My Gold Duke of Edinburgh Expedition Experience!
Zosia, Year 13, shares her experience preparing for and completing her Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition this summer.
Our practice Duke of Edinburgh expedition consisted of 5 days and 4 nights in the Yorkshire Dales. Despite being exhausted after Sports Day and a 6-hour bus journey, we were very excited to see what we were in for. During the practice, we walked approximately 17 kilometres each day, which we discovered to be a large physical strain, especially due to the heaviness of our bags. To overcome this, for our qualifying expedition, we packed more strategically, bringing fewer things, and distributed the weight more evenly between the five of us. The practice was not only a means of discovering areas which needed improvement for the qualifying expedition, but also an opportunity to get a flavour of the future and to mentally prepare us for what was yet to come.
The first day of the qualifier was a pleasant beginning to our journey; although we were faced with rain and difficult terrain, we worked as a team to support each other while crossing slippery streams and fallen trees.
While this experience was extremely uplifting, on the second day we were faced with the reality of sleeping in the wilderness. After a rainy night, we woke up to find that our tent had leaked, and our bags and clothing were all wet. Since it was still raining when we were leaving the campsite, we had to pack everything in the cold and harsh conditions. We sang our way through the hills of the day as an attempt to keep motivation high, especially during moments when we got lost and were trying to calm our frustration, and arrived at the next campsite early to allow our things to dry.
The third day was quite a challenge after the difficulties of the second day. Once again, we woke up to the sound of the rain. However, this time we had planned ahead and although the tent had leaked again, the night before we had put waterproof covers around our bags, so our things remained mostly dry. We set off early in the morning and tried to find the motivation which we had lost the day before. We chatted and sang, which was immensely helpful, as well as stopping to admire the beautiful views. On the third day, we were much more careful when it came to our navigation and discussed our whereabouts before making any decision which allowed us to feel confident in our choices and brought us together as a team. Whenever anyone was feeling down, we got together to support them and reassure them of our future success. What truly lifted our spirits, in my opinion, was the lunch break that day. It was one of my favourite parts of the expedition as we picked the most comfortable spot with a beautiful view, and got to explore the abandoned ruins of a house. We also had a dance break, which created a very optimistic atmosphere and allowed us to continue the day with newfound energy which we all desperately needed.
The last day of the expedition was a very positive ending to our qualification, with our improved navigation skills, we quickly rediscovered our route when getting lost. However, we did have a run-in with a local birdwatcher who was upset at the disturbance, but many apologies later, the man pointed us in the direction of a beautiful canal which we then had the opportunity to walk along. After getting through many stinging nettles, we reached our desired destination of ancient castle ruins and completed our expedition with this fascinating view still in mind.
The Duke of Edinburgh experience allowed us to learn a lot about ourselves and each other; we discovered our physical capabilities and perseverance, as well as the importance of teamwork and the power of music. I think we would all agree that the expedition was, without a doubt, incredibly difficult both physically and mentally. However, it was an irreplaceable experience, and we made so many incredible memories as friends which we will cherish forever.
Zosia, and the other pupils who completed their Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition, presented their achievement in Senior Assembly.