A Weekend in Wales

As part of the FIE program we were also given the opportunity to go to Wales!   Wales is still part of the UK but several hours outside of London.  We traveled on two trains to get there, the second one offering a more scenic view of the beautiful cascading hills of the countryside farmlands.  We were quite cut off from the city of where we were getting acquainted with at the Eco Lodge with Preseli Venture.  

            We arrived in the evening to our outdoor weekend destination to a fantastic dinner of vegetable lasagna and apple pie a la mode.  The evening was set for settling in and relaxation in preparation for the rest of the weekend.  Saturday morning greeted us at 8am with breakfast and then a hike!  My Drexel group stayed with a few other groups from Florida and California Schools that also study at FIE so we were a bit divided among the groups but I still had half of my familiar Drexel faces.  Our 4.5 miles hike started off with a drive about 15 minutes down the road, which by the way were single lane but both directions (we were all so amused by this).  We were dropped off with some words of guidance and a map.  Luckily, the path was quite self-explanatory so no M.I.A. students.  When I typically think of a hike, I envision the typical forest of tall trees and a few wild animals.  However, I was gladly mistaken to a phenomenal view of the ocean and hillside the Wales coast. 

The coastline and beautiful blue water
The water was beautiful blue and the hills created their own blocks of colors from the different vegetation and pastures.  The most prominent pasture was of the sheep.  With an area that seemed to be endless, there must have been hundreds of sheep grazing.  Approaching a narrow bend and ledge, we encountered a sheep straggler which we eventually had to pass.  The question as to how to do this became an issue.  As we slowly approached, he became scarred and ran to the edge of a cliff so he pretty much needed to be talked off from the plunge of the ledge and he then raced past us in scattered direction without a clear way to get back into the pasture with his fellow sheep friends.  Our hike ended with a pebbly beach to rest at and enjoy the view.

 

If you look closely, you can see the sheep approaching the edge

After lunch, the next activity was “coasteering”.  Basically, it’s a combination of climbing, swimming and cliff diving.  We first had to suit up in layers upon layers of protective gear then headed off!  To my surprise yet again, out instructors took us for a lot of rock climbing.  The tiny white barnacles on the rocks’ surfaces allowed for great foot traction but painful hand contact.  I found myself scaling the sides of cliff walls and rock formations with only the fear of falling keeping me on track (as well as my group).   Gradually, we were given the option to jump off different heights of cliffs until we reached the final tallest one of our adventure.  About half the group declined and I braved it two times, (I didn’t climb up all of those rocks for nothing after all!)  The hardest part is overcoming that you wont hit the rocks against the wall on the bottom.  While the other jumps seemed quite brief, this last one felt like I was falling for sometime until my body cut deep into the water below. 
After debriefing for the remainder of the evening, our last day’s activity was sea kayaking.  Previously, I had only canoed and usually found that at some point I would be tipped out.  Despite the ruff currents of the ocean, I managed to stay afloat at sea.  Kayaks actually absorb the shock of the changing waves as long as you manage to stay in the correct positioning for your body.  After getting use to some of the steering and paddling techniques, I completely enjoyed our trip along the coast.  Sometimes I just had to stop paddling and just gaze at the scenery.
The pebbly beach! A sign that our hike was in the right direction.
The trip really allowed me to explore the coast from above on our hike, amongst the cliffs and rocks coasteering, and then in the water, sea kayaking.  Wales was a beautiful adventure weekend that definitely explored a side of me that I’m not usually in tune with.  A weekend was just the right amount of such physical adventure for me for a while!  

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