Gorgeous gorge scrambles

Today was Rebecca’s birthday and also Mr Alderson’s fiftieth visit to Kent Mountain Centre! In the common room before the day’s activities were announced Mr Alderson was presented with a golden walking boot to commemorate this anniversary; 50 visits is definitely a special achievement. Beccy’s, arose early to accessorise the room with celebratory decorations. We woke her up by singing happy birthday to her, throwing balloons and shining head torches towards her; she was not happy at first.
After this early start and a hearty breakfast of potato smileys and bacon (!!!!!!!!!), we were informed by our instructor Jez, that we were going gorge scrambling at Afon Ddu, about 40 minutes’ drive away from the centre. This involved us bringing a full spare set of clothes, a towel, waterproof equipment, wellies, harnesses, buoyancy aids, helmets and a lot of energy!
Eager to get going, we arrived at the gorge and got straight into the gushing downward stream of water. A gorge is a water course (river or stream) that has cut into the land creating a narrow, rocky and often steep path down which the water flows. We spent our day climbing up this, which was challenging but totally exhilarating.
Our first optional big challenge, was to climb over a pool of water via the wall of rock containing limited foot holes. The key for this part, and for many other parts, was to have large stretching legs to reach the far grips to place our wellies to not fall into the thigh high pool of water. We all got the choice to go through this, or walk through shallow water to our close goal. The whole team chose to accept the challenge, we were all very successful, even though Mia (a short-legged one), had to take a few attempts. The gorge was hugely busy; almost entirely clogged up with the thick traffic of excited children kitted out with waterproof clothing and wellie boots.
Moving further up the gorge, we jumped and slipped from rock to rock, frolicking in the natural playground of Afon Ddu. Ed face-planted a water-fall, and Maria fell waist deep into a pool, resulting in soaking clothes less than half way up the gorge! It was surprisingly difficult to move along the gorge, as water was constantly gushing against us. This also made it tricky to hear instructions from Jez, however an upside of the constant flow of fresh water was that we never went thirsty; the water from welsh waterfalls is far better than your average bottle of Buxton!
We came across an obstacle Jez nicknamed ‘The Elephant’s Bum’; this involved struggling up yet another upward stream and then between two wedged boulders through a narrow gap. Miss Hodgett took some exceeding attractive pictures of the slightly befuddled emerging students.
Approaching the top we faced the largest water-fall yet. Most members of the team took the opportunity to go for a swim; we splashed around at the base of the water fall, and even climbed behind the wall of water and looked through down the gorge.
Whilst climbing across the log, past a water-fall, we glanced up to the grey angry sky and saw the familiar friendly faces of the sunbeam groups! The brave members of the group balanced on the log, whilst others decided to bum-shuffle to the amusement of the on-looking team. The two groups shared some brief, but fulfilling banter at the top of the water-fall.
Our final and maybe most enjoyable obstacle was the plunge pool, but before this we had to climb up a nearly vertical rock using the assistance of Jez, a pink rope and some very strong carabineers. The plunge pool was a very deep pool the water fall had worn into the rock. Every member jumped from the ledge above the pool; Miss Hodgett and Brian once again took the opportunity to get some action shots. It was completely worth half freezing ourselves to death for the sheer rush jumping gave us all!
Shivering and exhausted, we made our way out of the gorge and down the ridiculously steep hill back to the car park, where various other groups had gathered to get out of their sopping clothes. The girls scampered to end of the woods to get into dry clothes, and came across lots of annoyed teams who’d had the same idea.
We finally managed to board the bus, at least half dried and famished (Hannah’s posh vocabulary). Lily, as usual, snatched up any spare food and ate at least four packets of raisins.
Now, whilst we are all blogging, we are slightly distracted by very pretty fireworks lighting up the sky (which seems bigger than ever here) over the mountains outside. We have convinced Mr Alderson that these are for him to celebrate his fiftieth visit- of course they are nothing to do with Bonfire Night being yesterday…

By Lily Finch and Hannah Francis

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