On the morning of Friday, Sept 14th, most of the group gathered at the Kinderton Hotel, Middlewich for our usual fortnightly coffee morning. After the get-together, those that had booked to go on the Calvert Trust trip formed a convoy of cars and headed off north to the Lake District. After a long drive, we all arrived safely at Keswick just gone 3 pm. We left behind the rain and were welcomed with glorious sun over the mountains. It didn’t take long to check in, find our rooms and explore the main centre.
After a brief rest and drinks for all, we were introduced to our guides for the weekend, Chris and Lou. We sat down with them, split into 2 groups and arranged the activities for the days ahead. We were given a list of activities to choose from and decided between all of us that we would go indoor climbing, Ghyll scrambling, Horse riding, Archery, Swimming, Bush survival and tree top high wire climbing. The sessions varied between 2 and 4 hours, transport provided for off-site events.
On Friday night, we booked a swimming session for all. It turned out to be a milestone for one of our youngest members, Amelia who was just 4 years old. she had a fear of water, and our main aim for her was to try and overcome this phobia. The plan was to let her watch the others have fun and join in of her own volition. In the end, the temptation was just too much and Amelia was soon standing on the top step of the pool, and her mum Chelsey was in the pool fully dressed. Dinner time on Saturday, saw Chelsey and her partner James heading into town to get Amelia’s very first swimsuit. The second night, Amelia was again in the water, this time up to her waist having lots of fun. Whilst this may seem to be a relatively simple achievement, in the grand scheme of things it has led to a major lifestyle change that has been an absolute joy to watch. It was also the first of many firsts for our group members!
Saturday morning, after breakfast, the groups split up. Group A went ghyll scrambling, whilst Group B went indoor climbing, abseiling and on the indoor swing.
Ghyll Scrambling, (if you’ve not had the chance to go), is when you climb through a mountain stream, which included a number of small waterfalls. In preparation, you get waterproofs, a hard hat and either wellies, hiking boots or you can wear a pair of trainers. It should be mentioned no matter which you choose you were destined to get your feet wet. The water to start with was freezing, but once you get going you soon warmed up. It was a bit disconcerting at first but you learn to find your footing. Pretty soon, once we gained our confidence walking through the water and on the rocks, we were soon helping each other climb up the side of the mountain. There were a few slips here and there, along with the singing of “Baby Shark” to help Meghan forget her fear and the stop the tears. We climbed over fallen tree’s and even under them, lucky we had our hard hats on. There was one moment when Jackie stood on the end of her waterproofs as they were so long, and then as Becca turned to look back, she slipped and landed on her bum in the water… Under normal circumstances this could have caused her to have a meltdown, however, in this instance, she got up and laughed about it with everyone. When we eventually got home, we went through the camera footage, and found her slip up, and watched it several times. Phil was responsible for taking action shots whilst in the ghyll and for catching Becca falling in the water. Credit goes to Jordan as for most of the way he was leading the gang going through the ghyll and finding a path for all through the fast flowing water. On the way home in the bus, we had to leave our water filled wellies and boots on, and when we removed the boots we had several small streams of water. It took a long while for everything to dry out.
In parallel to the ghyll scrambling, group B had a go at archery and horse riding. Everyone enjoyed their ‘Robin Hood’ moment Andy proved himself to be quite the archer, managing to do a ‘robin hood’ shot and split John’s arrow which was in the centre of the ‘Gold’, breaking it into two pieces. Those who rode were taken for a walk to the top of the hills and were treated to spectacular views whilst enjoying the company of the ponies. As Alex is not keen on being around large animals, but with a little encouragement managed to overcome this by driving a pony and trap around the specially built course at the centre.
After both groups had finished we all met up for lunch and with all sorts of giggles and deep explanations discussed what we’d been up to. It was only then we what was to happen later.
On Saturday afternoon, Group A tried their hand at horse riding and archery, which showed some promising archers, and we had a fun competition having split into two teams. James helped Amelia to shoot her arrows at the targets, and they proved to be a good team. There were a few drawstring bruises to show afterwards but everyone enjoyed themselves especially when trying to aim for the swinging targets.
