Awarded - The Gold Standard Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Let there be light !!

At last staff training outside. A novelty of late but we found sunlight in the end.

A rather wet and windy day yesterday staff training. Mind you, what do you expect when you go gorge walking in the middle of a storm and after days of rain. However a great day was had by all.
The main focus of the day was looking at spotting, group management, visiting the approved mines that are along the gorge, challenged that can be given to the group, using the gorge in high water levels and Tyroleans ( Crossing using a rope )
A great day for wearing a dry suit and for some personal challenges. One of which I will post a video of later.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Still in the Dark

I think as staff we need to get some sun next time, well not even that as just daylight would be good. So the darkness theme continues. In order to uphold our mine leader qualifications, we have to revalidate and a part of that process is gaining more personal experience in new mines.

With this in mind, we have had a few quality days exploring mines near Corris. We have been to some great places underground, found a wide range of old items left behind by the miners ( such as boots, winches, old first aid boxes, telephones ) and practised a variety of technical skills needed to look after groups.

Some of the chambers visited have been hugh and exploring new mines you never quite know what to expect, even more so when some of the mines there are no surveys to follow.

One of the mines, meant going through water at armpit level ! thankfully it was only the one.
It does being home to us the amazing sense of satisfaction our groups must get they go underground on our courses, to visit such amazing places.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Underground is the theme

This week there has been 4 of our of staff undergoing mine leader training and assessment. Jason and Sol went on a North Wales Local Mine Leader training course and Mark and Matt passed their SRT for mine leaders. SRT stands for single rope technique , which means they are able to climb a fixed rope by using a series of mechanical clamps. This technique means more vertical , technical and remote venues can be visited.

One thing is for sure, it has been an ideal week to be underground due to the weather. So windy and wet.  Most mines are not effected by the rain unlike many caves.

Next step is for Sol and Jason to pass their assessment so they can lead groups underground and Matt and Mark are now able to run more technical trips, with the first one planned for Jan 2016.

Underground exploration is a very exciting and unique experience and one which more and more of our groups are asking for. We use 3 old slate and lead mines which may sound dangerous. However, we only venture into areas within the mine passed out by the HSE mines inspector.

Groups are able to step back in time and go on a historical, adventurous, educational, fun and cool activity.
Best practice rope climbing indoors first

Handle to the workings of a incline deep in Cwm Orthin Slate mine

Abseiling down

Be a good idea to look at the map

Our group mines are not this bad.  Exploring an old Lead mine 

Follow me, its not that tight. Again staff pushing things a little more than when with groups

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Nettle and CPD

As part of staff development, keeping current and ensuring that as a centre we are able to offer a range of high level outdoor adventures and experiences, it is important we develop Continuous Personal Development ( CPD )  Another key reason for CPD is for instructors to work outside their own personal comfort zone something which we ask of our customers on a daily basis.

Certain activities such as mining and caving require you to undertake a certain amount of CPD by the awarding National Governing Body in order to maintain your qualification.

With this in mind Mark the centre manager had a visit to the Peak District recently.  On one of the days, a trip down Nettle Pot, a natural formed cave,  gave good scope to practice and learn new skills alongside discussing good practice with the other members of the team,  another centre manager and a caving club member.

Most people assume caving is crawling around in mud and water. It certainly can be in many instances but there are many vertical caves which require the use of rope to get down to the base of the cave. Nettle Pot is one of these. You descend a total of  170 metres with one section,  a free hanging abseil of 45m.  The only downside is you need to climb all the way back up afterwards, another skill in itself.

In terms of comfort zone, there was one section one the way down ( and obviously on the  the way up ) which was quite tight. With your back against the cave wall and your face and chest against the other side of the cave wall, with a couple of instance when breathing out made a big difference, one could say you had to focus.

The attached video clip is what one of the group members shot ( Thanks for Ed Bayliss ) just using a standard go pro on their helmet and no extra lighting. Around 1.25 mins you get to idea of it being tight fit. A really interesting trip.

