Duke of Edinburgh Practice Expeditions

During the weekend of Friday 5th to Sunday 7th April over 60 students embarked upon their first taste of a walking and camping expedition, following numerous planning meetings which had taken place previously in school.

The expeditions took place in and around Cannock Chase, with the ‘Silver’ Candidates having three days of walking, and camping overnight on Friday and Saturday, whilst the ‘Bronze’ Candidates had two walking days and one overnight camp.  The weather stayed fine, although it was rather cold at night!

Reflecting upon his experiences, Dilshan Arulkumaran writes:

“The D of E Programme has given me a whole new experience, and this made the recent trip even more exciting for me.  We gained experience of long distance walking, camping, map-reading and time management. Because of the training sessions before the expedition, I thought that I had mentally and physically prepared for the process but it still had its mishaps.  On the first day, my team and I arrived at the station with all our kit roughly packed.  Talking through what we had packed with the Leaders, we all realised that we had over-packed, having unnecessary (and ‘luxurious’) items in our rucksacks.  We set off thinking that the walking would be a ‘piece of cake’ but, after 2 hours, we had begun to endure the pain of holding all that weight on our backs. Pitching our tents was a relatively easy process but I realised what it’s like to live that lifestyle, with all the setting-up and preparation involved. Some problematic issues stemmed from poor teamwork at times, and others from not knowing basic life skills.  Overall, however, it was a highly rewarding trip with some fun parts and some challenging parts.  I’d totally recommend it as it is a different life experience you can have with friends.  Thanks to Ms Fisher for giving us this opportunity”. 

Gowshikan Gajadevan writes:

“On Friday 5th April, all of the Silver Expedition groups came to Penkridge Railway Station at different times between 9am and 10am. My group were the first to start our expedition and we headed off after setting our map using a compass to help us to navigate. On the first day, we walked longer than expected and, due to our lack of experience (and maybe fitness!), we slowed down after the 3rd checkpoint.  Eventually, though, we managed to make it to the campsite, thanks to the good map-readers in our group.  On the second day, we knew what to expect and, even though our instructors had warned us that Saturday was going to be a much more tiring and exhausting day, we found it more pleasant and less tiring than Friday’s hike. We even managed to have a lengthy break for some stone-skimming in a lake.  On the last day of the expedition, our walk was shorter than the previous two days, and we managed to pack our tents and stoves as quickly as possible to get an early start. We arrived at Hednesford Railway Station at around 1pm.  I found the practice expedition to be a memorable experience, even though we had to walk for at least 7 hours a day!  Finally, I would like to thank Ms Fisher for organising the expedition, and also Mr Jones and our instructors for supervising us at the campsite.  I am hoping that we will do even better as a group in our real expedition which is taking place around the Long Mynd.  We will endeavour to be more prepared!”