A National Reserve unit, lead by SSgt (Nick) Biggs and comprising of all four Branches of the AGC: Army Legal Services (ALS), Educational Training Services (ETS), Staff and Personnel Support Services (SPS) and Royal Military Police (RMP) visited Newquay on Exercise.
The aim was to develop leadership, through participation in challenging outdoor pursuits, and other qualities necessary to enhance the performance of military personnel to improve individual and combined combat effectiveness.
HILL WALKING – At 0930 on Monday 6th August, 11 members of CRHQ began their AT adventure with a two day 30 mile coastal walk along the beautiful Cornish coastline. We were dropped off just North of Hayle at Gwythian where we began following the very hilly coastal path which would take us back to Newquay. Our first stop on the route was at the Hell’s Mouth Cafe followed by a stop for lunch in the lovely village of Portreath. We were not only lucky with glorious sunshine throughout the walk but were also able to get close to some of the local wildlife when a rare Adder (snake) slithered across our path, a rather startling experience for some of the group! After lunch we continued to the beach at Porthtowan before finally reaching our final stop for the day at Travellas Manor Farm campsite. After a very long day of 14 miles of walking very hilly terrain, we were all rather happy to find that our tents had already been erected for us and the beginnings of a BBQ had been assembled! The facilities at the campsite were excellent, with ample clean warm showers and toilets, plate washing facilities and a coffee and croissant delivery van that arrives in the morning for you to purchase breakfast.
On day two we packed away all our camping gear and after coffee and croissants were consumed we continued our walking route from the campsite to Perraporth for our first stop and on to Holywell for lunch. For the final portion of our journey we traversed some large sand dunes and continued along the coastal path before reaching a beach and a footbridge to cross the river which stood between us and Newquay. The footbridge was nowhere to be seen and the only clue we had was that children playing in the river seemed to be able to wade across a channel which appeared to be more shallow. After some discussion with the locals it transpired that the footbridge on the map is only passable by foot at low tide unless you want to swim across! Having left our swimwear at RAF St Mawgawn it was decided to continue further round on the coastal path to Fern Pitt where we were able to get a ferry across the river and continue our walk to New Quay where we were collected by mini bus. The two day walk and camp was great fun and despite some blisters and tired legs was enjoyed by all.
SURFING – As we pulled on slightly wet wetsuits, we all hoped the effort would be worthwhile and that we would be quickly transformed into Bondi beach surfers. Facilities and instruction from the Newquay Water Sports Centre were excellent, so now it was just down to our own ability! After practising the ‘pop’ from the kneeling to the standing position on the boards whilst on the beach, we then had about two hours to practise our technique on the water. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day with the sun shining and the waves of a good height. And so it was that two members of our team, Chris and Dave, discovered their hidden Baywatch ability, and surfed the waves as if they had been doing it for several years. For others, it was mild frustration that the ‘pop’ which had seemed so easy on land (and for the thousands of surfers that were on the Cornwall beaches), was actually turning out to be extremely tricky. But we all continued and I am sure for some of the group, this introduction to surfing, has meant that they have discovered a sport, that they would like to do again. For others, it was simply fabulous fun to try an activity, and discover if they were a natural or not, and if not, gain an admiration for those that make it look effortless
COASTEERING – The session was a half day event and for our group was the afternoon activity that followed a morning of instructor led surfing with the Newquay Water Sports Centre.
All of the equipment for the session is provided and comes in all of the required sizes for adult groups. The equipment included; Full length wetsuits (winter – for warmth), helmets, buoyancy aids, water trainers (to protect your feet on the rock surfaces).
A quick session brief/safety talk takes place at the activity centre and a disclaimer is signed before the event. There are toilets available within 100meters of the activity centre, simple outdoor showers were available and a small set of changing rooms are available on site. Ample car parking is available with a £4 ‘all day’ charge.
Two instructors accompany the session and supervise//demonstrate all of the activities.
Our group of 10 mixed ability/sexes/ages were taken to the first set of challenges, which involved a short rock jump into the sea to ensure that individuals were safe and confident in the open water. Full demonstrations occur before each challenge.
Individuals who are not confident swimmers or who may be afraid of heights should reconsider this activity, as there is a moderate level of skill and confidence required (especially if the sea conditions were rough).
The group of 10 taking part, all successfully undertook all of the challenges, which included; A number of progressive jumps from rock platforms into the sea, a number of short cave swims (looking inside the cave entrance), a small amount of rock traversing (moving along the rock face to access the next challenges). a number of open water swims and sea to rock extrications (which requires good upper-body strength and flexibility.
During the session we also were joined by a couple of sea lions, which added to the experience.
The session invoked a good amount of laughter within the team, encouraged teamwork and communication and more importantly was a good confidence booster when the challenges were completed.
The sessions were conducted with safety in mind and the level of supervision was always high from the Watersport centre qualified instructors.
MOUNTAIN BIKING – Voted one of the top cycle destinations in the UK, mountain biking in the beautiful Cardinham Woods, Bodmin proved an exhilarating way to finish the week of adventure training. Under the expert tutor Adam, from ‘Trailmunki’, the group tackled the ‘Bodmin Beast’ twice during the day. During the first route, around in the morning, the group received superb instruction from Adam on the technical aspects such as the tight bermed corners and rollers, with some of the group, including WO1 Moran and Maj Martin, demonstrating their prowess from the outset! Some members of the group even attempted the harder red section, ‘Dialled-In Dave’, a fast, alternative section to the more moderate, yet still challenging, blue route. After completing the ‘Bodmin Beast’ for the first time, the group took a well-earned lunch break in the idyllic surroundings, with some sampling the culinary delights of the award winning ‘Woods Café’ in preparation for the afternoon ahead. The group were able to apply the skills learnt in the morning to tackle the ‘Bodmin Beast’ for a second time in the afternoon. This time we negotiated the route faster, with a number of the group choosing to take the second red section, ‘Hell’s Teeth’, a tough climb with many technical aspects, including an extremely steep bermed descent. All the group, including those who had not taken part mountain biking before, thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the activity and were impressed with the high-quality instruction as well as the technical aspects of the course.