Isis CC Summer Holiday


Simon, Ben, Adam, Alice, Rach and I drove up to Snowdonia on Friday. We met in the morning to share the load between Rach and Simon's cars and then headed off into the wilderness. We didn't last very long in the wilderness though because before long we had to stop at the Little Chef for some food. It was no ordinary Little Chef though as Heston Blumenthal had worked his magic on it. With birdsong in the toilets and clouds on the ceiling the revamped LC was quite impressive. From the tea tray Simon was presented with, to the braised ox cheek on Ben's plate, we decided that it was actually quite good and that the chips were amazing.

On arriving in Snowdonia we made a start erecting the tent and realised that it was very, very windy. So windy in fact that we quickly called Ben's missus and Liam to get them to bring some extra tents in case ours didn't last the weekend! Seriously, we were very worried. At about 11.30pm, the rest of our group arrived, consisting of Liam, Helen, Lexi and Joe, and our group was assembled ready for a very full weekend.

Saturday: Canyoning

We all woke after an eventful night and slowly got ourselves ready for the canyoning. Starting at 1pm we decided to pop into Betwys-y-Coed for a little kit fondling at Cotswold Outdoors. Then we moved towards the meeting point, which happened to just be next to a nuclear power facility on a huge lake at Trawsfyndd. We drove to Coed-y-Brenin forest and got our wet suits, cags, buoyancy aids and helmets on and started our walk to the get in.

We were all advised to acclimatise ourselves by immediately dunking ourselves in the water, face and all. Since everyone was used to the Thames it was an easy first task, and we set off bumping, sliding and floating our way down the river. We all had a few freestyle jumps off a fairly high drop and even managed to sit under a waterfall. The photos show it best so take a peek at the slideshow below. The culmination of the scramble was a 25-30ft drop into a plunge pool. Some people did it with style, others with grace and finesse, some were given a gentle nudge and others almost slipped in. Alice managed to face plant, which was quite spectacular, while I stood at the top for about 20 minutes before I finally motioned forward and the instructor 'helped' me off the edge before we stayed all night. An awesome afternoon. We will never forget that when someone says 'slide' and they point at a river, it is likely to be a very bumpy ride.

On the way home we managed to commandeer a special room of a pub just for our group for some good food and lots of home-made fairy cakes. We slowly warmed up thanks to a few pints and then made out way back to the campsite in the dark.

Sunday: Snowdon

In the wee small hours of the night the wind was gusting at 25mph and the tent wasn't enjoying it. In fact the tent was doing as much as it could to escape by collapsing. We could hear the wind at the top of the mountain next to us slowly making its way down to ground level and shaking all the other tents before it reached ours. Helen and I who were in the corner which was most hit were doing our best to hold it up initially, and then Ben and I jumped out to sort out the guy ropes and we all settled down inside to pray it would calm down.

In the morning we all awoke to breakfast in the tent and then made our way across to Snowdon. We had three Snowdon virgins with us - Lexi, Rach and Adam. It was drizzling gently initially, then stopped just in time for us to get kitted up in the car park and then off we went. The higher we got the more it rained and the more the cloud came in. Eventually, Rach's impressive blisters forced her to turn back with Helen for company and they spent the afternoon in a dry Welsh/Dutch cafe eating cake. Not bad!

After a while we noticed some foam which seemed to be being generated by my pants. What we thought was a washing up liquid spillage turned out to be a half eaten pack of mint imperials which had mixed with about a gallon of rain water and made a lovely froth. The rest of us plodded on, and on, and on, until eventually amid the cloud we saw the summit (cafe), and ducked inside for a break from the rain. My dismay at the lack of tables and chairs thanks to all the tourists on the train may have been mentioned once or twice, but eventually we found a corner and hung up our sodden clothes and had lunch. We had managed to scale Wales's highest some miserable weather.

Then we realised that we needed to go back out into the rain and wind. We emerged into the cloud and set off. Then, the cloud broke, the sun came out and we managed to dry off as Alice galloped down Snowdon like a mountain goat.

That evening was spent in the pub with the boys eating a mixed grill each and the ladies eating fish and chips while Ben drew cartoons of our tent flying away on his ipad.

Monday: Go Ape

Rach's blisters had festered since the canyoning/mountaineering. At the risk of taking her home with just bloody stumps on the end of her legs we decided it was best to take it easy for the day so we decided to go to Go Ape in Coed-y-Brenin forest. Given that I am not great with jumping off high things, and Ben is even worse, it may not have been the best choice.

It was a sunny and warm day compared to the others, so we had lunch at the cafe and then a quick tutorial with karabiners and harnesses on the lowest level platforms, then we decided to chance it and set off for the increasingly higher platforms via a series of ladders, ropes, bridges, swings and nets. After clinging (some of us literally) to various platforms in the trees, the experience ended by throwing yourself into the air in the direction of a huge cargo net. It took a bit of courage to step out into the abyss, but we all managed it and then came to the final zip wire down to terra firma.

Afterwards we rustled up some pasta and other bits and bobs for dinner. A second game of Monopoly amid the midges and we were ready for bed.

Tuesday: Tryfan

We awoke to another lovely sunny day and for the first time we could see the top of Tryfan. We took the lack of cloud as a good sign and enjoyed a lovely breakfast on our private bench on our terrace listening to the sound of a tin whistle being played AGAIN by the son of a man who looked like a smurf. After getting buzzed by a low flying Typhoon jet which was following the shape of the valley very loudly, we eventually set off to scramble up the best mountain in Wales. Our start was slow but we eventually got a good pace going as we stopped walking and started scrambling up the rock face. We occasionally stopped to admire the view as our campsite got smaller and smaller.

As we reached the top and saw the familiar standing stones of Adam and Eve, there was nobody else around and just a raven flitting around occasionally. We had lunch and then asked a father and son to take photos just as they arrived to join us.

Our descent was much more difficult down a scree-style slope, but just as we reached the bottom another jet shot past in the distance. After such a good climb we decided only dinner at the pub would work, followed by a session of ultimate frisbee in the park until it became dark and we started throwing it into car parks.

We drove home on Wednesday because the weather took a turn for the worse...again, stopping at the Little Chef on the way home...again. A brilliant few days and a good end to the summer, not that you get much of that in Wales!

- Jen

Photos by Jen.