Medals of Merit

On Thursday 25/9/03, the Group’s previous Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer finally got awarded Medals of Merit at our District’s AGM by one of our Assistant County Commissioners (it should have been the County Commissioner himself, but he didn’t appear). You can see pictures of Mike, Irene and Maureen in the Galley. They are also mentioned in the June 2003 Awards list from HQ. Click here to take a look.

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Saturday 16/8/03

We met at the Hall at around 9.00 am. The group from Bradwell were there already. The vans were packed and we set out just after 9.20 am. Fortunately, the journey down to London was quite uneventful. Just a bit of traffic delays around the M25. We arrived at the camp site at about 2.30 pm.

After setting up, choosing bunks etc. we started tea. We had to rush tea a bit as we were due at St. Paul’s tube station at 7.00 pm for our Ghosts of the Old City walk. The walk took us round some of the oldest parts of the City Of London and we were told about some of the more ‘grisly’ parts of our Capital’s history. We ended up back near to St. Paul’s Cathedral, so we decided to walk down to look at the Millennium Bridge. It was interesting to walk across it and look at all bridges and buildings lit up. The Tate Modern looked very impressive all lit up.

After looking up and down the Thames it was time to head back to the campsite.

On the way back we had a slight problem when three of the Scouts were not paying attention on the Tube and did not get off at the correct station. Luckily, they got off at the next station and found a policeman. So we found them quite easily. They were a bit shaken, but all right. We all got back to the campsite safe and sound!

Sunday 17/8/03

After getting up a bit late, and a hearty breakfast, we set off into London to do some sight seeing. Our first stop was Trafalgar Square. As it was a lovely, hot, summer’s day the opportunity to have a paddle in the fountains was taken! A couple of the Scouts got rather wet indeed!

Next, we took a walk along The Mall towards Buckingham Palace, stopping along the way for some lunch. After looking at the Palace, we had a little look around St. James Park before going to The Guard’s Museum. While there some of the Scouts were able to try on some Guard’s uniforms and very smart they looked too!

After the museum we walked down to Westminster, past the Houses of Parliament and down to the South Bank of The Thames and on past County Hall.

Then it was back to the camp site for tea and chilling out for the evening.

Monday 18/8/03

Jop had arranged for us to have a look around the Lloyds building in the City of London this morning. We all got down there and met up with the people who were to be taking us round. The only problem was, three of the leaders (including me) were not allowed into the building as we were wearing shorts! So while the rest of the group went round the building and saw the Lutine Bell, we went for a coffee! By all accounts everyone enjoyed the tour.

For lunch we wandered down to The Thames and saw for the first time H.M.S. Belfast, our evening’s accommodation.

During the afternoon we indulged in a little retail therapy. First of all, Hamleys (loads of toys!), then on to Covent Garden. We had to leave a little early as we had to get back to camp and pick up of stuff for the stay onboard H.M.S. Belfast. We were a little late getting there as Jop was a bit late coming back from work. This didn’t matter though.

When we arrived at H.M.S. Belfast, we were met by the Imperial War Museum’s liaison with us, Nick. He took us on board and let us know all the rules. After we had settled in, we went to find some food. The majority of us went for a pizza at a restaurant just the other side Tower Bridge, while four of the group went off for a curry. The pizza restaurant was quiet until we walked in! Still we had an enjoyable meal and after we finished we headed back to the ship and everyone met up there. After finishing watching ‘The Mummy’ it was off to bed.

Tuesday 19/8/03

Got up quite early for us! Well, at 7.30 am anyway, as breakfast was at 8.00 am in the Walrus Café. After we had eaten, we were given a short talk about the ship and the conditions on board during the Second World War, by Barbara one of the Ship’s education officers. We all had the chance to try out a hammock (quite comfy) and dress up in naval clothes. We were then let loose around the ship.

After everyone had taken a good look round the ship, it was time to head back to the camp for lunch and then a quiet afternoon.

In the evening we had the traditional end of camp BBQ.

Wednesday 20/8/03

Packed up and came home! The end of a successful camp.

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On Wednesday 9/4/03, the numbers in the Scout Troop rose dramatically when seven of the Cubs were invested into the Troop.

