24 Hours in the Brecons
Posted By Andy Smith
We were recently appointed by Bear Grylls Survival Academy and were tasked with carrying out the brand’s Facebook ads to increase bookings. As I’m a big outdoor enthusiast, I asked if I could attend one of the courses, in order to get a better understanding of what to expect.
There was a space available on the 24-hour survival course in the Brecon Beacons over one weekend, so I jumped in the car and hit the road. After a four-hour drive, I was greeted by our instructors, Jeff, Nadine and Rob, and was handed my equipment – this consisted of a backpack, knife, cup, spoon, carrot, potato and turnip (I really started to look forward to my meal that evening!).
We quickly headed off into the wilderness and the first couple of tasks consisted of a Tyrolean traverse and a South African abseil. We were then taught how to source and filter water and forage for food. This is quite difficult in winter, but you’d be surprised what’s still available if you know where to look.
After a jam-packed day, the darkness started to close in so we were given three tarpaulins and told to make shelter for the night. Fifteen minutes later, we were onto our next lessons: fire, rope skills and navigation. At this point we were all getting pretty hungry, so we made sure we took everything on board and started to prep our meal for the evening.
There were five of us on the course, so we all put our veg together and made a lovely soup and, while that was boiling, the instructors gave us a quail each which we had to skin and cook. This made a lovely addition and gave us some much-needed energy.
After a bit of chit-chat and a full belly we were all pretty tired and called it a night – unfortunately my colleagues didn’t get much sleep, as my snoring was quite loud, so I was met with a few tired and angry faces in the morning! I’d had a great night’s sleep and was feeling good, so when Nadine woke us at 6am on a frosty morning for some PT, I leapt out of my sleeping bag like a gazelle!
A number of lessons followed, such as setting traps, learning the commando rope, smoke signals and foraging for maggots (nutty!).
We then headed down to the river and were taught how to cross this in the safest way. This basically meant you had to jump in like a frog and swim across in your gear. Cold water shock can easily kick in, in a situation like this, so we were taught some great techniques to overcome it. A couple of miles later and we were faced by a 30ft drop back into the river – a bit nervy, but a great experience.
We were nearing the end of the course – but, before we were home and dry, we had a couple more miles of marching through the mud and an abseil 170ft back off a vertical cliff! A few doubts go through your mind when you go off the edge, but it was amazing. When we got to the bottom we were greeted by the head instructor, Jeff, who gave us a firm handshake and a well done (this meant more than anything!).
After a quick change, I got back in the car and headed home, totally exhausted but so proud of what I’d achieved and the knowledge I took back to the office about the ins-and-outs of what we were ultimately tasked to sell was priceless. Bear Grylls motto is “IT MAY HURT A LITTLE” and it sure did!
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