If any one  / group of people would like a introduction to a cave experience ( without the really tight sections and the rope work )  then the centre can provide these in the Peak District.  Just contact the centre for further details. There are a variety of beginner caves we use and all equipment is supplied.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Inner Chimp

This evening the centre manager ( Mark ) was luckily enough to get a ticket to go and see Sir David Brailsford.  Being a very keen cyclist since an early age this was a fantastic opportunity for Mark.  Sir Dave was giving his talk at a local school to the centre Ysgol Brynrefail. ( Ysgol means school in Welsh and Brynrefail is the name of a local village. )

Sir Dave was a pupil at the school being brought up in the village just down the road from Blue Peris. He is very proud of being Welsh,  the area he was brought up in and still visits on a regular basis friends and family here.   It was a great honour to have Sir Dave speaking at the school and giving the local people a chance to meet and listen to him talk about his journey in life.

For those of you not having heard of Sir Dave, he is the person who changed British Cycling.  The UK is now looked upon,  in envy,  by every other country in the world in view of track and road cycling.

Alongside numerous gold medals for track cycling in a variety of Olympics, Sir Dave took the UK to it's first ever Tour De France win and then a another 2 Tour De France wins ( by Chris Froome ) within a 4 year time span.   All with Team Sky. Quite impressive.

One of the strong messages to come from Dave, was have a dream, or many dreams,  then go and work hard at trying to achieve these dreams.  Stay focused , work hard and do not give up. Have values in life and stick to these. It was interesting to here him say that he values effort often more than results. Yes you need results, but effort accounts for a lot in life.

So for any young person reading this post, take note,  go and dream, believe in your dreams, work hard have values in life and stick to them. Do not let others around you drag you down.

This fits nicely into what Blue Peris promotes on our courses. Its not about results its about the process and the positive values we have have of each other and life. Finally,  as many of the young people that visit us find out, they achieve what they thought was impossible and that is in between 5-7 days. Imagine what they can achieve in a lifetime if given the opportunity.

So to the inner chimp. I will let you google that !

Mark the Blue Centre manager in action, realising Sir Chris Hoy makes it look easy

The whacky side of the Tour De France

Friday, 20 November 2015

We are the winners

When I say we, I mean the pupils for all their energy, enthusiasm, hard work and smiles, the instructors for being so motivated with challenging weather and conditions  and the visiting staff for being so positive . I should not forget the energy they have given to enable the pupils to flourish

There is such a buzz in the centre this evening and its a shame the course has come to an end. There will be many lifelong memories going back to England this weekend and tired young people.

The last days of the course,  the groups have been out and about with a mixture of climbing ( indoors and outdoors ) raft building, orienteering, underground mine adventure, gorge walking and orienteering.

Well done to the parents and guardians for seeing the value in a educational and learning vist to Blue Peris.

Are we really about to underground and see have the Victorian's worked the slate mines.

 Yes we are

Gorge walking in North Wales-Outdoor Learning



Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Day 2 . Centre 1 - The Weather 0

Firstly on yesterdays post, when we said " no one wished to come to work"  it meant.  Oh dear, its going to be a tricky one this week and we always wish the best for the pupils.

So day 2 dawned and not matter how many different forecasts we looked at we could not find any good weather  !  After a lot of discussion about what venues would work, what would maybe  un safe to visit, we proposed 2 groups go gorge walking and 2 groups go for an underground adventure.

Well off to work we went and the groups really worked well today. Lots of team spirit and determination.

What will day 3 bring ? Will the centre win or will it be the weathers turn ?

Monday, 16 November 2015

New group, They have made a great start, We escaped the rain, What better start could you have

Looking at the forecast yesterday,  no one was looking forward to work today. However, we managed to pull it off. Dry and a tad windy ! that was good day.

The wind gave much fun on the top of our well chosen mountain summit and the climbers managed to tick many routes. Well done to everyone.

What is planned for tomorrow. Lets wait and see what the forecasts have to say in the morning.

Its dry and sunny and we are rock climbing outside. Wow !

This is so cool.  Well Outdoor Education at Blue Peris always is

The trust involved is real and not manufactured

How come Alex can make map reading so enjoyable 

Discussing the route for the day

Saturday, 14 November 2015


Matt, one of our instructors and myself went off to explore a new venue with the possibility of taking groups there. This trip involves 4 abseils and a variety of crawling which enables you to go down through an old lead mine.  You enter the mine via an open rift  at the top and work your way down to pop out the bottom tunnel.