The evening started with the Cubs getting their Moving On awards, their length of service awards and formally saying goodbye to Sharon, Paul, Michele and the rest of the Pack.

Once the Cubs had gone home, we started the investiture ceremony. Before the new Scouts were invested however, the two new Patrol Leaders were given their P.L.’s badges and the badges of their newly named patrols – Eagle and Tiger (which have already started to become called Eeyore & Tigger!).

Then it was time to invest the new Scouts. All their parents were invited and cameras were at the ready. It took some time to invest seven new Scouts. After all were invested, they were given their patrol badges.

With the ceremony over, parents & Scouts were invited to have a cup of tea and some biscuits and a chat.



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Ju-Beau-Lee Camp August 2002

Friday 23/8/02

We left in convoy to Beaudesert at just after 3 in the afternoon. It took us just under an hour to get there.
On arrival, we were directed to our sub camp and met our sub camp chief, Ray. Our sub camp’s theme was Malaysia. We were all given our sub camp’s neckerchiefs, which were blue with black edges, and started to set up the camp.
After our quick butties tea, we finished setting up and had a bit of a mess around.
We had to give a sign to the sub camp to put on their gate. Ours was the largest!
At about 8.45 a Scout band came round to collect us up for the opening ceremony. This was where the whole camp got together for the first time and met the camp chief, Glyn. All groups were invited to put a neckerchief on a friendship pole. After the camp was opened, we watched a rather good firework display. After that, we wandered back to the campsite for supper and bed.

Saturday 24/8/02

An early start was needed as the Scouts had to register in their groups before going off to do their activates. During the day, the Scouts went canoeing, shooting, mountain biking, problem solving and generally buying loads of sweets from the shop!
I had to pop home to get a new regulator for our new stove – doh!
The weather decided to have a bit of a downpour in the afternoon, but it wasn’t too bad.
In the evening, we were treated to some live music.

Sunday 25/8/02

Another day, another early start! Mat had to go to the sub camp for flag break and managed to get lost!
The activities completed this day included shooting, archery, mountain biking, various sub camp activities and climbing.
Jop came out in the morning, er, sorry afternoon (late again!) and decided to climb up a tree for a chill!
The evening’s entertainment was a showing of Back to the Future preceded by a Roger Rabbit cartoon. It’s a different experience to watch a film in a field!

Monday 26/8/02

After a slightly later start, we sent Mat off for the shooting competition, which he won! While he was off shooting things Jop and I started to build a sedan chair for the race that was due later in the morning.
After some testing it was decided that it would be better for Mat and Antony to carry it and Tom to be the passenger.
During the race the other team crashed and Mat and Antony nearly ran into them and ended up with Mat running backwards! We didn’t win, but it was good fun.
After packing away and lunch we went to the closing ceremony. Again, the Scout band picked us up and we followed them to the ceremony. Mat was presented with two trophies for winning the shooting. We collected another Group’s neckerchief (1st Norton Canes – Cannock Chase District) and a Guide group got ours.
The camp closed and we came home after a great weekend.

Nick Wood 29/8/02

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Group AGM – June 2002

At this year’s Group AGM an era ended as the current Group Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer retired after 19 years with The Group. Mike, Irene and Maureen, were presented with some lead crystal glasses, some flowers for the ladies and some whiskey for Mike as a thank you from The Group (and some shaving foam from Steve Padin – old joke!). They were also presented with Long Service Awards by Jackie Brocklehurst, ADC Cubs, in the DCs absence.

Three ex leaders also sent a few words of thanks and they are below –

Having spent several years as an assistant leader and 5 years as a Venture leader at Porthill I came to appreciate the work that the fund raising committee do.
Mike, Irene and Mo have now been members of the fund raising committee so long that they have out performed all of the tents that have ever been purchased!
Sorry, I meant; Mike, Irene and Mo have now been members of the fund raising committee so long that it is easy to take for granted the work that they have to put to raise the funds required for the group. They have continued to do this even though they have had no children involved for some time.
The leaders of the group already have their hands full in trying to run their individual sections, without the committee organising and running the fund raising the sections would not be able to offer the range of activities that they have over the years and at the price!
The individual sections will never be able to raise the funds that the committee does so either the activities will suffer or the parent’s purse. I really do hope for the future of the group that new blood will now take over and continue with the good work they have achieved over the years.

