angelhands and I arrived at the centre in Llanberis a little after 4pm on the Friday evening. After a lightening tour of the centre given to us by Jim and Becky we sat in the grounds smoking fags and drinking tea with Becky's sister Sarah and brother Ricky. We were soon joined by Becky's dad, Steve (an ex-marine) and his partner Racheal then the evening was spent in the bar of the Heights hotel when angelhands' sister Dobs arrived
Saturday mornings 8 o'clock start (breakfast of cereal and sausage sandwiches) was followed by getting kitted out with equipment. Packed lunch, size 9 walking boots, XL Wet suit, hard hat, fleece, kagool and harness. Then a long drive to a place just outside Tal-y-Bont near Helen's Farm.
The minibus was parked and we started our ascent. First it was a couple of minutes of gentle rock jumping then some scrambling along the edge of a large rock before the real hard work started. All the while the constant rush of water and the spray from the waterfalls made everything damp. Because our group consisted of 9 people the going was gradual. A lot of the climbs involved waiting until the person in front had got to the next stage but before we were just over a 3rd of the way up angelhands and her sister decided they could go no further. Dobs had a nasty little slip that kind of knocked the confidence out of her. So Dobs and angelhands went with Dave, the instructor, back to the road and up a service road to the top of the gorge to await our return. The rest of the climb became more and more arduous. Maybe it was because we are all unfit or more likely because it was bloody hard going. Still I managed to get up all the crags like a mountain goat and apart from one hairy moment didn't get too worn out.
About two thirds of the way up the gorge I was scrambling to climb onto a boulder when standing up, I lost my footing and could not grip on to anything. I then did an Olympic standard free-fall back flip with a double head-against-rock twat as I fell 10ft back down the gorge dragging Sam, the other instructor, with me part of the way. Dazed but not arsed I sat up in a pool, washed my face nursed my bruised back and head and carried on to the top, a little less cocky than I had been, partly because I was now approaching the end of my endurance limit.
The final stretch involved being roped on to one of the instructors and pulled up a steep and slippy edge. When I got to the top I said disappointedly "Is that it?" which was read as "I've had enough now" even though I meant "That was a piece of piss gimme summat harder". Then as the rest of the group jumped into a deep pool and I caught my breath I watched as angelhands jumped into the pool from a height of about 7ft.
The descent was nearly just as arduous as the ascent but was on the path that angelhands and Dobs had climbed up to meet us. I swear that the road was 170° in inclination in parts though it probably wasn't. We then arrived back at the minibus where we detogged and dried off before heading back to Llanberis. After an evening meal of the most delicious lasagne and apple crumble and custard I have ever had I sneaked into the common room to watch Doctor Who before piking out and climbing into bed at 8:30pm (the rest went to the pub).
When I awoke the next morning I ached all over. Every limb and muscle hurt like a bastard. The bruise on my back was the size of an orange and my legs felt like I had been wearing lead trousers. I felt dreadful. Even after breakfast, standing up and sitting down was a chore so I made a decision to see how I felt when we got to the quarry before committing to abseiling.
After getting kitted out again (this time just helmet and harness) and a brief walk up past Coed Doctor into a disused quarry we arrived at the abseiling point. The cliff face was at least 100ft high. There was no way I was going to do that the way I felt. angelhands also chickened out, heights not being her thing. Rachael didn't fancy it either. However of those that did Ricky went first, followed by Becky (who slipped twice and had our hearts in our gobs), Sarah, Steve (Becky's dad) decided that it wasn't his thing and came back down, Dobs (who piked out on the Saturday but did a bloody good job of climbing down the whole 100ft), Jim piked out and Becky and Sarah went again. When the abseil had finished we all looked like we'd been walking non-stop for a week so we returned to the centre, had lunch and then made our way home.
angelhands and I took a detour and poppled over to Anglesey to see our niece Charlotte who was a little demanding monster (a true product of her parents and will most likely have some serious issues when she gets older) before heading home to Liverpool and a nice relaxing bath and bed.
Monday was spent aching and this morning, although I don't feel anywhere near as bad as I did on Sunday, I feel like my joints have been lined with wood. Maybe this is a sign of how unfit I am or maybe its a sign of how bloody enjoyable the gorge walk was. I'd do it again! Definitely!! Lend us £100 indefinitely and we'll go again this weekend....(after the aching has stopped of course)