A RETIRED port engineer from North Wales is going up in the world again after rediscovering the joys of climbing at the age of 77.

John Marchbanks, a resident of Pendine Park’s Bryn Seiont Newydd care home in Caernarfon, was back in harness for a challenging session scaling an indoor climbing wall in the town.

John has led an adventurous life, enjoying kayaking, skiing and cycling and once crossed the English Chanel in a hot air balloon.


'It’s fine’, Bangor head told youngster he allegedly sexually abused

In his younger days John, who hails originally from Kent and lived in Amlwch before moving to Bryn Seiont Newydd, was also a keen climber and conquered cliffs and crags across Britain as well as overseas.

Staff arranged for him to renew his mountain climbing skills at the Beacon Climbing Centre on Caernarfon's Cibyn Industrial Estate.

It’s based at the former former Barcud television studio, which now houses the largest indoor climbing centre in North Wales.

Instructor Henry Giles, 25, said: "John was very keen to get going and soon showed he had lost none of the skills.

“Not only did he recognise the double-eight knot used to attach the rope to the harness but he also showed good footwork in climbing the wall.

“Climbing is much more than just upper arm strength. The legs are just as important in pushing the body up the face but climbing is like solving a puzzle.

“You need to work out the next move from handhold to handhold and where to put your feet.”

The rope was kept taut by Henry which meant John was perfectly safe and in no danger of falling.

He climbed slowly but surely up the wall before deciding to return to the ground, preferring to climb down rather than just abseil back to the bottom.

"There were no climbing walls in my day, you had to go out and find a cliff or a crag," said John.

After a short break, John moved to another wall and tried out another route which Henry said was rated at a slightly more difficult level.

Once again, he showed good footwork and posture as he made his way up the wall.

“It's something I'd love to do again," he said. 

Nia Davies Williams, who is also the musician in residence at Bryn Seiont Newydd, said they were delighted to organise the climbing session for John.

She said: "It was wonderful to see him renew his climbing skills. He is very keen to take part in all activities at Bryn Seiont Newydd.

“During the past winter, he enjoyed regular indoor cycling sessions and we are looking forward to going cycling in the outdoors when the weather warms up a little.

"Research has shown physical activity improves overall health and reduces the risk of many negative health outcomes and may be effective in improving cognition, independent functioning, and psychological health in older adults.”