However, we were not homeward bound straight away. Our first stop was the RSPB Centre – a nature reserve on the east side of the Conwy Estuary. After admiring Snowdonia and Conwy Castle in the distance we set about of litter pick . Fauna, Jake, Ria and Megan tooK the job very seriously and persevered with the task. It’s amazing what was found: a fender from a yacht, planks of wood, a shoe and…a message in a bottle that had travelled about 20 miles. Due to the rain we had to huddle under parachute shelters.Children are currently boarding the coach in preparation for the four hour return journey home. Hopefully they are all so exhausted it’ll only be the odd snore that disturbs the peace!
Grassy paths and tracks led us to the top of Conwy Mountain where we admired the stunning views, saw wild horses and learned about an Iron Age hill fort. The “three peak challenge” also led us up Altwern and Penmaen-Bach – it’s a good job that breakfast included bacon, beans, hash browns and toast this morning, especially because the girls kept us all awake again!
We picked bilberries as we climbed the colossal mountains in foggy, drizzly conditions, resulting in purple tongues all round. Amelia demonstrated great map reading skills and had a great sense of direction and everyone was supportive of each other during the endless climb. Hope was not shy when it came to showing her exhaustion and would often throw herself to the ground for a rest or she would be heard giggling continuously. Ria and Georgia worked particularly well as a team on the mountains. At the summit, one group made bracelets out of nettles and the other made mini boats and miniature “arrows”.
After persevering with our mountain climb, we descended to a nearby beach. Traversing across the rocks to reach the shore was a challenge in itself and required perseverance, but we did it and found butter worms, crabs, starfish and other sea creatures. Ria was very keen to bring a copious amount of seaweed home with her and Erin was often spotted with the claw/pincher of dead crabs which she wanted as a souvenir.
Looking a little wind swept to say the least, we returned to the 112 bedroom centre that has become our home to clean our walking boots before eating chicken and roast potatoes for dinner. Children are currently attempting to pack what they can in preparation for tomorrow’s departure; Daniel, Elliot and Lily seem particularly organised so far.
Stars of the day: Tom and Megan for both being so caring, gentle and considerate when motivating other (less enthusiastic) children to climb the mountains.
Gorge scrambling – an amazing river adventure: A fantastic day was had by all as we clambered over rocks (safely of course) with water gushing towards us, slid down natural slides and paddled in the pools. Working as a team to be proud of, we supported each other through the small gap known affectionately as “the elephant’s bottom” and we all felt a real sense of achievement. Lily B acted as a water taxi chauffeuring people across the water on her back whilst Sam was almost delirious with happiness and excitement. Elliot and Harvey were both amazing and have shown such perseverance today.
One of the biggest challenges today was applying sun cream without getting it in eyes! Erin and Lily can climb trees, light fires, canoe across lakes, motivate teams, climb over boulders, scramble through waterfalls etc, but struggled a little to apply a small dollop of cream to their own skin!
Having climbed over rocks, the next challenge was to climb trees. Some scurried up like squirrels, others swung in the sky (in a harness and on a trapeze) like Tarzan. There was no stopping some people. Tom, Leah and Sam both scrambled up in no time to ring the bell and set a great example.
Fauna, who hasn’t stopped smiling since we arrived, has been so helpful at dinner time and is always willing to lend a hand.
Stars of the Day: Alex for offering motivating and supportive advice and encouragement to those around him during the tree climbing challenge. Lily H for challenging herself and achieving all of her goals.
This evening’s activities involved a challenge wall and a low rope obstacle course. Amelie, Amelia and Emilia were a great team and Marcus had us all giggling when his partner was supporting him across a balancing beam and Marcus could be heard yelling, “Woah, woah, woah, we are not on our honeymoon!”
Hopes of an early night last night were dashed quickly; the excitement of rope courses, bunk beds, biscuits, a pool table and table football was just too much for some. We took great pleasure in waking last night’s offenders from their slumber bright and early this morning.
Tidiest room award goes to Sam, Tom, Theo and Bradley. Messiest and noisiest room ‘award’ goes to Lily B, Hope, Megan, Fauna, Rosie, Poppy, Georgia and Leah – what a mess and a terrible noise!
Breakfast consisted of endless amounts of porridge, cereal and toast followed by bacon, beans and hash browns. Lily H and Amelie gave us the weather forecast before we set off on our day of adventuring: temperatures of 29 degrees!
Both groups hoisted canoes onto the water and paddled (although some more than others) across Llyn Padarn (a glacially formed lake in Snowdonia). The water in the 94 foot deep lake was cold, but not too cold for a paddle/swim at the end of a long day.
With aching arms and wet feet, we arrived at a secluded spot where we chopped and collected wood. With the exception of the small train that occasionally passed along the Llanberis Railway, a family of ducks and a toad, there was little sign of any other life on our “island”. Fires were lit, marshmallows were toasted (or cremated by some) and bread was made. Poppy and Georgia tried and tried to start the fire with a stick and a flint, and although they persevered, they eventually had to admit defeat.
Squeals of joy echoed around the lake as we raced back to the shore, and then got very wet! With wellies full to the brim with water, we loaded up the mini buses and returned to the centre where tea and cakes were waiting. To their horror, the children were then responsible for cleaning the boot room, tidying the mini buses and laying the tables. Dinner was vegetable curry and rice or sausage and mash followed by jelly and ice cream.
Stars of the day have been awarded to: Sam for his excellent coordination and organisation skills (he was a great team leader when canoeing); Rosie for her fantastic manners and friendly, supportive attitude; Daniel for great listening skills and for carrying out instructions carefully during canoeing and bushcraft; Harvey for really engaging in all activities and being so positive.
Once again, all of the children have been an absolute pleasure to spend time with. What a sociable, funny, confident and caring group they are.
Fitbit count: 16,245 steps (but we also did a lot of paddling!)
As I type at 10.15pm, the corridors are silent and all lights are out – here’s hoping that I haven’t just jinxed it!
After a loooonnng and NOISY journey of “Are we nearly there yet?” we have safely arrived at our home for the week. The sun was shining as we picnicked on the veranda before getting suited and booted for our forthcoming adventures. A whistle stop tour of the huge sixteenth century building (built on the site of a former monastery) was followed by a walk amongst the thirty-five acres of woodland and a trip up a fairly small hill (which many described as “exhausting” and “painful” so the “Three Peak Challenge” will be interesting). Having admired the spectacular panoramic view of the Conwy Estuary, we returned to the centre for dinner. On the menu tonight was pizza or jacket potato, followed by sticky toffee pudding.
Marcus has come prepared with not one, but two fans and a box of Thornton chocolates; Leah has had several outfit changes already; Alex and Rosie were very helpful at the dinner table and Poppy and Leah led the singing on the coach.
Fitbit count: 18354 steps (and it isn’t even bedtime yet!)
This evening, half the group did the nightlife challenge – a blindfolded assault course – whilst the other half played some team games. Stars of the day were: Theo, who was natural team leader, giving clear instructions to children on a set of giant “skis” and Lily B, who was a great guide along the night line.
The award for the largest suitcase also goes to Lily B, the quirkiest case award goes to Elliot and the smallest case award goes to Hope.
As I type, children are writing short journal entries which -fingers crossed -will exhaust them and result in an early night!