Along with two friends from Murray Edwards, I spent five days travelling independently in North Wales. We stayed in a self-catered holiday cottage in Blaenau Ffestiniog, and visited many places in Snowdonia during our time there, participating in a variety of activities. I drove us to Wales, which was the furthest I have driven, and stopped at the airport on the way there and back to pick up and drop off Victoria. I had no previous experience of driving to the airport, and had to find where to go for the terminal we required. I also drove us to all the different places we visited in Wales. These included Llandudno, Portmeirion, Conwy Castle, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, and we even went llama trekking!
One of my personal highlights was visiting the Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mines. This allowed us to explore the shallowest two of the nine levels of the mine that have been excavated. As a Materials Science student, it was fascinating to learn how the malachite ore is mined and the copper extracted from the malachite by smelting before being cast into axe heads, and how these processes were carried out as far back as 4000 years ago, using tools such as stones and animal bones. Some of the green malachite was still visible in the rocks, along with some calcite crystals.
Driving to the various places we visited meant navigating unfamiliar roads to find where we were going, then finding a suitable parking spot once we arrived. Squeezing in as much as we did during our time there necessitated careful planning throughout the week. In some cases we could have done with planning further in advance – there was no remaining availability on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which we had hoped to ride. Staying in self-catered accommodation in a small town meant we had to plan our meals to suit our various dietary requirements at the start of the week, and purchase our food for the week during an initial supermarket trip before arriving at our accommodation.
Overall, I had a fantastic time in Wales, and feel that my confidence and independence have been greatly increased by the experience. I am incredibly grateful for the Gateway Challenges Funding for making this possible.