Year 9 pupil wins Outdoor Pursuits writing competition
22 Apr 2014
Our congratulations go to Year 9 pupil, George Cliff, who is this month’s winner of The Perse’s Outdoor Pursuits Department ‘Inspiring Trails’ writing competition. This monthly competition is run by our Outdoor Pursuits Department, and aims to encourage more pupils to venture out into the great outdoors, by sharing their experiences. George’s account entitled Snow, Chicken Casserole and The Devil’s Bridge was praised by the judges of the competition as “a real insight into the ups and downs of outdoor adventure … [it] gives a great impression of how all expeditions encounter problems and shows that improvisation and flexibility are key to success”.
We hope you enjoy reading George’s account below.
“I was greatly looking forward to this trip as it was the first ever Canoe Club trip and it was great to be one of the first. When I got up that morning I did the normal Outdoor Pursuits morning routine which is get up, have a shower, have a good breakfast and check everything is packed. When I got to school I helped pack the holdalls onto the minibus and check the canoes. The journey was calm with no one being sick although there was a close call with one of us (not me luckily).
When we finally arrived it was great to see that we were staying in a camping barn, and not a tent as it was pretty cold. On the first afternoon we did all the maintenance of the canoes and put in new flotation blocks. I learnt a couple of new knots. For dinner that night we were planning to have a roast but the gas cut out halfway through cooking so it turned into a chicken casserole with gravy. It was the best casserole I have had on an Outdoor Pursuits trip! That night we all curled up into our sleeping bags and slept on our seven man sleeping platform, also known as ‘The Pit’.
The next morning I felt a cool breeze and realized that someone had left the window open. On trying to close it we realised it had been snowing, here were we thinking it was spring! The window was closed rapidly and we all decided it was better to stay in our sleeping bags. During breakfast there were many conversations and much hype about the day ahead. Many of us hadn’t paddled in the snow before. After breakfast we packed the minibus, built a mini snowman which sadly got destroyed during a snowball fight, and we set off.
We were planning to go to Lake Windermere that day but a lorry had over-turned due to the snow, so whilst we planned what to do we had another snowball fight which was great fun. With great adaption and some re-routing we headed off to Devil’s Bridge on the river Lune to find some moving water. Here we practised breaking in and out of eddies which I enjoyed a lot (an eddy being part of a river in which the current is reversed and a canoeist can seek safety or a rest). Following a nice break with a great cup of hot chocolate we went a bit further upstream and practised white water canoeing, which was exhilarating. To end the day we played a game where we tied two canoes together and tried to keep the supersized tennis balls away from the leaders who were in solo boats. That night we had spaghetti bolognese which was very tasty.
For the final day of the trip we went back to The River Lune and journeyed down it which was very interesting. I saw lots of wildlife such as big flocks of birds and a huge shoal of tiny fish. We watched them trying to swim upstream, and I even caught a glimpse of a big fish about 60cm long. The journey home had a lot more travel sickness close calls than the first one but it was sad to say goodbye to the Yorkshire Dales as I enjoyed the trip very much. I look forward to what the Canoe Club will do next.”