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A breathtaking experience in Jersey

At the end of October, the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild held its annual AGM over a weekend in Jersey. I hadn't paid enough attention to the choice of activities and unthinkingly had volunteered for abseiling, something I'd never tried before. The only other beginner at this session was, by pure coincidence, the author of our forthcoming Settle to Carlisle Way book, Vivienne Crow.

What neither of us was prepared for was suddenly being expected to lean backwards off the 90-foot drop of the Somerset Tower of Mont Orgeuil Castle - in a high wind! To be fair, instructor John did demonstrate the friction mechanism first and told us we could control our speed by the position of our right hand. The theory seemed fine, but it didn't prevent a sharp intake of breath when I stupidly looked down before lurching backwards over the parapet.  The wall is a sheer drop, designed to daunt would-be invaders, and successfully daunting novice abseilers. Thanks to Karen Frenkel for capturing my descent:

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And thanks also to Ian Battersby for capturing the start of Viv's windswept descent. Sharing this somewhat breathtaking experience with an author was a unique first.

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Finally, here is how this impressive castle looked across Gorey harbour at sunset. From this safer distance, I looked at the sheer walls of the Somerset Tower slightly proprietorially. And I've discovered that abseiling is great fun, once you're past the parapet!

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