gorge culminating in leaping into a 15-20m high zip line from the top of a waterfall, hard into the water below.

"After a welcome hot chocolate and lunch back at the centre it was time for everyone to get back into the cold Welsh water for some white water rafting.  This was to take place on the well known grade 3-4 Tryweryn white water course. There were two rafts of 6-7 people in each with raft guides at the helm.  The guides did their very best to get as much of the river as they could into both the raft and onto the cadets faces, steering the rafts down steep drops and deliberately piloting them into holes and pour overs for maximum drenching."

Day 3

"The next day saw us travelling for just under an hour to reach the Coed y Brenin Forest Park, Dolgellau containing over 120km of purpose built mountain bike trails on which the cadets would be put through their paces.

"First up was basic skills training where the cadets were taught how to manage the bikes down steep hills and small obstacles on a purpose built skills area.  After everyone was reasonably comfortable on the bikes the next stage was to try out the blue route, the 4.8km MinoTaur trail, involving stone steps, table tops, fast berms, half hidden sculptures of the MinoTaur and a long steep climb back up to the centre at the end.

"For the more adventurous cadets there was an option to tackle one of the many red routes so the group split in two between the instructors, half repeating the blue at a faster pace and half giving the 12.6km Cyflym Coch red trail a bash.  Being a red route there was a drastic difference in difficulty and technical skill required and this stumped a few on the first section which was a reasonably steep climb but over rock gardens as opposed to tracks.  However after this first hindrance they got into the swing of things and were soon mounting rocks at speed and were showing much improved technical understanding of how to tackle such obstacles.

"Once both groups had completed their routes it was time for a well deserved, high calorie lunch before the afternoon’s biking.  It was during lunch that there was a rare sighting, the two headed offspring of the MinoTaur."

"The afternoon saw most of the group repeating the blue trail but at a much higher speed with cadets swooping round the berms with much improved confidence and zeal.  In the meantime a duo attacked another red route, the 8.7km Temtiwr trail.  A shorter but much more technical route compared to both the mornings routes.  After a steep climb of approx. 2 miles you know you are in for a decent downhill section afterwards and the intrepid cadet was not disappointed showing great skill and competence throughout.

"The minibus was a nice quiet place to be on the drive back to Capel Curig (their base for the week) with hardly a sound from the rear aside from gentle snoring.  That night was film night and the film, chosen by our new Lance Corporal, was the Siege of Jadotville which was enjoyed and admired by all."

Day 4

"The final day of activity was the Quality Mountain Day heading from approx. 3km East of Llyn Ogwen up to Carnedd Llewelyn, across to Carnedd Dafydd and down to the West end of Llyn Ogwen.  This taste of the Welsh mountains involved approx. 11.5 km of walking and approx. 1060m of steep ascent.  The weather was quite moody that day with several rain showers, strong winds and low cloud coverage.  Fortunately the new CCF Gore-Tex did the job and there were no complaints of being cold or wet.

"After reaching the first peak at Pen yr Helgi Du in dense cloud cover it was time to make the first steep descent along a ridge line.

"This day was not a day for beautiful vistas over the mountains of Snowdonia however after the first descent and turning around there was a reasonable view over the natural Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir, though most of our previous route over the top of Pen yr Helgi Du was hidden by cloud.

"The rest of the walk passed without incident and all returned to Capel Curig very ready for the evening meal."

"Being the last evening of the trip it was time to wind down in comfort, at the nearby Tyn-y-Coed Hotel where we had a separate room booked for dinner.  Now it was time to assess the cadets in a skill not usually associated with the CCF, maths.  Each armed with the prices from the menu and a budget the question was set, ‘what is the largest amount of food and drink I can order for £20’.  Calculator apps were even spotted as this was serious business."

Day 5

"Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end, the last day had come and after all had returned to Kingham Hill School and after clearing out and cleaning the vehicles the cadets were one by one picked up ready for two weeks of sleep.

"Judging by the comments, smiles and enthusiasm from the cadets it was a successful week.  All conducted themselves exceptionally well and I hope this brief insight into the world of Adventurous Training has inspired them to investigate further AT opportunities open to them both within the CCF and in their personal lives."