Everyone knows that England is gray and cold most of the year. November is a particularly dreary time of the year and yet, it was still the month I decided to embark on a long adventure weekend to Wales.

Who wouldn’t want to jump off cliffs into the freezing cold water while it was raining? Or trek 5 miles on the side of a blistering cold mountain just for the heck of it? Or, even still, learn to surf in choppy dark waves while the rain falls sideways and so hard that you can barely see a couple feet in front of you?

I did. And, you should too.

This adventure weekend in Wales was one of the most memorable experiences in my young adult life. It not only challenged me physically but also mentally and spiritually, connecting to the environment and my friends in an entirely new way.

It all started early one Friday morning. After buying some cheap tennis shoes near Oxford Circus, I rushed to catch the midday train at Paddington Station. Four easy and quite beautiful hours later, we arrived at a small train station in Pembrokeshire, the most western area of Wales. While it was cold, there wasn’t much cloud layer and our guides quickly picked us up for our adventure weekend with Preseli Venture.

Each guide seemed to love his or her job completely. They were super friendly, helpful and excited to show us their slice of heaven in Wales.

Preslei Venture is located in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and the UK’s only coastal National Park. It is secluded and isolated, with miles and miles of unspoiled nature for adventurers to experience.

After getting settled into our room, we took showers before meeting everyone downstairs for dinner and nightly activities. The rooms and common areas were set up as if an intimate B&B met an upscale hostel, with bunk beds in the rooms and shared showers.

Dinner was a simple but hearty cream potato soup with thick white bread for dipping.  It was unlike any soup I had tasted before. As a girl from hot and humid Florida isn’t presented with hot potato soup too often, this was savory and the bread was so fluffy and tasty, that I went back for seconds and thirds. 

The anticipation for the next day’s activities had me up all night. The itinerary was filled with excursions that tested your limits and pushed your abilities. If I had known that I’d be hiking down into the water and swimming from rock to rock to climb up 30 feet to jump off again and later taking a long surf board out into the murky cold waters, I might have had more questions about what exactly I was getting myself into.

But not knowing was part of the thrill. There I was with twelve other people, some I knew really well and others I didn’t know at all, and we were all in this together.

The first real test came as we looked down at the water from 20 feet up. We had just climbed ourselves out, helping one another not slip on the rocks, and now we were all holding hands, contemplating our future.

There was a slight hesitation and chilled silence as we all took one last deep breath before simultaneously jumping off the ledge. I heard some screams, a few yells, and one big woohoos right before we plunged into the icy water. We did it.

One of the best parts about the weekend is how much freedom you are given to explore. While the guides show you how to do each excursion, they also don’t put too much pressure on you. You’re allowed to explore, even encouraged, to experience the adventure on your own. Whether it was surfing in the open water or casually walking along the coastline, unsupervised, you really feel like this weekend is yours, even if it is catered.

After taking the longest and hottest shower I can remember, I put on my thickest wool socks and got ready for a fireside dinner and s’mores.  This is when Preseli Venture really shines. It’s the simple additional treats that make this feel like more than just an adventure weekend, but more like a big family reunion and a place you’d want to return to year after year.

My adventure weekend was one of the best. I somehow pushed myself to the extreme all while still feeling like I had a relaxing and enjoyable weekend. This trip would be great for families looking to get away from iPhones and video games or couples looking to reconnect in a new environment. While Wales might be a gray and cold area, it felt warm and homey after a few days on its shore.