Perse pupils go for gold with Duke of Edinburgh Peak District expedition
3 Nov 2017
Lower Sixth pupil Alex Carmichael shares his experience of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold practice expedition.
With backpacks filled to the brim and with excessive warm layers and copious amounts of snacks, we set off to Derbyshire for Upper Booth in the Edale Valley.
Drizzling rain threatened to make an appearance as the buses were unloaded, but fortunately the weather held and tents were set up, bags emptied of bedding and excess clothing and teams set about preparing their first proper meals on the Trangia stoves.
The second day dawned clear and slightly cool, a brisk 7.30am wake-up was kept to and a quick breakfast of instant porridge was inhaled by the students.
Navigation was the name of the game for day two, with groups going out with instructors and being set a variety of challenges, ranging from locating a position on a map to taking an exact bearing in order to stand above a train tunnel running through a hill.
Some groups were faced with individual navigation tests during the lunch break in order to check that the morning’s lessons had been absorbed, with all students successfully completing the quiz. After a pleasant descent to the campsite, the teams prepared an early dinner, leaving time for a spot of night navigation in the evening.
The night navigation was a great experience, with students learning how to cope with various catastrophic scenarios such as lost team members, broken limbs and the onset of hypothermia. Another great session completed, teams were invigorated by the clear country skies and the plethora of stars gazing down at them, eager to start the expedition.
Following a few tactical detours and a gruelling marshy mountain trail, the pupils finally arrived at the stop-over site for the night – a farm with a single open barn for shelter, some inquisitive four-legged neighbours and waterproofs that had ceased to be waterproof. It was a struggle to keep a positive attitude.
All the students worked together to help groups that came in late to put up tents and the camaraderie shown was inspiring to see. Following a smooth footpath running up past Derwent Reservoir, teams were able to make good time up the route. The tracks turned into a single path for the final eight kilometres, and after a lunch on the move, energy levels were high, with all desperate to reach the youth hostel and the luxuries associated with it.
Upon completion of the hike, there were celebrations all round on the drive from the pick-up point to the hostel, where the students could finally freshen up and spend the evening relaxing with friends. After a restful night’s sleep, the final morning was spent planning route cards for the qualifying expedition in the Brecon Beacons, which all teams completed reasonably quickly.
Finally, it was time to load up the vans and buses and embark on the journey south, back to school and civilisation.