By Cadet Harby
(posted a little late-sorry-webmaster)
On the 19th September I joined a coach-load of cadets, ready for a week of adventure and excitement. The bus journey took a while, but as soon as we arrived and moved our bags into our dorms, everyone began to talk and make friends. The atmosphere was completely different to Swynnerton, as there were only 23 people on this camp so we all got to know each other.
The camp was at the Adventure Training (AT) centre for the ATC and was near the centre of Windermere in the Lake District. The ground floor houses a drying room, briefing room, kitchen, a massive and impressively organised stores and the boys dorm which was reasonably small and had around 15 bunk beds in it. On the second floor there was the girls dorm.
Once we had all settled in we met in the briefing room and were introduced to the staff and split into our flights. Unlike other camps, your flight weren't the only people you saw and did activities with, as the only time I was with my flight was during the taster sessions and when it was our turn to do duties around the kitchen.
On day one, we were put into random groups and went out on an 'Adventure Walk'. This was basically a walk around Lake Windermere to try and familiarise ourselves with the area and give us an opportunity to see the landscape that inspired William Wordsworth. On the walk we did a few 'icebreakers' and a number of small activities such as scrambling, which is climbing over rough terrain small enough for you not to need ropes. We also visited Windermere cave which was quarried out of the side of a hill.
The next day was the first of our taster sessions which we did in our flights. These were half day sessions of kayaking, mountain biking, climbing and hill walking which we could choose to do for a whole day later on in the week. First for me was kayaking and mountain-biking. I hadn't done kayaking for a long time so at first I was a bit unstable but I soon got into it. We spent half a day paddling around on Lake Windermere and then headed back to the centre to go mountain biking. We were issued some glasses,a helmet and a bike and then we headed out, riding in a two by two formation, heading for the hills. The ride felt like it was entirely uphill, but on the few opportunities we got to go down hill we went at what felt like incredible speed. We eventually got onto dirt tracks which were covered in huge puddles, so every so often there was a downhill with a huge puddle at the bottom of it, which were the highlight of mountain biking for me.
We spent the next morning, hill walking in the peaks around Ambleside and Windermere before heading to the Ambleside climbing wall for the afternoon. All of the taster sessions were great fun and helped me to become really good friends with the people in my flight.
On Wednesday we headed to an out of the way place called Honiston to do Via Ferrata. Via Ferrata in Italian means 'iron walkway' and describes the activity quite well. It involves climbing along the side of a mountain using big iron staples and down angled ladders which are all quite high up. It was good fun and no one dropped out despite several people being afraid of heights. That took us up to lunch so afterwards we had a tour of a working slate mine. It was great to see how the mine functions now and throughout history. The slate they mine is three times harder than any other slate in the world and can last up to 400 years. It's even on the roof of RAF Cranwell.
Thursday was our options day and I decided to do a kayak river trip. The trip involved a bit of white water rafting and was a great way to see the Lake District. We learnt how to 'ferry' across a river, turn into and out of an eddy and how to stay afloat in white water.
Friday was a day of ghyll scrambling which is where you climb up a river, over waterfalls, jump into plunge pools, and try as much as possible not to be swept away by the current. In my opinion, the river trip and ghyll scrambling were the best activities of the week.
Throughout the week the food was a tastier than any other wing camp I've been on before, the staff were some of the nicest people I've met and the cadets there were some of the best people I know. To conclude the thing i most enjoyed during my week in Windermere was the company as the camp was full of great people and that, despite me not knowing anyone on the coach journey there, I was knew everyone on the way back.