So what will the 3 members do now with their extra time? Well you have to ask them, but Mo … you could sort out my finances for me.

So from myself and past members, it’s a Very Big Thank You! You won’t be forgotten.

Gareth O’Donnell

The end of an era, probably the best span in the life of Porthill Scouts. Life as a Scout Leader or Assistant can be both hard and unrewarding. But in Porthill, it was hard, fun, enjoyable and a pleasure.
There were two reasons for this. The first was the quality of the boys (a right mixed bag!), but fun to be with, they were always prepared to have a go, with sometimes surprising results. The second and most important was the quality and commitment of The Group Executive Committee. Mike, Irene and Maureen, tireless at working for, organising and taking part in Christmas parties, discos, hoe downs, jumble sales, trips out, in fact anything to raise money for The Group. And it takes a lot. For mini buses, insurance, subs, equipment. I don’t know if anyone does know just how much money they have raised to keep the Group going.
Most group executives have the parents of Group members on it (and that’s how these three started), it’s just that they never stopped, even when their sons left the Group.
I know Steve Padin would say we would not here been so successful during his time as Scout Leader without these three old mouseketeers!
At my first annual camp as Leader, Hurricane Charlie smashed or lost most of our equipment. But, on returning, these three just started organising to replace all we had lost. The fun of their meetings, hoe-downs, parties and trips was an experience in it’s self. I still remember Steve Padin’s farewell party. He was multi-coloured and very sticky at the end.
The family camp at Kibblestone, great fun, charging around in the pitch dark, scaring the lads and girls to death, we were all wet, cold and tied up – some things you can only get away with in Scouting!
So to end, may I say a big thank you from all the Leaders, boys, The Burslem District (as was) officers and, of course, myself. You made the job easier and much more fun and the three of you deserve your retirement, so enjoy it.
Many, many thanks and God Bless you.

Kenneth Johnson

Pasadena California
17 March 2002

Dear Mike, Irene and Maureen,

You probably weren’t expecting to hear from me, but the Porthill Scout’s grapevine covers vast distances. When I heard that you had decided to retire, my first thought was, "Gosh, are they still organising jumble sales and trips to Blackpool illuminations (obviously yes)", followed by the realisation that it’s been nigh on twenty years, and that makes me, well, almost ancient.

I just wanted to say that I have some really wonderful memories of working with you (and, I must admit, I still have occasional nightmares about shaving). Anyway, Porthill Scouts wouldn’t be here without you and I just hope you all had as much fun as I did. You did a great job. Thanks!


See, our ex leaders get all over the world!

Finally, a little of their history and thanks from me –

At the beginning of 1983, 1st St. Andrew’s, Porthill Scout Group consisted of just a Cub Pack. Just before Easter that year, one of our old Cubs came forward with the offer of restarting the Scout Troop. This offer was taken up and the opportunity of starting up a Group Executive at the same time was taken.
After a bit of ‘persuasion’, the core positions of the committee of Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer were taken up by Mike Gritton, Irene O’Donnell and Maureen Lowndes respectively.
They were instrumental in helping the fledgling Scout Troop to raise the initial money needed for equipment such as award material, camping equipment etc. Since then the Group has started up a Venture Unit and Beaver Colony and Mike, Irene and Maureen have been there to help with all the start up costs and continue to help supply the sections with the equipment they needed.
In their time with the Group, they have managed to raise money to start up three new sections from scratch, buy and maintain a sizeable amount of equipment for meetings, camping equipment and buy and maintain three mini buses. They have also helped to organise and finance Group camps and a Scout camp in Germany.
They have achieved this by running trips to Blackpool, trips for Christmas shopping in Nottingham, hoe downs, line dances, jumble sales, quiz nights, BBQs, treasure hunts – the list is endless!
The three of them had thought the jobs were just for a couple of years, but they have been doing them for nineteen years and as they now no longer have sons in the Group (all long grown up and left Scouting), they have decided to ‘retire’.
Without their help and generous support, the group would not be in such a healthy state as it is today and many people over the last nineteen years would not have been able to enjoy all Scouting has to offer young people in the Porthill area.
We are sorry to lose them and thank them for all their hard work over the years.

