Wednesday 24 May 2017

Kate Middleton tries her hand at abseiling during visit to Snowdonia

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge joined her husband Prince William as they joined in outdoor activities at a centre supporting children with mental health issues

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge ascends a climbing wall as she visits the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre on November 20, 2015 in Capel Curig, United Kingdom
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge ascends a climbing wall as she visits the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre on November 20, 2015 in Capel Curig, United Kingdom
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (L), receives flowers from three-year-old Theo Hayward, as she leaves after visiting a GISDA centre in Caernarfon, north Wales
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge abseils as she visits the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre on November 20, 2015 in Capel Curig, United Kingdom
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge prepares to abseil as she visits the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre on November 20, 2015 in Capel Curig

Gordon Rayner

Skinny jeans and a priceless sapphire and diamond engagement ring may not be the most orthodox mountaineering kit, but they did nothing to hamper the Duchess of Cambridge as she shinned up a climbing wall on a visit to an outdoor activity centre.

The Duchess first showed her instinct for climbing as a three-year-old on a family holiday to the Lake District and yesterday she showed the same poise - and the same pose – in Snowdonia, north Wales.

The Duke of Cambridge had earlier lost his footing and slipped as he climbed the same wall, but the Duchess did not put a foot wrong after deciding to stick with an easier route.

The royal couple were in north Wales for a day of engagements to highlight the work of charities helping young people with mental health issues, including the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre in the Llugwy Valley, which helps children build up their confidence.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge abseils as she visits the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre on November 20, 2015 in Capel Curig, United Kingdom
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge abseils as she visits the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre on November 20, 2015 in Capel Curig, United Kingdom

After putting on helmets, anoraks and boots, the Duke and Duchess joined children from Holyhead High School who were being taught to abseil by members of a local mountain rescue team.

The Duke, who is patron of Mountain Rescue England and Wales, went down first, with the Duchess holding his life in her hands as she belayed for him, paying out his rope as he made his way down.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge prepares to abseil as she visits the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre on November 20, 2015 in Capel Curig
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge prepares to abseil as she visits the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre on November 20, 2015 in Capel Curig

The Duke shouted up: "Are you holding me?!"

"I've got you," she laughed, adding: "I'm quite enjoying this actually. "For once I'm in control."

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge abseils as she visits the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre on November 20, 2015 in Capel Curig, United Kingdom
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge abseils as she visits the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre on November 20, 2015 in Capel Curig, United Kingdom

 As the Duchess prepared for her turn, she giggled when asked if it was her first time abseiling, and said to her instructors: "This is the Aaagghhhh moment!"

She did not hestiate, however, as she lowered herself down the 36ft slope, walking steadily backwards on the even man-made surface rather than taking it in a series of jumps.

Once at the bottom, the couple's competitive nature took over. As the Duke started climbing back up using handholds, the Duchess said: "Not that we're competitive but if he does that, then I'm having to do it too!"

The Duke slipped as he was almost half way up the more difficult section of the wall, but recovered his dignity to reach the top by the easy section.

Instructor Phil Blain, 64, said: "If that was Kate's first abseil she did fantastic. At the bottom, William tried the more difficult climb first but sadly he slipped off almost half way up as it was very wet. He was on a rope so he was fine but he chose the easier side afterwards."

Earlier, in Caernarfon, the couple visited a charity called Gisda set up in 1985 to provide support and accommodation for homeless young people in the area.

They met members of local Scout and Guide groups and the Duchess, who volunteers as a helper with the Scouts, said she intends to enrol Princess Charlotte in the Rainbows - the junior version of Brownies - and Prince George in the Cubs.

"She said that she needs to put Charlotte's name down for Rainbows," said Caernarfon's county commissioner for Girl Guides Jill Wilkinson.

"She really enjoyed helping with the scout group and said she will get George for scouting."

The Duchess made a scouting faux pas when she shook hands with Scouts using her right hand, instead of her left, as is traditional.

 Scout leader Stephen Porter, from 1st Caernarfon group, said: "She shook their hands with her right and then remembered and shook mine with her left."

Hundreds of well-wishers greeted their arrival in the royal town of Caernarfon, with the floating of giant bubbles in Castle Square in particular catching the eye of the Duke.

He told welcoming dignitaries: "I'm particularly impressed with the giant bubbles. George would be absolutely obsessed by that.

"I will have to get one of those for Christmas."

The royal couple then moved cross town to the local branch of mental health charity Mind where they viewed a photography exhibition titled "Mute: are you being heard?"

 The project by Ynys Mon and Gwynedd's local Mind organisation is designed to give young people a voice to talk about their experiences living with mental health problems. The photographs address the issues and challenges faced by young people.

The couple met James Cheffings, 19, from Bangor, who had his leg in a cast.

He said: "They were asking about how I ruined my knee cap. I was dancing in the pub and I dislocated my knee. Kate said it sounded like something William would do."

Mr Cheffings, who works as a drag queen at weekends, said he went through a difficult time at college but talking though things helped him.

He said: "I accepted that I was a gay man and now I work in an attitude free gay bar. It came across that [the Duke and Duchess] were really accepting and understanding about the whole LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community which was really nice to see that we in that community have got that support from the royal family.

 "It shows that people who are quite famous people do go to little villages like Caernarfon and little buildings like this and meet people like us who might not always get our voices heard."

Lizzie Wintle, 25, from Anglesey, showed the couple three photographs of herself on a beach exhibited alongside a written piece about her struggles with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.

She said: "I was telling them how I was being a part of this project and telling my story to try to get others to tell their story.

"Kate was asking about my photographs and what beach they were taken on. She was saying it's really important to keep talking about it and for all of us here to keep talking about it.

"I think it's really good they're focussing on a charity like this."

Telegraph.co.uk

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