Gold Duke of Edinburgh Expedition - 23 to 27 June 2013

Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying 17 students to the Brecon Beacons for their Gold qualifying expedition along with Mr Flood and Mr and Mrs Taylor. As we left school on Sunday I could sense that many of the students were anxious about the challenge that lay ahead: four full days of walking carrying heavy rucksacks containing their tents, sleeping bags, clothes and food for the trip. There was certainly plenty of moaning in the minibus! We parked at a farm near to Brecon and set off for a practice walk to get our bearings and review how to use a compass. Our efforts were rewarded by trays full of pizza cooked by Mrs Taylor and her husband, followed by chocolate muffins. Not a bad start to the expedition!

Monday was the first full day of the expedition and all three groups started the day near to the Talybont reservoir. From this point each group followed a different route each day and camped at a different site. You might have thought that the main challenges would be walking 20-30km each day and not getting lost, but these students have been well trained through their Bronze and Silver awards, so they coped amazingly well. In fact Hayley was heard to say, "My compass is my new best friend!" and one group completed their route on the first day by one o'clock, only to be sent back up the highest peak in the area, Pen-y-Fan, by their assessor Mr Flood! (The next day they took a suspiciously long lunch break to avoid the same fate!) In fact, one of the biggest challenges turned out to be avoiding the midges which seemed to follow us everywhere and which were particularly keen to share our breakfasts.

Before the expedition, the students had planned their routes and booked their own campsites. When Pearse and Michael phoned one farmer to ask about camping on his farm they were told they'd be very welcome and there would be no charge. Perhaps they shouldn't have been surprised when they found that there was no toilet, no water and a field full of very inquisitive sheep ... and more midges!

By the end of Thursday, after over 80km of walking, everyone was ready to get back on the minibuses and head back to Birmingham, but first they had to perform a song which told the story of their expedition. We were thoroughly entertained by a medley of songs including "On the first day of DofE ..." and the Welsh national anthem, ably performed by Phil. A special mention must go to Molly, who completed her expedition whilst suffering from a nasty throat infection and who was determined not to give up. Congratulations to all of our students on a fantastic achievement: Sam Allan, Courtney Burley, Phil Cadogan, Scarlett Darby, Pearse Duffy, Jake Field, Ursula Hardy, Sam Hawkesford, Hayley Hunter, Michael Kenny, Daniel Knight, Molly McDonald, Josh McGinley, Kundai Musara, Chris Pakes, Keiran Snowe and Megan Tully. And finally, thank you to the staff involved and particularly to Mr Flood who organised the whole expedition.

Mrs Bell
Teacher of Modern Foreign Languages




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