Nick Wood 7/6/02

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Hike near Errwood Reservoir

On Sunday 24/2/02 we went for our first hike of the year near to Errwood Reservoir in The Peak District. The weather forecast was not too good, but we went anyway. The area had a light covering of snow, but nothing to be concerned about. However, when we started climbing the hill, it started to snow quite heavily. After a while the visibility was getting poor so we had to change our plans and move back to lower ground.

All this did not detract from the walk and everyone had a great time especially as we could have on-going snowball fights!

Written by Nick 11/3/02

Photos are in the gallery.

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Camp at Kibblestone

On Friday 8/2/02, we went to Kibblestone for a weekend ‘camp’. I say ‘camp’ as the Scouts were staying in The Outpost and the only people actually camping were myself and one of the Ventures! For anyone familiar with The Outpost, it has just undergone a revamp and there are now heaters in there – part of the ‘fun’ of staying in The Outpost was freezing to death at night!

On the Saturday we did some knife and axe instruction with two of the new Scouts. In the afternoon we made a bridge across a road. However, we did it without using rope! See the photos. In the evening we did a wide game and then returned to The Outpost for a supper of pancakes.

On the Sunday we spent the majority of the morning pratting around. In the afternoon we packed up and came home.

Written by Nick 11/3/02

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Minibus Vandalism

On Sunday 7/10/01 I had to go to the hall to check over our minibus so it would be ready for use for our forthcoming camp. Unfortunately, some vandals had broken into it, set fire to the seats and ripped out most of the internal wiring, relays and fuses. This meant it was unusable and, in view of the damage done, beyond repair. After a few phone calls it was decided to scrap the mini bus. Not ideal, but it meant that it could not get damaged any more and cause a potential hazard to the hall.
This means we are now without a minibus, but we are continuously fund raising and there are a couple of avenues we are exploring to get some more money. More about those if they come off!
The good news is that there has been an article in The Sentinel (our local newspaper) on Monday 15/10/0. I’ve typed it out below –

The Sentinel Monday 15/10/01

Vandals destroy Scouts’ minibus

By Denise Markham – Newcastle Reporter

Vandals have left a Scout Group in limbo after wrecking the Group’s minibus which was to take them on a trip.
Boys from Porthill Scouts were scheduled to go on a camping trip this weekend to Kibblestone in Stone, but vandals have now damaged their minibus.
The culprits forced the vehicle’s locks open and set fire to the seats, ripped out the electrics and snatched the radio and speakers.
It is believed that a gang of youths climbed over a four-foot wall to make their way in to St. Andrew’s Church Hall car park, where the 10-seater vehicle was kept, before carrying out the vandalism, a week ago.
The Scouts are now having to make alternative transport plans to ensure they do not miss out on the camping trip.
Police say they are aware of the incident and special patrols have been stepped up following a number of complaints about anti-social behaviour in the area. Officers are also visiting schools to talk to pupils about the consequences of anti-social behaviour.
Nick Wood, leader of the Scout Group, said: "The bus was 10 years old but it was safe and road worthy and we took the Group out frequently on camping trips, to play football, ice skating and hiking.
"I’m very annoyed at what’s happened and we are having to get rid of the minibus.
"We were supposed to be going on a camping trip next weekend so we will have to think of other ways to get there. We will still be going. We won’t let vandalism stop us.
"It is annoying. We give up our spare time to give young people a good time and something different to do and it feels like it’s all been thrown away."
PC Paul Bonell-Sims, North Staffordshire antisocial behaviour co-ordinator, said work to reduce antisocial behaviour was taking place.
"Presently within the North Staffs Division, 33 per cent of our time is spent dealing with nuisance and disorder incidents," he said.
"It is for that reason, reducing the levels of antisocial behaviour is a divisional priority. We have received almost 100 calls complaining of disorder in these areas so far this year.
"We currently hold more antisocial behaviour orders than any other division within the country, which will be increasing before the end of the year.
"Only a small minority of teenagers cause these problems but they have a huge detrimental impact on lives of those who suffer.
"We accept that we cannot be everywhere all of the time but would urge members of the public to contact the police when they are affected by groups of teenagers causing problems.
"We do not wish for the silent majority to suffer."
Porthill Scouts are now hoping to raise £2000 for a minibus.

