Silver DofE Practice Expedition
On Friday 27 April, two groups set out on their three day Silver DofE practice expedition along The Ridgewar and Lambourn Downs.
Year 10s, Philippa Todd, Evie Webb, Amie Shaer and Freya Hardcastle, gave their account of the expedition:
We left school just after 9 am once reverse was found on the mini bus! It was pouring with rain, an omen for the next 3 days.
We began our planned walk at East Challow and spent the rest of the day getting wetter and wetter as the weather deteriorated. By the time we reached the Court Hill Centre, we were tired and ready to pile into the mini bus to be driven to Britchcombe Farm where we were to camp overnight.
Fortunately there was a break in the weather and we were able to pitch our tents and cook our first meal which we devoured. Sleep never happened as we were so cold and damp. But hey, we were going to put a smile on our faces and keep going!
Still raining! We were woken early by a big rooster on the farm and eventually packed up our sodden tents. We felt drained from little sleep and were dreading two more days coping with the elements!
We started walking at 9.40am, not 9am as planned and walked until 4’ish. We were on the Ridgeway much of the time and although the scenery was pretty it was so muddy underfoot. But we kept up our spirits by singing!
Once we arrived at Farncombe Farm it stopped raining and we had a pleasant evening playing cards and walking around the site.
This time it was the resident donkey that woke us at 5am. The weather was calmer and bode well for the rest of the day.
We got lost today but by walking through a field of oilseed rape, we found the right path and were able to meet the other group as planned at Honeybunch Corner.
Amie was the fittest in the group and she finished the expedition in a better physical state than the rest of us! Though the bar of chocolate we were given at the finish lifted our spirits.
As a group we decided that the best part of the expedition were the breakfasts and the worst was the weather conditions.’
Daisy Holloway, David Sawala, Callum West and Beatrice Robertson and Olivia Kielman, also in Year 10, gave an account of the practice:
We left school in awful conditions wondering whether we were going to be able to do our expedition. We were dropped off at Childrey and from there we began following our route. The slugs were out in force. Yuk!
After lunch the weather got worse and our rucksacks became heavier but we kept looking at our maps and found our way to Court Hill quite easily where we picked up the mini bus and drove the 6 miles to Britchcombe Farm where we quickly helped each other pitch the tents.
Some of us enjoyed what we cooked for supper, others did not but as we were so hungry we ate everything!
Apparently our group kept the other group awake with our incessant chatter but we think it was the rain beating down on the tents that did that. It was difficult to sleep for all of us.
After a long, wet night, we were glad to get out of our tents and prepare ourselves for the day’s expedition.
We walked from the campsite up onto the Ridgeway and then onto the Downs where we passed loads of horses by The Gallops as this is a famous area for racehorses. It was a scenic walk and we were mostly on time at checkpoints.
Once at Farncombe Farm, we were able to relax, put up our tents, cook and enjoy our last evening out in the open.
Today was a lot easier as it had stopped raining but was now cold and windy. However we got lost quite early on and had to retrace our steps to get on the right path. We had one really steep climb and managed it without much of a problem.
We went through loads of fields with sheep and their newly born lambs which was nice to see. Daisy’s infectious laugh kept us going when we were struggling.
We all had the opportunity to map read and take bearings and although we thought we would finish walking just after lunch, it was 4.20pm before we got back to the campsite after walking a circular route.
Our best part of the expedition was naming all the horses we met and the worst was our wet feet!’
Mrs Brady, D of E Coordinator, congratulated the students, “Well done to all of you for completing your expedition in awful weather conditions and never complaining”.