Bexley Grammar School

Mariam Imahe, Lorna Lawrence, Melanie Pereira, Mubosola Olayinka

Camping in Wales

Ever wondered how it would feel to walk in mud-filled boots for 4 hours? Well we could definitely provide you with a detailed description of this experience. For our challenge, we decided to go camping in Wales for a week. At first we were rather nervous of our decision because it was outside all of our comfort zones, however as we continued to plan for our journey we became more determined and excited for this chance to prove our capabilities to our parents, peers and most importantly, ourselves. The planning of the journey was a really difficult and frustrating experience and there were times we doubted our ability to complete the project but we continued to persevere and encourage one another as we knew that our hardwork would pay off. It took approximately 7 months to plan for the journey and the activities we would do in the 5 days we were in Wales. Day 1: On the 25th of August we finally set off on our Journey to Wales. The coach ride was a 9 hour ride but time went so fast. When we finally arrived in Wales, our activities began immediately. We had to hike to our first campsite with our heavy rucksacks; the hills and unfamiliar environment making it scary however the view was enchanting. Even though we had a map we had to ask for directions from many of the locals and, after the grueling 2 hour 30 minute hike, we finally reached our destination! Our biggest challenge that night was cooking the food with a gas cooker as we’d had no previous practise doing this. However the night wasn’t completely full of hardships; we were lucky that night and we put our astrology skills to practice. The sky was lit with stars, we even got to see the Big Dipper we had learnt about on our visit to the Greenwich Planetarium.

Day 2 Our hike to Llyn Celyn Bach began by 9.30 am. We were all optimistic during the hike and didn’t allow the cow poo and deep swamps we encountered along the way to dampen our spirits. Eventually, after walking for 3 hours we came to a field of cow’s. The map we were using illustrated a path that leadacross the field but we could see no such path. Despite this we walked across feigning confidence as the cow’s followed us suspiciously. We stayed silent and pretended to be calm till we reached a steep downhill trail. Due to our anxiety to get away from the cow’s we successfully made it down the valley despite the fear we should’ve felt due to how steep and dangerous the trail was. We found ourselves in a creek; we were at a dead end. The footpath the map had shown us was non-existent! We couldn’t turn back as the trail was too steep and we didn’t want to face those cows again, so we began to climb uphill in the opposite direction of the cows. This was even more dangerous as the further we climbed up, the more dangerous and risky falling into the rocks and river became. We refused to turn around or even talk of giving up and helped one another up, however the further we climbed the harder it became till it was too frightening for one of our group members. She began to have a panic attack and couldn’t climb up any further. Another member of the group stayed with her encouraging

her and holding her while another member and I continued to climb up in search of a way out. We removed our backpacks and, being urged on by determination to help our friend we managed to push the other member to the top and after great difficulty, she caught hold of something and swiftly pulled herself up before pulling me up with her. Together we ran through the neighbouring field shouting for help at the top of our lungs; it honestly felt like a scene out of an action movie! We finally found the farmer who owned the field and after describing the situation to him we asked him to bring rope. A couple of minutes later we saw him approach us with rope and two other friends who helped us to calm down. They asked how on earth we’d climbed this trail without any harnesses or rope and explained that the trail had been removed several years ago. What felt like months later, we were reunited with the other two members and our belongings and an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude washed over each and every one of us. Once we reached the campsite, after the ‘suffering’we went through, we were exhausted and questioning if it was worth completing such a dangerous challenge, with this we all fell asleep.

Day 3: Together we decided to stay in Wales and continue our challenged because we didn’t want to just give up. Our hike round Lake Padarn felt rather relaxing in comparison to the dangers of yesterday. On the way we passed the Dolbadarn Castle, The Slate Museum and Quarry Hospital where we stopped to have a picnic.

Day 4: This was the day we walked up Snowdon. I was afraid that by walking up the mountain without our bags, we were being too easy on ourselves and losing the challenging aspect of the whole trip. Within 30 minutes of our hike it was apparent that my worry was unnecessary. Not only were we slipping constantly but we were out of breath and needed to take frequent breaks just to summon the energy to continue; it was a total 7 hour hike after all. It was really windy on the mountain and there was a minor hail storm. Despite this we continued to encourage each other and stuck together through the climb. As we continued up the mountain the path became thinner and thinner which was an encouraging sign that we were getting closer to the summit. When we finally reached the summit of the mountain we were so relieved but it was anticlimactic as it was very dark and foggy at the summit and we could barely see. We also had to walk back down the mountain with the heavy wind and thick fog.

Day 5: When we woke up we discovered that our bags had gotten soaked in last night’s storm and we really had no dry clothes left. This is one of the biggest challenges we faced because, not only is it not healthy to wear wet clothes, it is also depressing as blankets and socks that usually warm you are contributing to the coldness you’re feeling. We were all shivering and huddled by the pot while making breakfast in hopes that this would provide warmth. Indeed it did and we soon felt warmer and brighter before leaving for Treborth. Again, we took a bus towards Treborth in order to not encounter the trail we had passed through on the 2nd day. We got off the bus approximately 1hr from the campsite because we still intended to challenge ourselves for the duration of this trip. The warm weather remained with us late into the evening giving us an opportunity to dry the clothes we’d be returning home in the following day. We cooked the best dinner we’d eaten all week and spoke well into the night reviewing the adventures of the week and all the bad moments but, more importantly, the good moments.

Day 6: We woke up early and trekked with our backpacks for 1hr before reaching Bangor station where our coach to Victoria would be picking us shortly. Once we arrived at Victoria, it was a relief to be back in London and return to family and warm, clean clothes as we really did smell horrid but not one of us can say we don’t miss Wales, the people at the campsites, or the thrill of being without parental guidance and having to make responsible decisions for ourselves. Overall as a group, we can say that this has been a truly life-changing experience. A stronger bond has grown between us as the importance of friendship became clear to us. When one of our lives were on the line, we set our differences aside and we did all that we could to save them; that is true friendship. We discovered our strengths and our weaknesses which allowed us to grow as young adults and some of the lessons we learned will most definitely help us as we become adults and we will be forever grateful for being given this opportunity to learn our strengths, overcome our weaknesses and discover our true potential. We are thoroughly thankful for the Mark Evison Team and our school, Bexley Grammar School, for encouraging us through this physical, mental and emotional journey that we have endured this summer. We feel that every teenager should challenge themselves as this allows for personal development and that some of the things that you may have thought were impossible are in fact possible. If we can do it, YOU CAN DO IT !