In the afternoon, group B were tucked up into the indoor gym, having a go at climbing and abseiling. After having a safety talk, the group were shown how to put on the harness and how to adjust them so they fit each individual. The group was then broken into smaller groups, with one person climbing and the others being the belay, or braking safety system. Everyone started on an easy sloped wall, and once confident, the level of walls got harder. Several of the group even had a go at the overhanging walls which presented a much greater challenge. After the climbing, the group had the opportunity to have a go at abseiling. Once done here they had a go on the swing in the centre of the hall. We gave it the nickname of the ‘Swing of Screams’. You get raised by rope to the very top of the gym, there’s a countdown and then the instructor releases the catch which holds you in place. You then experience a slight drop, your stomach does a summersault and you’re suddenly free and flying without wings, and screaming your head off.
By the time our evening meal was provided, we were all exhausted! The food was a little basic but good and there was as much tea and coffee as we could drink. Once our food had settled, we were off to have another swimming session, with everyone having fun and lots of laughter. The warm water was a great way to relax after a long day. It did not end here though as we ended up in the community room, playing snooker, table tennis and chatting. Most eventually drifted off to bed to get some sleep as they were worn out from the day’s activities. However, following Ewan and Eliza’s suggestion, the kids decided they would have a midnight feast and went and made themselves toast and orange juice, as they had no access to sweets or chocolate (shock horror, poor little mites).
The next morning, after breakfast, group A went indoor climbing, whilst group B went up in the treetops.
Meghan who was in the climbing group discovered a new activity she enjoyed and excelled at, whilst her mum, Robyn overcame a fear of heights. Another that really enjoyed this was Janet who also found herself doing really well with both the climbing and abseiling. Amelia worked with Chelsey, James and another helper. Amelia turned into a proper monkey and had fun climbing the lower half of the wall, and generally giggling lots. The swing was out again, and we volunteered the second youngest group member aka Meghan to go first and raised her to the top. As our first guinea pig (I mean volunteer) it must be said she can really scream with appropriate motivation, even our oldest member had a go. Seeing as it was just before dinner, we decided that Meghan should have a last on the swing so we hoisted her up we left her in the centre of the gym (though we did return for her though).
Whilst, group A was indoors, group B, were behaving like monkeys and talking to the birds as they were hanging around in the treetops. The Calvert Trust has a brand new high wire course, as well as a small training course. Some of ur group were familiar with this activity as it was very similar to the Ariel Extreme courses we have tackled on other trips. After having completed the training course, they went on to complete the main set of obstacles up in the treetops.
All too soon it was once again lunchtime. The weekend was going far too quickly! Again we discussed what had been done and what challenges had been overcome.
On Sunday afternoon, the two groups joined together, to take part in the final activity which was bushcraft. We learned how to start a fire using a flint and steel, and then boiled water in the camping kettles using our fires, in order to make our hot chocolate.
We whittled suitable sticks in order that we could toast our marshmallows, although, in some instances (Daniel), the marshmallows were more than a little cremated we also made bread by wrapping dough around the stick to cook. Amelia enjoyed watching the corn popping over the fire. Meanwhile, Eliza had a go a climbing a tree, Ashton was very good at whittling sticks into a fine point, and continued making many more than were realy needed.
Laura found herself enjoying the weekend, as a parent not having to worry about her child being accepted for who he is, as it was his first time with the group as a whole, and she was able to relax as there was no stress. Well, that was until John decided to paint two black lines under her eyes with ash from the fires. After making our fires, and they’d gone out, the camping kettles had cooled down, we scraped the soot off the insides and drew on everyone’s faces, of those who didn’t mind. Black streaks were everywhere.
No one wanted to leave as we had all enjoyed ourselves so much. Friendships and bonds were made and strengthened, as well as support for those who needed it, and also the achievements of each individual and the group as a whole made the whole event a success. Once we had recovered, there was much talk about attending again, and this time going for a longer period. As a group, our aim of this trip was to inspire, empower and build confidence with all who attended, and this was definitely achieved.
Sunday afternoon Pictures