Fun and adventure in the Peak District
The annual CCSS trip to the Peak District took place from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 September. Nineteen students, all new to the college, plus Andrew Veale, Kim Smalley, Franziska Tinnefeld, set off after lunch from St Barnabas by coach to the Castleton Youth Hostel. On arrival we dropped off our luggage in the dormitories and headed straight for dinner: that great British favourite, chicken tikka masala or a baked potato followed by apple pie, ice cream or fruit salad.
Our first activity for the weekend was the night walk. Getting warmly wrapped up, we set off up Lose Hill behind the Youth Hostel as darkness fell. It was a clear sky with thousands of stars. We watched the moon rise in the black night, first of all glimmers of orange in the east and then a large, round ball. We scared sleepy sheep as we walked through their pasture, took selfies and photos of amazing mushrooms, appreciating the fresh air and untouched nature. Back at the youth hostel after our two hour walk (it didn’t seem that long), it was straight to sleep as everyone was weary.
Saturday morning began with a full English breakfast or choice from the buffet. We were introduced to the instructors from the Edale YHA who would be guiding us through more activities. Taking two minibuses we headed off for Higgor Tor to try out weaselling. Geared up with safety helmets and special jackets, we squeezed through the rocks on the hillside. Some students made the seemingly impossible a real possibility, squeezing through the tiniest gaps. No one got stuck. Though it was windy, there was beautiful sunshine and amazing views.
Back at the youth hostel we ate our packed lunches and then got dressed for our raft building adventure (old trainers and swimsuits). Into the minibus again for the 30-minute drive to the reservoir where our two teams were given material to build their rafts. There was a competition to see which team would finish and get the raft into the water first.
After wild discussions about all the different ideas, we eventually ended up with two rafts which managed to float and carry us all. After the first shock of wet feet as we descended into the reservoir with our rafts, we started to adapt to the cold water, raced our rafts around the instructors’ canoe and the activity ended with the majority of the group swimming about in their flotation aids in the lake.
Probably most regretted jumping into the water once it was time to drive back to the hostel. Dripping wet in the bus with freezing cold feet, we were all looking forward to a hot shower which the majority also managed to get. The unlucky few of us who jumped in the shower last, could sadly only enjoy another cold water attack!
Once cleaned up, dinner was waiting: burgers and treacle tart. Remembering which meal you had ordered earlier in the week was difficult for some, but Andrew had clearly not forgotten that one of the three pieces of treacle tart was definitely his! But which student was tucking into it for him?
Cosy and warm inside, tummies full, some enjoyed the rest of the evening playing card games. Others had an unexpectedly short stroll through Castleton (a very, very small village). And if we hadn’t put our bodies through enough contortions during the day, we ended up playing Twister.
Sunday morning, another full English breakfast or choice from the buffet. We met our instructors again and took the minibuses to a disused railway bridge along a forest trail for our abseiling experience. Everyone without exception abseiled off the 20m high bridge. Some students, at first scared of heights, pushed themselves and overcame their fear by abseiling with a partner and then having enjoyed it so much, on the second go they went down all by themselves, hanging on the rope with the trees towering over them.
After a packed lunch it was time to say goodbye and depart from our lovely, clean, comfortable and welcoming hostel. The journey back was quiet with most of us exhausted, sleeping, whilst the traffic threatened to make us late for dinner.
These three wonderful days strengthened friendships, build trust in others, taught us to believe in ourselves a little more and brought all of us a little closer together.
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