I often refer to myself as athletically challenged. Both of my brothers are athletes, and I think they sucked all of the athleticism up. Nevertheless, my flatmate convinced me to sign up to go to Preseli Venture Lodge for a weekend that included coasteering, kayaking, and hiking.
In typical Samantha fashion, I first need to mention the food. The activities, lodging, and food were all included in one price, so you’d think the food would be so-so. Wrong! Seriously, this has been some of the best food I’ve had here. Everything was homemade, and it was pure comfort food. PLUS they permanently had tea and coffee available (with biscuits, aka cookies), and the coffee was actually brewed!
Okay, so obviously I didn’t go for the food, but for adventuring! We arrived on a Friday evening, but our scheduled activities didn’t start until Saturday. So, the first adventure was us finding our way to the beach. Along the path, we found a swing attached to a tree on top of a hill, so we got a free little thrill ride with that. It was an added thrill because the hill was muddy, so stopping was a struggle. It was quite a performance to watch me get off that thing, and that experience alone made me a little nervous for the actual events to come.
Then we made it to the beach, and it was breathtaking. We spent some time frolicking, sitting on rocks, and chatting with some surfers who were camping out in tents.
On Saturday the real adventures began! Our morning activity was coasteering. Honestly, trying to put on the wetsuit and all of the other gear was nearly as difficult as the coasteering itself. It was so hard to get the wetsuit up, and when I finally did, I was told it was inside out. I left it. We also wore wetsuit socks, extra wetsuit shorts over the other one, a life jacket, helmet, and tennis shoes! All of this was referred to as our kit.
After a short bus ride, we were at the shore of the Irish Sea, and it was time to begin. I saw lots of cliffs, and I was ready to climb when all of a sudden I realized we were swimming there! I knew we’d be jumping into the water, but I thought we would otherwise be on land. It wasn’t too cold because we were so covered, but our hands weren’t. I found the best way to avoid cold hands was to hold them up, float on my back, and just kick. This was probably not the most efficient mode of travel, but it was the warmest. We would swim for a bit, find our way to some rocks, climb them, and then jump off! It was indescribably freeing, but also slightly scary. We had to jump like a pencil, rather than dive, but they told us that on our way down we could flail about or do a dance. I decided to not risk forgetting to go back to the pencil formation, so I skipped the flailing for once.
That afternoon we went kayaking. We had to put on a second wetsuit, but this time I was a pro and put it on the correct way. I must admit, I did not enjoy this as much. It was really difficult to make the kayak go straight, and just as I was starting to get the hang of it I started to get a blister on my hand from the oar. At that point, I just kind of wanted to float in my kayak. Honestly, I think coasteering was just too so great that nothing could compare.
Saturday ended with us hanging out at the lodge, enjoying the campfire, and making friends with two separate bachelor parties. It was an amazing weekend and, besides my blister, I survived!
How this weekend changed my life:
Apparently now I think I’m untouchable. Yesterday was the last day of the study away program, so my school friends and I decided to spend our final afternoon biking and enjoying Hyde Park. We discovered it would be a 30 minute walk to the park, which we didn’t want to do, but we also wanted to enjoy the beautiful weather. For cycling, you can only bike around the park and not through it, which is an activity we’ve already done. So, I had the bright idea of biking to the park and then finishing the ride there to walk around. (They have this great thing where you can rent a bike at one location and turn it in at another – only 2 pounds for 30 minutes!)
Everyone was on board with this idea, but clearly it wasn’t very well thought-out. None of us knew how to get there on our own, so I led the way whilst looking at the direction app on my phone. Did I mention we were riding on Oxford St, which is one of the busiest streets in London? Yes, not our smartest move. The bike lane shares a lane with buses, so that was a little terrifying.
Two of my friends were really hating life, but I found myself chuckling. Yes, it was scary and I won’t do that again, but it was fun because we did it! If we had gotten hurt, this story would be a lot different…. we took the tube back.