Day 4 Update
Thursday was a trip to the Brecon and Monmouthshire for Green group to canoe the three miles back to Plas Pencelli. After arriving at the Ashford tunnel, the children carefully prepared the equipment for the day ahead, ensuring that they had buoyancy aids, paddles, canoes, and enough layers for an arctic expedition. The children began their journey canoeing in groups of three to the small village of Talybont. It was here we had lunch and kept as warm as possible with soup and hot chocolate, while huddled under a parachute tent. After lunch it was back to the canal to paddle the remaining two miles back to the centre. This time the children tied the canoes into two rafts and a competitive element reared its head as the children raced each other back.
Charlie and Oscar showed natural technique in the canoe, and Jack was an individual who really pushed himself to become very comfortable with an activity he had reservations over. Once back to the basin, the children had the opportunity to jump into the canal. Surely, after the bitterly cold conditions and driving the rain, the children would never consider this. I was wrong! Led by Elizabeth swimming in the canal, others followed, and soon a fair few were enjoying boots full of canal water! After mentioning their teamwork all week, it was today’s activity where the children showed steely determination to complete their task. The conditions were diabolical and the children showed an incredible amount of character to persevere, encourage each other, and achieve their goal. Well done Green team!
After a slightly slow start to the day, Yellow group got into their minibus and headed off to the Eglwys Faen caves. There was a 1.5 mile walk to the caves in the wind and rain, but Yellow group took it in their stride and marched on quickly without complaint. Lunch was by torchlight in the dry cave before we set off on our caving adventure. All of Yellow group were very brave in the caves, and supportive and encouraging of each other.
Lily M said she was very nervous about caving but tackled challenge presented to her courageously. This was quite a challenging day for the children but they faced their fears and then celebrated with a warming mug of hot chocolate. Yellow group did brilliantly today and it was lovely to see their team spirit level high!
Blue group battled all the elements today as they went on a 1.5 mile walk to the Eglwys Faen caves. The wind was blowing and the rain was beating down, but morale was high and, once again, they worked so well as a team – supporting and helping. Lunch in itself was an adventure, as the children ate under a parachute tent they made for cover and warmth – before venturing into the caves! Every one of them gave their all in the caves – all completing the ‘cheese press’ (apart from Miss Polan).
Leo and Rebekah were great at encouraging others and although Freddy was really nervous about small areas, he faced his fears brilliantly. This was by far the most challenging day the children have faced and they pulled together extremely well!
If ‘challenge’ was a day, Red group had it today. Canoeing was today’s activity and the weather gods had it in for us, but the children were raring to go. After some instructions, we got into the canoes for a practise and it wasn’t long before we set off down the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal. It seemed like we had a group of professional canoeists, with very few bumps or collisions, although one canoe did end up going backwards for a bit. The children successfully completed various challenges, including the bridge limbo, swapping seats and standing up whilst paddling.
Tom was excellent today, steering the boat and paddling with so much energy. Even though Ellie thought she was going to find it hard, she rose to the challenge, and was very encouraging to her team-mates. After a few hours of canoeing in the wind and rain, the children still had some energy left to jump into the canal! A fantastic day, in atrocious conditions, but the Red team certainly met their challenge head on and smashed it!
Orange group pulled their trump card today as the weather was so bad in the normal areas used for climbing, that it was decided instead to go down to the Gower Peninsula as it would be better weather. On the drive down over the Brecon Beacons, the snow was beating down and the mountains looked spectacular covered in snow. On the approach to the Gower, the snow has turned to light rain and by the time we had got our equipment sorted out, the rain stopped and didn’t return until our trip back to Pencelli. There was a 30 minute walk from drop off point to the beach where the climbing ropes were set up on the cliffs.
The whole group found the belaying a little difficult but eventually all picked it up. Thomas, Bella and Izzy showed particular skill at climbing, but all found the coming back down a little problematic. Everyone in the group had a really good time down on the Gower. We did have some concerns on the way back that our supper would be eaten as we were very late back to Pencelli, but luckily it was still waiting for us!