When the lovely people at Center Parcs offered us the opportunity to take part in the indoor caving adventure at Whinfell Forest, I knew this was something Joe and his best pal Fin would love. They are both adventurers and love a challenge but if I am totally honest I was not sure it would be enough of a challenge for Jack and his best buddy Harry. How wrong could I be?
We have all visited Center Parcs together for many years now so I know the boys and their confidence levels quite well. Jack and Harry are adrenalin junkies the higher and more challenging the better. So although they were so looking forward to indoor caving, I underestimated it a tad. You see from the outside it looks very tame.
Chris and I were lucky enough to be involved too, and it never really entered my head it would be at all taxing, as it was an artificial environment I thought it would all be very tame and easy. Although I guessed this would not be 100% the case when a family exited as we were waiting to enter. The Dad of the family stumbled out and rolled his eyes at us, as if to say, “the things I do for my children.”
First I have to mention Danny our guide, he was fantastic and an experienced caver, he made the whole experience so real. Danny got us all rigged up in our protective equipment and made us do some warm up exercises before we started on our caving adventure.
He explained how caves are formed from water flow. Discussed stalegtites and staelgemites and the difference. The boys were enthralled; it quickly became apparent that this was not just a physical activity but also an education one. We learnt how to date caves from drawings and star constellations. How to tell which direction the water flows from in a cave, and all about fossils. It was so interesting.
Physically it was difficult, the caves were so tight and winding, in fact there were points where they looked to small to get through. It is actually very surprising what small spaces you can get through. It so odd, as we were going through the caves, even though we knew they were not real; it all felt so very real.
The activity lasted for 45 minutes; in that time we were challenged physically and learnt lots of new information. Danny ensured the boys were fully engaged throughout the whole activity, they thoroughly enjoyed every minute. In fact when the activity finished and we had said our thanks and goodbyes to Danny, the boys, especially the older ones declared it was the best activity they had ever done.
So if you look at caving and can’t quite decide if it is challenging enough, I would say it is great for all ages; Joe and Finn are 8 and 9, Jack and Harry 13 and 14. They all loved caving. They found it exciting, interesting and a challenge. And trust me keeping that adventurous lot interested is a big ask.