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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Victoria Synek Herd: Independent travel to North Wales

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    16 Dec
    Victoria Llama outside Portmeirion

    Gateway funding enabled me stay in North Wales with two of my friends from College during 16-21 September. This trip involved my first independent flight (Exeter-Manchester) and my first time travelling independently with friends. Although initially anxious about flying, I had an amazing time and the experience boosted my confidence in travelling on my own, doing new activities and keeping to a budget. 

    We stayed in a self-catered cottage in Blaenau Ffestiniog, from which we travelled to the north, west and south coasts. We had spectacular weather and were able to pack a lot into our week. I particularly enjoyed our visits to historic landmarks such as Conwy Castle and the Great Orme Copper Mine, which involved a self-guided tour down tunnels over 3,500 years old. I also enjoyed our impromptu river cruise along Conwy Bay and a canal boat trip on the world’s highest navigable waterway, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Llangollen.

    One of my favourite parts was our visit to Portmeirion, a unique, bizarre village of Italianate architecture which was built between 1925-76 and made famous by the 1960s TV series, ‘The Prisoner’. The multi-coloured buildings and juxtaposition of Italian and Asian motifs transported you into a different world, unrecognizable as North Wales! Perhaps even more unconventional was our morning llama trekking with the famous Black Rock llamas, which also involved ‘llama agility training’. Pony-trekking was also a new experience for me; I was a little daunted as I had never been on a pony or horse before! I really enjoyed our ride into the countryside around Snowdon, and was able to trot by the end of the session. 

    I am so grateful to Gateway for affording me the opportunity to try new things, experience travelling independently, and develop my time management and organisational skills. North Wales proved to be surprisingly exotic and I hope to go back again! 

    Victoria Synek Herd