Harmonia hits the Rapids in Wales by Vanessa Mansergh

The four of us set off on a team building weekend in Bala (Wales) with tents and enough gear to last us a week away (help!!).  A few hours later we were at the National White Water Rafting Centre dressed in our fetching skin tight wet suits, red helmets  and boots ready to hit the fast moving river.  Over lunch we had had a sneak preview of what to expect – a good soaking.  Thanks to the rainfall the river was moving fast and looking more like mini waterfalls in places. Alistair was looking for the “excitement factor” after a near death experience in Norway years ago rafting.  The rest of us just hoped to be alive at the end. We were joined by a lovely couple who were young and fit.  No doubt they were equally as ecstatic to be grouped with us – the three men with their six packs (beer), athletic builds (pre-Harmonia days), and a regime of weekly exercise (climbing into the car at both ends of the day).  We had the most chilled out leader with dreads and a very relaxed manner as we flew over the rapids and bounced off the rocks. We took it in turns to be in the front where you faced the full force of the water at every rapid. Their special treat was reversing into a rapid where we took it in turns to have the waterfall shower -ice cold water down your back while your team mates look on laughing.  By trip 5 down the same stretch of river we felt like we had had a work out. No one had died (sorry Alistair).

That evening we walked from our campsite at Pen y Bont into Bala town centre to try out a local pub. Pool came next which i ducked out from as I was “glamping” at the camp site in a  charming hand crafted gypsy caravan (someone had to do it). I could not wait to put on my electric heater and settle in for the night while the others slummed it in their tents! The perk of staying in the caravan apart from the obvious luxuries of warmth, was a fire pit for a BBQ and a kettle for our tea the next morning. Once we had filled our bellies, and made our packed lunches we set off for our next physical challenge – climbing the highest point in Denbighshire.  Cadair Berwyn stands at 830m above sea level. We started the walk at the most beautiful waterfall that Alistair and Sam dunked themselves in at the end. It was ice cold!  

It was a decent walk with about 2.5 hours of uphill until we reached the summit.  We were hardly gazelles scampering up but we all made it to the top panting! The views were stunning and the circular down hill part was almost more adventurous than the rafting.  The narrow path with the sheer drop to the left gave Alistair his second near death experience. I only worried about Sam who had described his issues with foot placement (often ended up falling over) and Ross with his knees.  Like I said before we were at olympic fitness levels. By the evening the injuries sustained were a sore finger, dodgy knees, tight calves and bad backs. A BBQ back at the camp site and some drinks soon sorted those out.  Some things are better left to the imagination!

Monday home trip took us via Ludlow for a delicious meal at an authentic italian find. All in all a great time had by everyone and who knows, we might be fitter for it.




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