The Perse School

Perse Pupils make a splash with Silver Duke of Edinburgh Expedition

16 Nov 2017

Perse Pupil Oliver Phillips, Year 11, shares his experience of the Silver Duke of Edinburgh expedition to the Norfolk broads.

Upon arriving at Sutton Broad, pupils pitched their tents in a small field nearby. Clambering into their boats, the first priority for the teams was to learn how to fall out of them. Capsizing is one of the biggest dangers on the broad and without proper guidance, a minor mistake can become deadly.

Now thoroughly soaked, pupils promptly changed and set to work cooking the first meal of the expedition on their Trangia stoves. Everyone was keen to have an early night, the next few days would be very demanding!

The focus of the second day was also on getting to grips with our boats, we journeyed down to the larger Barton Broad in a similar trip to those planned on the third and fourth days. As we paddled on the broad, the weather began to take a turn for the worse. This gave everyone an opportunity to put what they learned about wave fetch and trimming their boats into practice.

Luckily, no one capsized (though there were a few close calls!) as the pupils made their way back to camp. With the sun setting, each team planned their route from Sutton Broad to the Bureside campsite.

Fortunately, the weather was very clear on the third day and teams, with their boats now sitting significantly lower in the water, paddled off. As part of their plan, each group had set waypoints along their route. The teams were remotely supervised by the staff as they paddled through Barton Broad and the River Ant. Navigating through the twisting waterways of Norfolk, the teams enjoyed their new independence.

The route taken by each team was characterised by contorted meanders and marshy East Anglian fields. On the whole, the journey was pleasant (although the sleepy village of Irstead may have been roused on a Sunday by several groups of rowdy canoeists) and every team arrived at the Bureside campsite before dark.

The final day of the expedition took the group across another two broads,  Duck Broad and Hickling Broad. This was another chance for us all to practise trimming our boats as we propelled ourselves over the broads – every paddle bringing us a yard closer to home. Grey clouds began to gather over Hickling Broad, and the previously orderly canoeing descended into a mad race towards the final waypoint of Hickling Boatyard. Despite the many chaotic collisions between canoes, no one fell into the bone-chilling water.

One by one, canoes arrived at the boatyard. There was an almost euphoric high experienced by all of us. In a few hours, we could enjoy a bath and a proper bed (with proper sheets). We have finished our practice expedition, the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award is ripe for the taking.



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