Leaving Marham on a hot spring afternoon we headed across to West Wales to join the No 2620 (County of Norfolk) Squadron RAuxAF Regiment, Adventurous Training Exercise based in the Southern Snowdonia National Park.

Our Ground Liaison Officer (GLO), Major Gary Walker, had advised that as we were training in Wales it would be sensible to take waterproofs and warm clothes; however we thought this unnecessary as we motored through England in clear sunny skies and above average temperatures. Thankfully, we trusted Major Walker’s wealth of experience, heeded his advice and had been well prepared by the PEd Flt at Marham, who provided us with all the right equipment, as we were soon to find out.

Indeed it was about ten miles from our base location that we first viewed the heavy weather front that would hang over us for most of the week, with strong winds and driving rain being the order of the day.

The exercise was based in a Farm Camp on the outskirts of Dolgellau, which although basic accommodation, proved to be an excellent facility ideally located for the training that we were about to undertake. Indeed with Officer Commanding 2620 and the GLO doing the cooking what more could we ask for.

The training itself included hill walking, wild camping, mining, mountain biking and orienteering all of which was made more interesting by being wet! We were led throughout the week by some of the excellent and very experienced Instructors provided by 2620 Squadron and the Force Development Training Centre at Fairborne.

The first two days were spent in the Rhinog Fech area with our traversing hill summits in thick cloud, squally rain and winds gusting 50mph. The wet rock surfaces required extreme care and particularly some of the descents across boulder scree, but apart from the odd slip, fall and ripped waterproof bottoms all went without major mishap, our camping for the night in the lee of a dry stone wall which offered some small protection from the elements. The return journey the following day across the boggy terrain was also more difficult than it first looked and being flat we ought to have realised that the surface would not have been as solid as it appeared, settling up to our knees in soft bog and squelching on watched by sheep in adjacent fields that clearly knew better!!

The rest of the weeks’ exercise followed a similar pattern but under the skilful advice and direction of the 2620 Squadron Instructors we soon became adept at cross country map reading and navigation and personal admin in the field, not to mention how to fly fish in a mountain tarn having never touched a rod and reel before. Luckily nobody had their ears hooked and fortunately we did not need the fish for food as we would have gone very hungry.

All in all it was an excellent week for the TIW team who were very grateful to OC 2620 Squadron allowing such a novice group to join them on their annual exercise. We all learnt a great deal, not just in personal development but as a team, having to rely on each other in what at times were quite arduous and difficult conditions.

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