One of Highdown School’s great traditions is the annual year 8 trip to the Rhos-Y-Gwaliau outdoors adventure centre in Wales, located some 200 miles inside the boundaries of the Snowdonia national park. Having left early Sunday morning we finally arrived late afternoon, after a brief induction our student groups were each bussed to a remote location and asked to find their way back to the centre. This was a task which involved map work, navigation, teamwork and invariably getting a little bit lost (for at least one group). All of our groups found their way home before dark having had the opportunity to explore and experience the mountainous terrain for themselves, the owner of one of the local farms they passed through was the first of many to comment on how polite and enthusiastic our pupils were.
Monday was arguably the only day with questionable weather as we awoke to pouring rain, however the groups completed their chores quickly (clearing away breakfast tables, cleaning minibuses and weather forecasting) and were soon ready to start the day’s activities. The rain benefited our two climbing groups as they had the opportunity to descend into a slate mine and following a short spelunking adventure they carried out their climbs inside a Slate mine. Those groups on water activities braved the elements to Sail and Kayak on Lake Bala, the inclement weather made the experience far more challenging than the calmer days that followed but they all coped admirably… only occasionally capsizing.
The following day our first groups went out on expedition, spending two days hiking in Snowdonia national park as they learned about teamwork, resilience and becoming self-sufficient. After planning what they would to survive the experience they packed rucksacks and headed out into the wilderness, guided by one of the outstanding leaders at the centre. Once the groups set up camp they took the opportunity to summit one of the local peaks before settling down for the evening, in the knowledge they would be making the return journey tomorrow (before spending a relaxing afternoon building rafts).
Over Tuesday and Wednesday the instructors were all impressed by the progress our water activity groups made as they became more experienced in each activity. It is worthy of note that the centre leader was so impressed by one of our groups that when the opportunity arose he decided to challenge them by gorge walking in an area usually reserved for experienced leaders. To close Wednesday the entire group had the chance to relax at the local leisure centre.
Over the remaining days each group enthusiastically completed their remaining activities, one outstanding individual even completed her expedition despite their trip to Wrexham. The behaviour and attitude of all students during the week was exemplary and the feedback from several leaders was that this was the best Highdown group they had ever had (sorry previous years!).
Next year’s group will have a tough act to follow.