Departure Time: 16.30pm from Grassroots, Cardiff.
OMG, the panic when realising I was the only girl going on the trip as we had a few dropouts. Felt a little apprehensive, a long journey in a van full of boy talk! To my luck, most conversations were quite interesting and when they weren’t of interest to me I just dazed out of the window at the scenic Welsh landscapes. On a more positive note, being the only girl going at least I’d get my own bedroom and bathroom - winning.
Along the journey (in our posh car I must say thanks to Dan) we stopped off halfway and I grabbed my usual strawberries and cream, usually from Starbucks but this time from Costa. It wasn’t on the menu so I asked the barista if she could make me one and she seemed quite excited and said she doesn’t make many! I could see it was made with TLC and luckily tasted just as good if not better than Starbs.
As we set off on the second half of the journey I listened to people talk their brains away, some of which they shared was very interesting. I learnt about different ways of exercise and why everyone has different metabolisms. Apparently it’s in our DNA and goes way back to when we lived in different part of the planet and had to adapt to different climates. Don’t trust me on that fact but I feel like it would make sense lol. I also discovered that the reason somebody’s book smelt like curry was because he tipped his chickpea curry over it whilst eating 😳.
I’d started to doze off a little bit towards the end of the journey but then everyone’s excitement started to rise as we could see the sea over the Welsh valleys - no matter how old I get there’s always something magical about knowing your closer to your destination when you spot the sea, like on the way to the beach or something.
We stayed at a place called Celtic Camping, and I was surprised as I’d actually stayed there before at the ‘Blue Lagoon’ festival which is definitely worth checking out BTW. But anyway, check out Celtic Campings website, their slogan is no lie -
“Croeso cynnes” - A warm Welsh welcome. “Lle i bawb” - A place for everyone.
On arrival we were made to feel very comfortable, being taken to our rooms and advised that dinner would be served soon, yes! We all dropped our bags off in the room and had a quick chill before heading down to the canteen for food. We were again welcomed by the chefs who cooked up a mean Sunday roast, on a Tuesday - but who’s complaining? It was sooooooo good and just what we all needed after the journey up there. I felt like I was in primary school again having seconds and everything lol.
Oh wait, you thought it was just one course? Nope, we were treated to dessert too! I wasn’t sure what it was called or whether it was their own special concoction but it was made from bananas, toffee, pancakes and ice cream - my mouth is fully watering at the thought of it omg.
To walk off the bloat we all took a long walk down to this secret little beach - not knowing this would be the place we would start Coasteering with TYF the next morning! it must have been around 8:30pm and the sunset was gorgeous. You could see right down to the blue lagoon, the orange sun shining down warming our faces. It was a bumpy walk with the edge of the cliff no more than a foot to the right of us on the way down. A few of the boys were long gone and we could see them across the other side of the hills in no time. I took it easy as I was taking in the views and snapping some pics of pretty flowers along the way.
I sat back and took some pictures whilst watching the guys skim stones across the small seashore. I was amazed at the amount of times some of the stones bounced across the water some reaching a good 10. One of the boys said he should do it as a sport as he was so good then we found out there was an actual World Stone Skimming Championship, imagine😂. Jokes aside it was a very tranquil relaxing moment.
We took a slow walk back up to the Campsite and sat around a bench playing games and relaxing before our action-packed day to follow. This is why I LOVE getting away to the countryside and doing things which are out of the ordinary, we get a chance to be free from the disturbance of the busy city, no signal to browse through our phones and I think most importantly getting a break from a daily routine which may sometimes be draining. Many people struggle to find opportunities in life to get a break, so it’s great that Grassroots are there to support young people.
I left the team early and headed to bed, with all the excitement and nerves for the next day I couldn’t sleep for a short while. Eventually I fell asleep and woke up feeling fresh, I had such a comfy cosy sleep! A good thing as I knew Coasteering was about to wipe all of my energy… I was full of emotion that morning and was really on edge at the thought of jumping off the edge of the cliffs into the great big sea. However a quote I like to live by is -
“If it makes you scared and excited at the same time, you should probably do it”
And plus, I’d already travelled there and signed up to it so it was kinda too late to pull out.
The previous day, the chefs had told us that breakfast was anytime from 7:00am, so I set my alarm for 6:45am and surprisingly was up and ready for the day waiting for everyone in the canteen at 7:10am. I was confused being the first one there, as that’s never usually me. I took the time while I had it to go out and take some photographs and I ended up finding some fat pigs. The views surrounding me were just so peaceful and calming my mind felt so clear (aside from the nerves in my belly for what was so come).
7:30am arrived and I thought I may as well eat alone, I thought that everybody may have eaten already and gone off on a walk. So I ate my breakfast then headed out for a walk myself. Around 8:00am everybody started to arrive down for breakfast, they weren’t late I think I was just super early 😂 but it worked out well anyway. We were all set up for the day and advised that the Coasteering guys would be down to meet us at 9:00am to get our gear ready for us.
We met in this big barn which was full of helmets, wetsuits, paddle boards and the rest. We all got given a wetsuit and helmet to go and change into, at this point it felt real to me - OMG I AM ACTUALLY DOING THIS AM I MAD. I stayed calm and got changed but I was a woman of few words at this stage just trying to keep a calm head. Everyone was excited and joking about how funny we all looked in the wetsuits omg!!! Not a good look haa.
