Highs & lows for Sixth Form trekkers
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is one of the core co-curricular opportunities on offer in the Sixth Form. Here our intrepid Year 13 Gold Award candidates describe their challenging but successful experience of an expedition in the Brecon Beacons:-
“In the first week of half term, seven Year 13 students traveled to the Brecon Beacons for the second time in two months, for our Duke of Edinburgh Gold award. Our practice expedition in August lasted three days and two nights under canvas, and we were blessed with continual sunshine for all three days. Temperatures soared above 25°C every day, resulting in many prolonged breaks sitting with our feet in streams, and relaxed evenings watching the sunset.
“We were not quite as lucky the second time around – we were the last group of the expedition season due to the low temperatures in the area. Whilst the cold made the days more manageable and shortened our walking time (because whenever we sat to break we were cold within a few minutes!), the evenings became almost unbearable. Temperatures reached below freezing every night, and we were consequently all in our sleeping bags and fast asleep by 8 o’clock each evening! This second walk was four days and three nights under canvas.
“Each evening we were rewarded by a sky full of stars, and waking up at 5 o’clock each morning we were greeted with amazing sun rises. Across the two trips, we walked over 200km and crossed terrain from muddy bogs to reservoirs to steep climbs up the famous beacons. Each night and morning we were required to put up our tents, cook our meals with a Trangia, and find some way to make ourselves feel a little cleaner. We each carried all our provisions for the trip in our rucksacks; logic dictates that as you eat your food your bag should become lighter, but each day it certainly felt like they had got heavier!
“It’s not easy to keep up morale when you are freezing cold and exhausted, but it’s certainly very easy to have arguments about the most insignificant of things when you spend such an intense amount of time with such a small group of people. However, we were luckily enough to have a lovely group, and the distribution of tasks and constant joking make the experience much more bearable. I doubt any of us ever plan to eat ‘boil in the bag’ meals or ‘mugshots’ again, and we certainly plan on always using campsites with shower provisions in the future!
“And now, all we need to wait for is our invitation from the Palace to receive our certificates from the Duke himself…!”