Our most popular events by far in the school academic year are our four residentials; one for each year group in KS2. Here you can read about our most recent adventure when Year 5 went to Aberdovey

A crowd of extremely excited Year 5 children climbed on board the waiting coach in front of Hill West Primary School, just after 9a.m. on Monday 9th December. As seatbelts were buckled and checked, the children waved good-bye to their loved ones and we set off on our journey to Aberdovey, located on the Welsh west coast, north of Aberystwyth. On-board were 59 extremely ex-cited children from Hares, Badgers and Otters with 5 adults: Dr Warrack, Mrs Evans, Mrs Anderson, Miss Davies and Mrs Mahmood. As school faded into the distance behind us, our attention turned towards the adventures which might await us…

Would we go jetty-jumping, rock-climbing, canoeing, walking or swimming? No-one was sure, but the excited chatter of children filled the coach as we headed onwards to our destination.

Three hours after leaving school, we were travelling through the Welsh hills. Eventually the road began to wind alongside the river. As we turned around a bend, we were able to glimpse the widening mouth of the river as it approached Cardigan Bay and joined the sea, which meant we were nearing our destination. After around four hours, the coach turned right off the main road and drove up a steep, curved drive to the Aberdovey Out-ward Bound Trust Centre. The coach driver showed great skill as he parked the coach in the small car park and we worked together to unload the coach. As we looked behind us, the view from the dining hall overlooking Aberdovey was simply spectacular.

First port of call was the hall so that we could all eat lunch. Once they had eaten, the children were introduced to their groups (Shackleton, Muir, Hilary, Scott and Fiennes) before their team leaders took them off to show them their common rooms and give them a tour of the centre. They then went to their accommodation blocks and were shown the rooms in which they would sleep for the next four nights. Once there, they were given the chance to choose their own beds, and then shown how to make them—using the sheets and bedding provided.After settling in, the children met up again in their teams. Over the next five days the children would get to know the people in their teams exceptionally well and they were eager to start their first challenge or activity. Zoe was head of Team Muir, Roz of Team Hilary, Tom of Fiennes, Kelsey of Scott and Ali for Team Shackle-ton. After settling into their rooms, the children embarked on a range of introductory activities, including team building games and orienteering activities to help them find their way around camp. They also discussed what the children would like to achieve over the week and how they could work together to achieve their goals.

By five o’clock, everyone was ready for some food, so we paid our first visit to the canteen area. Frankly, the food was fantastic and there were even second helpings.

After some time to unpack and get some warm clothes the children took part in evening activities, which included setting team rules, exploring the centre in the dark, climbing a gorge in the dark, star-gazing or playing team games. Everyone met up at 8:00 in the Activity Hall to enjoy a well-deserved cup of hot chocolate and a snack and some social time as a whole group, before making their way to their rooms to get ready for bed. By 11:30 all was quiet and everyone was fast asleep after an exhilarating first day in Aberdovey.

The activities on the first full day included exploring the forest where they children had the opportunity to make shelters and learn about the forest environment.  Other groups got to complete a mountain hike.  This was a real challenge as the children had to navigate past a quarry.  After a delicious tea, the children had some spare time before meeting up with their teams to take part in more activities before hot chocolate and bed. Some groups were preparing kit for the next day’s adventure, some groups took part in team activities, team building and reviewing the day’s events – thinking about what went well, and what they could do individually and as a team to improve their team-work, whilst Fiennes went on a gorge walk in the dark up the river, using head torches. The children emerged from the gorge a little wet and muddy, to see the stars above.

As morning broke on day three, the children could be found enjoying another delicious break-fast, enthusiastically chattering about the adventures of the day ahead. Team Finnes and Team Muir caught the local train to Barmouth where they climbed almost to the top of Cader Idris before putting on their helmets and harnesses and scrambling to the very top.  But their adventures didn’t end there.  Next the children had to abseil down the rock face. Other teams took to jumping off the jetty into the freezing cold sea.    At the end of the evening, 59 extremely happy, content and tired children made their way back to their beds to get some well-earned sleep for the next day’s adventures.On the final full day, Team Shackleton headed to the trapese where the children had to climb what looked like a telegraph pole and jump off to reach the hanging trapese.  Team Finnes and Team Muir, following their beach explore completed a long hike around Aberdovey.   Team Hilary headed to Barmouth for a rock ramble where the clouds lifted at just the right moment so that children could see the vista.  While Team Scott completed a 4km hike through the forest.  The children were determined to take every miniscule drop of excitement, adventure and learning from the day’s activities, as they had realised – with great sadness – that this would be their last full day in Aberdovey! What a blast they all had!!!  And I haven’t even mentioned marshmallows by the fire on the beach!

After enjoying a final delicious dinner, the children gathered together to celebrate everything they had achieved during their time at Aberdovey, sharing their successes and lessons they had learnt about themselves, their friends and about working as part of a team. What a simply amazing last evening at Aberdovey!

On the final morning the children, after breakfast, completed their final activities (jetty jump, jog and dip, canoe slide) before drying off, packing their cases and having the last lunch together.  Then a coach full of 59 very tired young people along with 5 exhaused members of staff returned on the long journey back to school where their loved ones were waiting eagerly to congratulate them on an amazing accomplishment. We are so proud of you all, children and staff, for each and every accomplishment, whether that be staying away from home for the first time, beating the harsh weather conditions or completing an activity you never thought was possible.