I'm writing this from a train speeding back to London from the Pembrokeshire coast of Wales. I spent the past weekend here and it was incredible.
We left London Friday in the afternoon and got to Wales around seven at night. While the train ride was long it was beautiful to watch the sheep, cows, and green fields roll by. I got off the train and took a deep breath; it was as if I had forgotten what fresh air tasted like. It was salty and just so fresh. It rivaled that of the air at the camp I work at in New Hampshire. It was a welcome change from the constant taste of second hand smoke in London. When we arrived, we settled into Preseli Ventures lodge and were fed macaroni and cheese as the guide told us what to expect and what we would need for our activities the next day. After we ate I played a round of Monopoly with some people (cool because the streets in the game are London ones that I know and am very familiar with now) and then I went to bed early.
We woke up the next morning early and had what was called a full Welsh breakfast which is very similar to a full English one. Then I got ready for my first activity, Coasteering. Coasteering was created in Wales and it's basically swimming, climbing, and jumping off the cliffs and coast. We got changed into full wet suits, life jackets, and helmets and loaded on to a bus. I'm pretty glad there are no pictures of me like this because you look kind of ridiculous with all the layers and such. We drove to a place called Abercastle and started walking along the coast on a path. Then we started to jump from small cliffs and swim around. The instructors encouraged us to swim like seals on our backs to avoid rocks. We moved onto some bigger jumps and I was surprised at how willing I was to jump from such heights - usually I get nervous and someone has to count down several times before I'll take the plunge. But it was just so beautiful to be up high and take in the sights even as you were plummeting down. We swam some more and got pushed into cool crevices by the waves, kind of like a natural roller coaster. We ended by swimming through a cave in one of the cliffs, which was really cool. It started to rain but it wasn't too bad considering we were already wet. After finishing we got warm, changed, and had some lunch at the lodge. Then we were bussed off to our next activity, hiking.
I love to hike so I was pretty excited about this particular activity. The hike was seven miles and the walk took you right along the top of the cliffs on the coast. The views were breath taking to say the least; it's where I took a majority of my pictures. The path took you right next to farms full of sheep and cows and vegetables. It was hard not to compare the cow fields to a Microsoft computer background. The hike was pretty easy and flat. We even found a rouge sheep that had escaped his fence, but he wasn't too interested in hanging out with us. It's hard to describe just how beautiful this area is. Imagine endless fields and endless green everywhere. This view is dotted with the white of sheep and the occasional quaint house. There are lots of birds that fly about and it's just quiet and relaxing. I'll admit we did get a little lost on the way back but I'm learning that it's not so bad to be lost while abroad, it makes it more fun. When we got back to the lodge we had dinner and a bonfire underneath the stars to end the night. Stars are my favorite thing and it was lovely to be in such an open area to see them, not like London at all.
The activity for the morning of our last day was sea kayaking. We suited up in some slightly less serious wet suits and got fitted to a kayak. After a short safety and basic skills lesson we were driven to Abercastle again. We got in our boats and start paddling towards the opposite of where we had been Coasteering. The water was pretty calm and I felt pretty confident considering my summers spent on lake Ossipee. Even so, it was definitely a little more difficult because the water is tougher and choppier. We glided along the coast and into some more caves. The best part of this activity was the seals. It's pupping season in Wales, meaning that the seals are having babies! We saw some adults and pups and they were so cute. Our instructor told us that they like it on this coast because it's not too busy or unsafe for them to raise their young. The babies we saw were white and fluffy and only a few weeks old. I wish this activity was longer but it was great to end on.
After eating lunch and packing up we headed back to the train station. Driving in Wales is incredibly strange. The cars are really small and the roads are very narrow with bushes and land on either side almost like a maze. The roads are so small that if you approach another car going the opposite way either you have to slow down and squeeze carefully past each other or one car has to reverse until there's a wider part. Very strange. There are very few houses around and I would bargain way more sheep than people. A lot of the houses were nestled into the hillsides; I would live there in a heartbeat.
Overall it was nice to get away from the bustle of London and breath some fresh air. If I could ever get back to Wales to do more hiking and cliff jumping I would love to. I know my adventurous siblings Adam and Allison would love it here too. Maybe I'll take them with me next time!