Year eight spent the week tackling a variety of outdoor challenges, staying in a cottage by the picturesque Lake Vyrnwy – paradise, except for the midges!

First we had to help a sheep, named Bernard escape back into the fields which surrounded our cottage. That evening we then had a very competitive, yet messy pancake challenge. The salt exploded and the sugar packed burst open the kitchen! A variety of pancakes were served; some too salty, some to sweet and some perfect. Issy was the winner of the pancake challenge with her delicious American pancakes smothered with maple syrup. With NO WIFI OR TV, cards were played throughout the 5 days for entertainment.

Tuesday stared off very cold, but we soon warmed up taking a stroll down to the lake. We rowed our way across to a bay on our canoes. With 2 groups capsizing from getting out of the canoe which must have been a freezing shock, others decided to try it out by jumping off the dock into the lake at the end, shivering all the way back up the hill to our cottage. Mr Carter gave the group a mystery challenge in the evening: sing and act out a whole Disney movie in only 5 minutes. Sadly one performance was cut short by the Great Midge Attack of 2017 and the rest of the night was spent working out how best to destroy them!

On Wednesday, we went rock climbing and abseiling in the valleys above Lake Vyrnwy on the slippery surface next to a wonderful waterfall. This was followed by the first of Mr Carter’s mystery tours (a mystery even to him, as it turned out!) which involved climbing over fallen trees and following what seemed to be a rabbit path to get back to known trails! The views were spectacular and more than made up for the mishaps.

Thursday morning started out with the second of Mr Carter’s mystery tours: 7 hardy adventurers bravely following the leader to visit the remains of aHospitium marked on the map (frequently mistaken for a small pile of rocks), to spot a couple of dead sheep, to rescue another sheep which had got stuck in a fence and, all in all, to walk far further than planned; we covered around 11km altogether!

This was a very tiring way to prepare for the Vyrnwy Challenge that afternoon: canoeing our way to the dam, running down paths to a bay underneath the dam where we had to build a raft. This part took us over an hour and was what can only be described as a mixed success! Some made it across, others fell in the water and others stayed firmly on the wrong side of the river. As if this wasn’t enough there was another short challenge before we had to work out how to re-cross the river by building a bridge using only a few ropes, pulleys and a box (which turned out to be just big enough to float Tara across the water!). All this stuff, with Tara’s help, turned into a makeshift zip wire for the others to get across dry (or… not!). After canoeing back to the finish for a total time of close to 4 hours we headed back up to the bunkhouse to get clean and dry. Our evening activity was a fire lighting challenge using flint and steel and anything we could find in the woods.

After packing up and an awards ceremony, we headed back to our warm homes and the internet on Friday morning. Looking at memes never felt so good!

By Katie Richards and Mr Carter