Gold Duke of Edinburgh Report
By Alice Harding
I recently completed my gold DofE expedition in summer 2013 in the Yorkshire dales, which was a much more demanding environment than that of my silver expedition. Our group consisted of two girls (myself and Sammy) and four boys (Sean, George, Tony and Garav). In preparation we had planned our route on route cards, and (knowing the challenge ahead of us) had trained both physically and mentally for the expedition. We had already completed a practice expedition, so knew we had the necessary skills to complete this one. Although I was looking forward to the challenge, I was also aware of the difficulties that we would inevitable have to encounter.
We departed from the boys’ school with our extremely heavy rucksacks, which contained everything we needed to survive over the next few days. On arrival at the Yorkshire Dales, we piled out of the minibus, and after a quick brief, set off for our first campsite. Thankfully the weather was pleasant that day and we had a chance to socialise and get to know each other as we walked the first part of our journey. It was clear that we would get along; with a common goal in mind and the realisation that teamwork was of the essence. When we arrived at our campsite that evening we set up our tents and ate together, before turning in for some much needed sleep.
The next day we set off early and made good progress. Again the weather was in our favour, and we got to know how to utilise everyone’s skills in the team. We were, however, finding it hard to believe that this was only our second day, and it became apparent how it would be essential to keep up team morale. We covered a variety of terrains, and (other than a few sheep) we hardly saw another living creature. We fell into the same routine as the night before, setting up our tents and eating before crawling into our sleeping bags. We all slept like logs.
Much to our disappointment, we awoke to find that it had poured down in the night and everything was soaked! (We were later thankful that it did not rain later in the day.) This was the hardest day of all as we managed to take a wrong turn and ended up adding a bit of unnecessary mileage to our journey – we were adamant that we wouldn’t make this mistake again! Back on the right track, we arrived at our campsite that evening to discover it was not much more than a field, but it didn’t bother us too much as we were just glad of some sleep.
Waking up the next morning to the realisation that this was our last day meant that we were all in good spirits! We set off early (as we were eager to finish), and after a good day’s walking (which included being chased by a flock of sheep) we arrived at the minibus earlier than expected. We all felt very proud that we had finally completed our gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition.
Some of the good aspects of our expedition included our teamwork. Although we had only just met, we worked really well together and everyone got along. Another good point was that the weather was perfect! It didn’t rain during the day (we considered ourselves very lucky) and it was never too hot or too cold. Our pace was also very good, we walked fast and took lots of short breaks, meaning we were constantly ahead of ourselves and felt a greater sense of achievement.
Some of the not so good aspects included our rather extensive detour up a rocky river when we missed our turning, the aching shoulders due to carrying our own body weight the whole time, and getting chased by a huge flock of sheep!
Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed participating not only in gold DofE, but in bronze and silver also. I feel a great sense of achievement that I have completed all three. I would highly recommend anyone interested to take part, as we have all definitely learnt and developed from the experience.
Will Garforth received his badge in assembly during the first week of term. The pictures below are from the beginning and end of his qualifying expedition.