23 June 2016

DofE Gold Brecon Beacons practice expedition

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Having woken up early on the first day of May half term, a group of around 40 students embarked towards Wales for our practice hiking Gold Expedition. With some minor traffic setbacks, we arrived in the afternoon and began to set up camp for the first night. Spirits remained high as the sun shone, and small routes were completed to acclimatise ourselves.

With blue skies on the second day, we headed off with our supervisors to be tested on our map reading, group dynamic and other essential skills. Once we reached camp in the evening, we soon realised that this was when our real expedition would begin, as the next day we would be walking our pre-planned routes with our full rucksacks. Despite the long routes which contained substantial climbs, the Brecon Beacons provided breathtaking views and scenery throughout the entire three days of walking that we simply couldn’t experience in Kent. We were also very fortunate with the weather, with only the last day being slightly overcast. Luckily for us suntans became a more common occurrence than soaking wet kit!

That is not to say there were no challenges. Having walked up Pen-y-Fan, the highest peak in South Wales, we quickly found the wind was pushing us sideways and our heavy rucksacks certainly weren’t helping us. Furthermore chasing after a map across a valley after someone dropped it while walking downhill was also probably not one our group’s finest moments!

Having completed the expedition, each member of my group felt proud of the achievements we had been able to accomplish, overcoming physical and mental challenges that presented themselves along the way. We now look forward to completing the Qualifying Expedition in the Lake District at the end of the term (and are praying for a repeat of the good weather!).

Holly MacAskill

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