It proved to be a great trip and one we are defiantly going to take certain groups down when we get the opportunity.  So much potential here in N Wales. 

Matt abseiling down the first pitch

Mining adventure North Wales

Matt jumaring ( Mechanical clamps used to ascend the ropes )  back up the ropes at the end of the trip. On this occasion we left fixed ropes in on all the abseils and used them to climb back out the mine. 

Outdoor Education Exploration in North Wales

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Its been busy since Monday

Due to some IT issues we are behind with out postings.  However, its been a very busy few days. Tuesday we had groups underground on a mine adventure, groups at the climbing wall / visiting Electric Mountain in Llanberis as part of their engineering degree course and groups  under going a team challenge. This involved orienteering, raft building and abseil.

The weather has played a key part in this weeks programme, with a big swell out on the sea, floods and high winds elsewhere.  But true to the  "show must go on"  that is exactly what has happened.

Wednesday morning the first group headed back to university and the next group arrived. They took part in the team challenge event and today underground mine adventure , climbing and Electric Mountain , abseiling and orienteering.

Oh we also had some canoeing and caving staff training slotted in.

Busy Busy

Mine adventure at Blue Peris Mountain Centre in North Wales

Hey Dude


Told you it would float-Outdoor Education North Wales

Cooommmmeeee Back

We are going to nail the race

Is that the sun !!  Quick head onto real rock

Monday, 9 November 2015

A new day a new dawn a new group

It was going to be a challenge for the staff team today due to the weather.  So after a review of the programme it was down to the Blue Peris staff, to take on this weeks course aim Teamwork in order to have everything in place for the arrival of our 70 students.

The the university students arrive in good time and good spirits and it was not long before all groups headed out on activities. The Engineering students were tasked with Orienteering and Raft Building teamwork task, whilst the Product Design team headed indoors.

All three climbing groups focused their efforts in the climbing wall today. Many of the students had little climbing experience prior to coming to Blue Peris, but respective of this they all picked up the techniques very quickly, allowing for many climbs to be completed. Working well in small, efficient teams, every participant was able to try their hand at numerous styles of climbs.

A tremendous effort by all. Each participant pushed themselves  today, whether it was through overcoming fears by reaching a high point during their climb, or by choosing an even harder route to tackle.

I asked for something steep, but this ! are you kidding

 “The Purple Overhang Challenge”

 After the groups had excelled on the ropes we took to the groups for a spot of bouldering. Contesting amongst one another but dutifully encouraging at the same time, the lads here battled it out for who could complete the “purple overhang challenge”. Arms fully lactic, the groups were truly worn out by the time to leave and felt an overwhelming sense of achievement (and tiredness)!

Neck and Neck

With each climber being looked after by 3 others on the ground controlling the ropes , having built up their trust the climbers could concentrate on who was join to top out first

Outside Groups

You may well be asking where are the pictures of those hardly soles who braved the outdoors and got somewhat wet ? Well we have to admit, those cameras got left behind at the centre. Ops ! However, reports in were very good with high levels of motivation , good raft designs and much humour as the raft completed the set course.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

You might well ask why ?

What is it that attracts certain outdoor folk to head off and explore caves ? An afternoon of crawling, at times flat out and in water. ( good move wearing our wet suits under our waterproofs toady ) Other times stooping and cursing ones back.

Maybe it is the knowledge that caves are quite inspiring environments,  formed by nature over many years and that not many people actually get to see the wonders they offer.   Calcite curtains, stalagmites and tights and fossils there are a few impressive caves to be found in North Wales.

Sol one of our trainees is dead keen for exploring mines and caves of later and has no issue of squirming off up some muddy low level passage.

A good day off work ! We thought so.

Would we go back, definitely and next time taking more ropes and ladders with the view of abseiling down too the lower level , having found some fixed anchors.

Some rather poor pictures not quite selling it for some 

Loving it- Caving North Wales at Blue Peris Mountain Centre 

A lot better as it was deeper and lower earlier

Back to the real world