Four Assistants, three Deputies, two Provincial Grand Masters and.….no, not a partridge in a pear tree but one immense challenge – the Warwickshire 2023 Festival Zip Wire Challenge. The aforementioned nine were joined by seven other intrepid souls, willing to risk life and limb, and brave the bitter North Welsh climate to raise money for the 2023 Festival.
Preparations had been expertly made by Team Greenwood but not even they could have predicted the weather. A Beast of the East brought more than a dusting of snow but, thankfully, the roads from Warwickshire to Gwynedd in deepest, darkest North Wales were clear, as shown by the trailblazers who shared reassuring photos of their journey with the rest of the group.
An impressive retinue was able to make the epic, picturesque drive to the Victoria Hotel in Llanberis, their base for the night. The group in the bar steadily grew, a sure sign of the friendliness epitomised by Warwickshire, before the assembled throng enjoyed some scrummy Welsh fayre along with some Welsh beer, with Welsh gin and Welsh whisky also available – well, it would have been rude not to!
Following a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, with multiple layers to keep out the chill, the party boarded a convoy of vehicles and headed off to Bethesda and Velocity Two to have some fun and to complete their challenge.
Having booked in, the 16 were able to find a warming drink – when the Provincial Grand Master, with his typical humour, chose to select from the numerous supporters suitable Craft and Royal Arch Executive replacements should the worst happen – before presenting themselves for a full briefing and a weigh-in (done very discretely, I hasten to add!).
They were then helped into their harnesses – a bizarre looking thing, somewhere between a worker’s apron, hard hats, and, well, you can use your imagination when you see the photos!!!
The experience that Velocity Two sells involves two wires – their little and big ‘zippers’ – and once togged up with a plethora of safely gear, our happy band traipsed off to the smaller zip wire. In groups of four, they were instructed to lie down on a padded bench, were strapped in and secured to the wire before the bench was lowered – apparently quite a sobering moment with nothing but fresh air in front of you! – the safely line was removed and “Geronimo”! As you can see from the photos, there were some smiles so it can’t have been that bad.
Once disengaged from the wire at the bottom, the bold zippees then boarded an ex-army lorry to be transported to the top of the quarry and the (much) bigger zipper, some 1500m long!! By this time, the Welsh weather had started to come in as it began to snow. This made it very interesting for participants and supporters alike – the former fearing they would have an impromptu exfoliation treatment and the latter struggling to see the groups of four as they hurtled down the zip wire at speeds approaching 100mph.
Once all 16 had safely made it down the mountain the fast way, they trudged back to the welcome centre to clamber out of their harnesses and warm up. By the looks on their faces, they had enjoyed themselves – or were simply very grateful to be back on terra firma!
Those who had paid for camera footage soon got to see their descent, complete with stunning views of the quarry and possibly some choice words (well, you try not to use certain words when plunging off the side of a mountain on a wire!!!). Before long, cars were loaded up and pointed, some in the direction of home and others in the direction of Llanberis where a hearty lunch of pie and chips waited. Having put the world to rights (as well as singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Julie Hall), those valiant Warwickshire folk then hit the road home, many with a extraordinary tale to tell.
To date, a little under £14,000 has been raised by the wider Warwickshire family – a fantastic result. If you wish to donate, you can still do so by simply clicking here for the Just Giving page.
Oh, in case you were wondering; ‘The Bold and the Foolish’ was the name of the WhatsApp group set up to keep the happy band of tourists in touch with each other. As I hope that you will all agree, they most certainly were bold and not a bit foolish!