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National Diving and Activity Centre

National Diving and Activity Centre

National Diving and Activity Centre

National Diving and Activity Centre

National Diving and Activity Centre

National Diving and Activity Centre

National Diving and Activity Centre


Charlotte Wilson

NDAC is located in Gloucestershire, sitting prettily alongside the river Severn (no not quite the ocean Lillian) and with the Welsh accent creeping in all around, it's no surprise that this flooded quarry and activity site is fast becoming an idyllic getaway for divers and adventure-thrill seekers alike.

After a busy week at the chamber, Lil and myself headed off at Friday lunchtime from London to Chepstow. The drive was around 2 and half hours, but with the sun making a complete surprise appearance, and basking in the novelty of riding in a soft top, the picturesque countryside that surrounded our route to the site made for a great start to the weekend.

Upon arrival at NDAC, which is easily located and sits just on the outskirts of the small town of Chepstow, we were greeted by friendly staff and divers who were busy de-kitting after a long day in the water. Keen to get into our wooden wigwam where we'd be bedding down for the night we were swiftly handed our keys after a brief check in. The wigwams at NDAC are a relatively new addition to the site and provide comfortable and affordable accommodation for divers wishing to stay on site. We booked our stay online via the NDAC website and it is worth noting that these wigwams get booked up extremely quickly so make sure that you book well in advance!

Inside the wigwam there was plenty of room to sleep up to 5 adults, so with just the two of us we really were living the life of luxury and had plenty of space to throw some shapes around, you know, if the mood took us. Wooden, modern, clean and spacious on the inside with a kettle, plus tea and coffee making facilities, it made the idea that you would ever sleep in a tent again seem quite ludicrous. Once we were settled in and had located the toilet and shower block, we decided to explore the site before our day of activities began in the morning. Having expected it to rain for the duration of our stay we were exceptionally lucky that the sun was shining high in the sky, making the quarry look especially charming and tranquil. The water was extremely clear, so much so that you almost could imagine that it was a tropical temperature; something that we would discover was just an illusion come the morning...

So with an evening in the sunshine to kill and having already burnt off a considerable amount of calories walking around the quarry, we decided it was time to head the View Café and Bar and sip on some vino whilst looking out over the water. We then moved inside and had a delicious meal, everything was very good value for money and after two large steak and chips we were full with scrumptious food!

Heading back to our wigwam we noticed that other inhabitants were sitting around their campfires and socialising, almost every wigwam was full on the Friday evening and everyone was so friendly and chatty, asking about our plans to dive the next day and lending us matches and fire wood. It was a great atmosphere and we topped off the evening by roasting marshmallows on the open fire!

By 9am the next morning the site was absolutely buzzing with people and activity. We met up with Rob from Cardiff Scuba who was training a group of open water divers that weekend, and already sold on the facilities we arranged for Lil to complete her open water dives with Rob at the site. Somehow my wet and windy open water weekend at Wraysbury a few years ago didn't quite seem to cut the mustard anymore! Rob was extremely helpful and friendly and was able to provide us with everything that we needed with no hassle.

NDAC has so many underwater attractions for divers of all abilities to enjoy from the Landrover Lagoon at 7m, A BAE 146 airplane at 27M to the North Sea Marker Buoy at a colossal 76m. Plus the water is so clear that even standing on the platform I could see many of the sunken wrecks quite clearly below. This article and our constricted time at NDAC means that I cannot do justice to the absolute pleasure that it is to sink below the surface at NDAC and have a swim around, plus we did not take an underwater camera, but for an exquisite array of underwater images that give you a real tour of the sunken attractions, I would highly recommend checking out Gareth Lock's selection of photographs from NDAC.

Now as the purpose of our trip was to explore what NDAC has to offer as a complete activity site extraordinaire we had to make sure that we fitted everything in that the site had to offer. This meant kitting up and being plunged back into the water to try out Flyboarding. If you haven't already heard of, or tried, this new water sport then you really should because it is FREAKIN AWESOME! Flyboarding at NDAC is run by Big Crazy and the guys who run it are great fun, easy to get on with and make the whole experience especially worthwhile.

The basic principle of flyboarding is that you are blasted out of the water with water jets strapped to your feet; this is all safely controlled and monitored by your instructor who sits on a jet ski metres away from you at all times and administers the jet stream. This then enables you to 'fly' like a superhero above the water. We were under no illusion that this would be easy, and it wasn't, but it was a truly unique experience and even though we were exhausted after 35 minutes each on the board, we immediately wanted to sign up for round 2 after! The key to the sport is balance, and being good at keeping it, therefore surfers, skiers and snowboarders have a distinct advantage. As complete beginners and non-surfers it took us a while to find our 'jet-rocket' feet, but we were soon soaring above the water like bedraggled superhero dolphins in no time, getting up to heights of 12ft! Not bad for a beginner!

Next up was the Segway riding that we seemed to both have a natural knack for, once we'd gotten over the initial wobble and fear that we were going to face plant at every opportunity that is (it was rather enjoyable when some people did actually hit the deck though). It was a dream whizzing around the site, weaving around bemused divers, wind blowing through our hair at the heady speed of 6mph! We didn't quite make the grade in the 60 minute session to tackle the amazing specially built Segway course at the top of the quarry but we'll sure as hell be giving it our best shot next time! Our enthusiastic instructor Darren made the whole experience a scream from start to finish and we were a little bit too excited to receive our official 'Segway Licenses' at the end. Definitely a great team activity and for all age groups.

Our final activity of the day was the famed zip wire, running the length of the quarry at 700 metres in length; it is one of the longest and fastest in the UK. I am not one for suffering with a fear of heights but standing on the platform ready to be pushed off the side of a cliff at 70m in height is enough to jelly anyone's bowels...! Earlier in the day we'd seen some people getting stuck mid way along, a la Boris, but thanks to last nights steak and chips we both bombed down and came hurtling into the platform at the other end. Seeing the entire quarry from above was really breathtaking and it was just a shame that we couldn't get the camera to film the whole zip!

After a jam packed day and evening we were ready to roll on home (with the top down of course) and collapse into bed, but in all honesty we would have stayed and done it all again the next day if we could. From start to finish of our trip everyone at NDAC and the affiliated companies did everything that they could to make us feel welcome and made sure we that had everything we needed. I would highly recommend visiting the site for a weekend away with a group of friends, a work team building activity or even a family trip, as even if you want to go diving there is plenty to keep the rest of the non-divers occupied for hours on end. Plus just after our visit, newly built 'luxury' wigwams were opened with cliff top views of the quarry plus toilet and shower facilities within. Additionally we've been informed that a brand new '3G swing' is set to be installed across the top of the quarry, we're not quite sure what that entails but we do know one thing, we're going to be heading back very soon!

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