by Charlie Henderson
Early on the Monday of the second week of the summer holidays, thirty cadets from the Navy and Air Force sections of PGS' CCF, set off for the Brecon Beacons, in Wales. Each cadet would go caving, canoeing and gorge walking.
Our first activity was caving in the heart of the Brecon Beacons. One of the first things you notice on entering a cave is the drop in temperature (from 30°c to about 6°c). As we descended into the gloom, our instructor explained how the limestone walls of the cave were eroded by acidic water over hundreds of millions of years. As we moved further into the cave the ceiling dropped until we were commando-crawling through a passage 30cm high and 100cm wide that was going steeply downwards. The passage then opened into a cavern almost 20 metres high, with a stream running down the centre. On the walls and ceiling grew a lichen which reflected the light from our head torches, giving the cave a surreal air. After exploring the cramped lower levels of the cave we took part in an orienteering exercise.
After two nights of comfort in the centre we loaded a minibus with camping kit for a night out on the banks of the river Wye. We drove a short distance to the river Wye, with a trailer stacked with canoes and camping gear. Our route would take us through Hay-on-Wye and the surrounding farmland and finish, ten miles downstream, in Witney-on-Wye. Two to a canoe we set off, negotiating ourselves around rapids and the occasional fisherman; and after a mid-way swimming break we arrived at our campsite six hours after setting off.
On our last full day we drove through the Brecon Beacons to series of gorges at the base of one of a barren mountain. We slid down a steep bank and dropped into the stream. Soon we reached our first jump, a couple of metres off the top a waterfall, into the plunge pool below. the climax of the activity was a six metre jump, into a 10 metre deep pool. After you jumped you were in free fall for more than a second, and hit the water at almost 40 km/h.
The trip was extremely enjoyable, and gave all of us the opportunities experience activities that many hadn’t done before. Thanks must go to Mr Harris and Mrs Carter for organising such a fantastic trip, and to all the staff at Trewern OEC for their enthusiasm and expertise which made the trip unforgettable.