As soon as the above article was in the paper, than one of our local radio stations, Signal, rang to see if they could do anything for us. After quite a few phone calls between them and myself, Signal arranged the hire of a small van for the weekend for us. Also Bradwell Community Shop and one of our old Scout Leaders, Dave Farr, gave us a donation for the minibus fund. So many thanks to both Signal, Bradwell Community Shop and Dave for their support.

On Thursday 18/10/01, the following appeared in The Sentinel –

The Sentinel Thursday 18/10/01

Scouts weekend back on track

A Scouts camping trip which was in danger of being cancelled can now go ahead thanks to the generosity of a charity.
The Porthill Scouts had arranged a trip this weekend to Kibblestone near Stone, but because vandals damaged their minibus so badly it looked like the trip would have to be abandoned.
But after reading in The Sentinel about the plight of the Scouts, Signal Radio’s Walkathon Appeal arranged for a van from Afford Rent-a-Car in Shelton to help them out.
Leader of Porthill Scouts Nick Wood said: "The weekend can now go ahead and the Scouts can look forward to a great time."

So, we were able to go camping. All we need to do now is some major fundraising!

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Hoe Down 13/10/01

This hoe down was a bit of an end of an era. The caller, Cyril, who we have used for the last twenty years or so had decided to call it a day, so this was his last hoe down for us. Also because this was to be the last hoe down organised by the Group Executive Committee of Mike, Irene and Maureen who are also retiring from the Group next year after nearly twenty years hard work with fund-raising activities.
The evening went very well with the majority of people initially getting the dances hopelessly wrong, but generally getting the hang of things.
After the traditional pie and pea supper, Mike presented Cyril with an engraved cut glass vase as a thank you. He was very surprised!
At this point we sprung a surprise presentation on Mike, Irene and Maureen. Jop got up to do a little speech and then I presented the ladies with some flowers, while Michelle presented Mike with a bottle of Glenfiddich. Carol then took our photo. Everyone was very please and impressed that we had managed to keep everything quiet.
In all we had a great evening and made over £100 in the process.

Finally, once again thanks to Mike, Irene and Maureen.

Written by Nick

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Ice Skating At Altrincham

On Wednesday 26th September 2001, we left Porthill at 7:00 pm en route for Altrincham Ice Rink near Manchester. When we eventually arrived at our destination, we had to wait for a while for Jop because he was running late from work.
We went in, but Tony decided that he would prefer to go to the pub to meet his girlfriend rather than join us on the ice. We did a few circuits around the rink and then two of the Scouts spent a bit of money by going on the arcade games while another watched. One of the Scouts seemed to be the better player on ‘Alien Destruction’ and won the football game.
We went back onto the rink with about half an hour left; all the Scouts and leaders went round together, just having loads of fun!!!
Sadly it was time to leave at about 9:00 pm. We all got off the rink, returned our skates and then one of the Scouts got a drink of coca cola then rushed back to the others. When we were all together we saw that it was chucking it down, suddenly Tony came round the corner and we all ran to the cars. We split up and the leaders took the Scouts back to their homes.

Written by Anthony

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London Trip 3/8/01 – 6/8/01

Friday 3/8/01

Everyone met up at my house at 10.45 and we left, on time(!), at 11.00. There were eight of us – Mat & Antony (Scouts), Tony, Carol & Michelle (Ventures) and Dave, Jop and myself (leaders). The actual journey itself wasn’t too bad, except it was very hot. We stopped off on the M1 at a service station for some lunch at about 13.00. After restarting, we arrived at the camp site at around 14.40. As we were driving in, we met the Bailiff on the way out! He was just off to meet his grandchildren and said that he would be back in around an hour. So we were left to do a bit of sunbathing.

