Adventure: Gorge walking with Parkwood Outdoors, Dolygaer

After a late night with my weakness – cheese and crackers (and Jenni’s home made marrow chutney – delish btw), a fire (which took some time to get going due to rain), we woke up to an even wetter morning but a good hearty breakfast by Damian, a local who’s worked at Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer  since March.

We had a few new blogger additions to the group including 9 year old Eva (with her blogger mummy) who totally put the adults to shame with her daring and go getting quest for adventure!

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Eve & Ali from We made this life.
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Laura (left) from LT Factor and Alex and Harriet from An Outdoor Lifestyle Blog

It was a good job it was wet today because it was the wet activities. Getting in to a wet suit is like forcing tooth paste back in to the tube when you’ve got too much on your brush. Getting out of a wet suit is like the frustrating process of squeezing the last of the toothpaste back out of the tube. From all of the water sports I’ve tried, the wet suit is my least favourite part but when you’re in ice cold welsh waters, you’re grateful of that second skin!

Although putting one on inside out (we’ve all done it right?) is an achievement in itself!

Gorge Walking at Dinas Rock

Now water and I have a love / phobic relationship. Last year, I decided to combat the phobia by throwing myself into deep water (quite literally). From surfing, kayaking and gorge walking etc.

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It worked! I feel around a 4/5 rather than a scared stiff 10. Gorge walking in Betws- y- Coed last summer was where it started and I began to love non swimming pool water… It eased me gently in to because most of the water was no higher than my waist and the plunge pools were pretty still.

However gorge walking at Dinas Rock was somewhat more challenging in fact due to heavy rain, the river levels were higher and it was fast flowing white water. Yet since I’d practically fallen off rock yesterday (queue dramatics) I was literally over being scared (for most parts).

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White water was the first challenged we faced. And when Rik announced he may have to get out (due to an ingrowing toe nail with a dislike to freezing water), I nodded in sympathy but from a selfish point of view, I mentally pleaded him to stay!

He’s my little mascot – my cheer leader – the one that makes me feel OK about things I’m really not OK about.

Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer
Here’s the poster boy himself…. 😉

He must have heard my mental pleading and decided to stay with me every step of the way.

I don’t  have to do much talking about our gorge walking because the pictures speak from themselves (thanks Tony).

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Mike, Owen and Tony ‘The Australian one’ like pros guided us up the gorge. There was a variety of challenges from narrow ledges to crawl under, slippery rocks to hold on to whilst white water rushed past, high ledges to pull yourself on to  and fast flowing waterfalls to avoid due to high water pressures.

Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer

There were a few moments I may or may not have got stuck… This is how this should have looked as demonstrated by the lovely Cerys from  Mascara and Mud.

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Here’s my tempt in three stages…

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What you can’t see above is Tony holding my buoyancy jacket…

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Peekaboo!

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Totally ignored what I was told and ended up like this….

The instructors were constantly assessing which parts were safe and the ones that weren’t, we got out and walked around.

That’s what I love about having instructors around when you’re not used to doing certain outdoor activities. People assume that because you love doing what’s considered crazy to some, you’ll do it anyway and ignore the risk factor. Don’t get me wrong – there’s always risk involved in everything but instructors are there to minimise and calculate it.

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And you can learn a lot from them!

Gorge walking is physically exhausting.  My legs are black and blue from banging  myself on the rocks (as you’d expect) but I just loved the adrenaline rush during.

The end involved a dramatic jump ( I chose to go last but not on Mike’s count of 3 more like my count of 30) into a fast flowing plunge pool – it’s cold and dark down there and you can’t help but take a little of the water in. The sounds of rushing water temporarily disappear until your  buoyancy aid springs you back into the warm (ish) air and you swim with the current until it brings you near to a rock to clamber on and to  find your footing and then back up on to dry land!

Big smiles all around and one steamy camera.

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I tell you what,  after doing things like this, I feel like I can conquer the world! The outdoors is a necessity for your soul.

Have a look at Laura’s ‘mega’ vlog from the weekend.

My final post about the weekend will be up tomorrow and I’ll show you what I actually look like stand up paddle boarding (instead of face planting the water – albeit moments of that…)

Until then!

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