In glorious early springtime weather, 18 students from school and The Shewsy met up for the first time to get to know more about each other, enjoying a change of scene and the opportunity to push individual limits and work as a team.
Thanks to our Head of Adventure, Tom Folker and Matt and Erin from Gateway Outdoors, a fun and challenging weekend programme was put together.
Having arrived at a golden sunset over the mountains, we soon needed headtorches to explore the pine forest trails leading up into barren hilltops, where we were met with a full moon and starry sky, largely untouched by city light pollution. Team building was starting – how to navigate together safely in darkness, passing on messages to avoid wet feet, bumps and scratches – humble beginnings for bigger challenges ahead the next day.
Next morning there was a sunrise to match the best, hitting Tally full on – everyone was up and about early and ready in teams for climbing and gorge walking. This was to be an interesting day: warm rock or cold water in a shaded gorge? As the climbers pushed their limits and their grade of ascent, most of the gorge walkers (perfectly understandably from my dry cameraman vantage point at the side) were initially more than a little discouraged by the water temperature and the need to gradually immerse themselves as the gorge opened up with pools and waterfalls – a few screeches escaped! However, it was only a matter of minutes before the group had acclimatised and focused its collective mind on the task at hand – safely negotiating the Afon Ddu gorge. Pupils went from ‘I can’t do that’ to helping and encouraging each other to surmount each and every obstacle working upwards with stamina and skill.
Reward for a hard day’s effort and great achievement was a fish and chip supper in the middle of Betws-Y-Coed before a relaxed evening back up at Tally. On Sunday we had time in the morning for some bouncy fun at the High Ropes Centre, having a relax and time to say goodbyes before returning home.
John Dumbell, Team Leader at The Shewsy, who is a strong advocate of the value of residential trips for the members of the club, was delighted with the outcome of this inaugural shared trip to Tally. He felt that although both sets of young people travelled to Tally via different routes, literally and metaphorically, they bonded brilliantly over the activities provided. They pushed individual and shared limits and comfort zones, were great ambassadors for the School and The Shewsy respectively, doing themselves (and the partnership they represent) proud. We are already looking at how we can build on the links made by this group, keen to take John up on his offer for a visit to The Shewsy sooner rather than later.
Feedback from those involved was that the trip was worthwhile to get to know more about our historic and thriving link with The Shewsy – that it was fun, challenging and worth repeating.
I would like to commend both our girls and boys and the young people from the Shewsy on being so wonderfully open to this adventure – a step into the unknown in more ways than one, but entered into with generous spirit, good humour and a more than a modicum of courage.
Head of Partnership and Community Engagement
Click on the video below to watch highights from the trip and to hear from pupils.