Once the Bailiff came back, we got the keys to the buildings (we cheated and didn’t camp this time!) and got set up. While some of the group set up the rooms, the rest of us went shopping.

With the shopping finished we returned for a quick tea and it was then off into London itself for a ‘London Walk’. Fortunately the Tube was behaving, and we arrived at Tower Hill on time for the start of the ‘Jack The Ripper Haunts’ walk. There were so many people wanting to take the tour that it had to be split in two. It was a very interesting and informative tour. We got to see some of the bits of London not normally seen by tourists and also learned a bit about The Ripper and the conditions of the Victorian East end of London.

We got back to the site completely knackered!

Saturday 4/8/01

We actually got up at a respectable time and after a good breakfast set off into London again.

First stop was Hyde Park to watch the 41 gun salute for the Queen Mother’s 101st birthday. You don’t actually realise the scale of what is going to happen until some soldiers walk onto the field by their ammo boxes. Moments later horses come thundering down the field pulling the gun carriages. The guns are then set up and on the stroke of midday, they start to fire one by one. Our ears rung for a few minutes after they finished firing – I’m glad they were only blanks!

Jop and Dave then hired a rowing boat and Mat and I hired a peddle boat for half an hour on The Serpentine – how very civilised!

After a bit of persuasion from Carol and Michelle we then went to Harrods. Our favourite bargains were £50 per kg for some mushrooms and £6500 for an antique chair! Once we had bought the place up we went on to Covent Garden for a quick look round.

Our final stop for the day was Oxford Street. On passing the theatre staging Les Miserables, Dave and Jop decided that they would like to ‘take in a show’, so they went to get tickets for that evening’s performance. They were lucky and got reasonable cheap tickets, so they went back to the camp with Antony while the rest of us carried on to Oxford Street. As we were on our way, we got caught in a major downpour – no matter where we go, no matter what we do, we always get wet!

As we got back to the site Dave & Jop were leaving for their evening of culture and so we had our tea and chilled out for the rest of the evening. A slight diversion was that my cousin popped round to say ‘Hi’ (his family live just round the corner from the campsite).

Sunday 5/8/01

After a more leisurely start and later breakfast, during which Dave & Jop told us about their adventures after the show in Soho, we set off on our travels once more. We travelled down to Tower Hill and crossed over The Thames on Tower Bridge. We then had a walk along the South bank of The Thames towards the Tate Modern art gallery. We had a quick look round, it certainly is an impressive building (it’s an old power station), with some interesting exhibits.

As time was pressing on we had to carry on down The Thames towards Westminster to the London Eye. The views from The Eye are very impressive, especially on a fine clear day, which we had. We could even see Alexandra Palace which is just up the road from where we were camping.

Once finished on The Eye, we wandered up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square for a few photo opportunities.

After we got back to the site, it was time for the traditional end of camp BBQ. Jop & Dave did a splendid job of cooking and, as usual, we had too much to eat again. My cousin turned up again and helped us out with the food.

Monday 6/8/01

Got up a bit earlier than usual as we had to pack up and tidy up before going out. Also, we had to make sure that our uniforms were looking smart and pressed properly as we were off to the Houses of Parliament.

Just as we set out for the Tube, it started to throw down with rain and wet got drenched (again…….). Fortunately, by the time we arrived at Westminster we had all dried out. We met up with our local Member of Parliament, Paul Farrelly, who had arranged a tour round Parliament for us. The Palace of Westminster is a fascinating place, full of history and the actual Commons chamber is a lot smaller than it looks on T.V.

Back at camp, we had an improvised lunch, packed up and left at 15.30. We finally got home just before 19.00.

All of us were knackered, but a good time was had by all.

Written by Nick

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Indoor Climbing

In May we went indoor climbing.
We went to the wall, which is in Stafford Scout Group’s hut. When I first saw the wall I thought it was small, but some of the routes which had been planned were quite hard, especially the one where you had to climb over a door using only your arms. The overhangs were also quite tricky, as we had to clip the rope to carribenas when we went up and unclip them when we went down i.e. no abseiling down. We had a good time. I hope to go again soon although maybe for longer. I would recommend indoor climbing to anyone who thinks they could do it or are just up for the challenge.

Written by Antony

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