We took the same walk we’d taken the evening before and arrived at the seashore we were previously skimming stones at. Familiar territory, what wasn’t so familiar was having to just walk straight into the water and begin our little climbing adventure. It was freeeeeeeezing at first but the sun was shining and we soon warmed up using all our energy swimming further and further out along the coastlines. The shock of the cold water wears off pretty quickly as your body adapts, so then you’re just left with this wonderful peaceful feeling.
It actually took my breath away.
There’s something about being in such massive spaces that makes my imagination go wild and quiet at the same time. I guess it’s the realisation that we are just such small aspects of the universe we live in. Looking out at the sea made me feel so small whilst also making me feel so alive and pumping. I guess it feels like wow, this is what life about, this is our planet kinda thing and I’m really living in it, taking the most from it. That’s why doing these outdoor activities makes me feel so strong and powerful. You really get to know yourself by challenging yourself, especially in such high impact environments, you feel every feeling and notice every thought.
Distracted but with no distractions.
The leaders took us to this cave which we swam into, the water was much colder there without the sunlight shining on the water surface. You could go a lot further into it which a few of the boys did, the water got shallower but it was very dark so I stayed back as that would just all be TOO much for me. Darkness, caves, water, the possibility of some random sea animal touching me? No thanks!
We swam further along the coast and arrived at the first rock jump of many to come. It wasn’t very high but we had to start low in order to get the technique right. If we got the technique right then we could move onto higher jumps as the instructors would have trust in us. We all jumped in, adrenaline in full swing they were all ready for the rest. Apart from typical girly little me who was sickened by the taste of the sea salt up my nose and in my throat!!!!!
I’m not the best swimmer so was always treading along at the back, I’d sometimes grab onto somebody’s leg and get dragged along which was kind of them. You had to really work as a team because you can’t exactly just leave somebody behind, in the sea? Every now and again we would come across another big rock, then a bigger rock, then a massive one - only the brave would attempt these - which was everybody apart from me! I took on the role of carrying the bag and camera which suited me a lot more, I was happier this way as I was not ready for that salty taste taking over my head again.
Based off of the facial expressions and screams of joy (I hope) everybody was loving it. The landing area to one of the rock jumps would be where we’d encounter our first jelly fish, no way was I about to jump into jelly fish zone. Some of the team jumped straight in which made the jelly fish float off to one side making the space clear to jump. We learnt that there are many types of jelly fish in the sea, one of which can’t control where it moves - this was one of those jelly fish, hence why it just floated away after somebody had jumped.
Following the beautiful Welsh coastlines as they curve around the hills we had to climb up various rocks through some gaps in order to get by. I remember thinking omg is this part of the plan this is deadly? It really did have everybody switched on and in focus. One wrong move and SPLASH. After some climbing, we came to a large rock pool leading out to the sea which we had to jump into.
There was another jelly fish in our way!!! This time, a small one, pink and black in colour with long tentacles. I believe it was called a Lion’s Mane Jellyfish meaning it can sting very badly, this didn’t stop one crazy guy in our group from befriending this jelly fish, naming it Inky and even going as far as holding it in his hands. Although I wasn’t jealous of him I was deeply intrigued by how it must have felt and also where his confidence came from to touch such a thing. He put the jelly fish to the side and we all continued to complete our mission.
We took one of our last jumps into the sea before having a short distance to swim across to reach the next spot. I was tired by this point but thoroughly enjoyed bobbing about in the water and floating with the waves and the wind, I think the only time I went full force on the swimming was when someone would say there was a jelly fish near me and I’d be gone! I could see people had already arrived at the next cliff edge and were sunbathing up on the rocks, it looked so blissful.
As our venture in the eerie sea came to an end, I became confused when I saw no shore nor steps to get out, just a high mount and large boulderstone leading to the top. This we had to climb up in order to get out, wiped out and on our last legs we climbed up the boulders! When I pushed my body out of the water I felt extremely heavy it was nothing like the feeling of freedom and nothingness whilst in the water. Precarious with my feet I knew I had to get my act together or I’d be SPLAT. I was so surprised that we had to do this, by far one of the most challenging things I’ve done - I felt like we we’re on Bear Grylls - but the gratification we all felt at the end made it all worth it.
We took a walk back to the campsite exhausted but on a positive high. Also,knowing we had food waiting for us was driving our energy. For a minute I thought I’d rather be floating back in the sea than walking, it was kinda scary walking along the cliff egde with a massive drop to the left of us. Looking down at the sea you noticed how MASSIVE some of the jelly fish we’re, the friends we we’re just swimming with looked alien from above. Little splashes of pink bouncing with the movement of the waves.
Drained but feeling proud we ate our lunch and reflected on the challenge we’d just acomplished. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and everybody was feeling good - I was not looking forward to going back to busy city life, but thankfully we were in no rush so took in the peaceful atmosphere for a couple of hours. What was nice was nobody had phone signal so we had no choice but to chill and chat. A group of school children arrived at the campsite who were all freaking out over no phone signal, itsn’t it funny the way we prioritise our phones as if they’re a lifeline. We often forget the real world around us.
We packed our bags and headed back to Cardiff - this time, a quiet van full of sleepy people day dreaming and dozing off to the gorgeous views along the way.
As always, this experience left us feeling proud and fullfilled. Especially for us city goers, getitng out into different environments free’s our mind into a world of imagination. I believe setting challenges and acomplishing them makes us stronger and gives us better ability to tackle obstacles in our day to day lives, it forces you to connect with yourself. Now, we may not all have the chance to do something as extreme as Coasteering but sometimes it get’s too much being stuck in the same four walls, so even if you just try and get out for a walk in the park no phone or distractions that will give you a similar sense of freedom and connection to yourself.