15 June 2022
Mrs Sarah Lane, Silver DofE Coordinator
Fifteen Year 10 students spent part of the half term break undertaking the challenge of their Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award practice expedition in the New Forest.
After pitching tents and having a quick lunch at their first campsite near Lyndhurst on Sunday 29 May, the students spent the afternoon orientating themselves and navigating using maps and compasses. Returning to camp in the late afternoon, the students tested their outdoor cooking skills, boiling pasta using their Trangia stoves. Despite the sunny weather, it was quite cool and a hot meal was most welcome.
After a night under canvas, the next day dawned dry and cool, with just a few spots of rain. Tents were packed away, checkpoints doublechecked and the two groups given some final guidance before setting off. The route offered amazing views of woodland, heathland and the students saw lots of New Forest ponies on their travels, many with foals. Part of the route was along an old disused railway line. One group did a good deed for the day just before reaching the second campsite, reuniting a lost dog with its very relieved owner.
After arriving at the next campsite, the students unpacked and pitched their tents again before cooking another ‘gourmet’ evening meal. The long walk had tired everyone out, so they were all ready for an early night. It was an early start again and, after breakfast, a lot of elbow grease was applied to clean all the cooking pots and pans to ensure they were returned in pristine condition. The tents were packed away and a final check of the camp was made ensuring no trace of their presence was left behind.
During the second day’s walking, the students encountered an unexpected obstacle with an underpass that they should have gone through being closed. This resulted in a rather long detour so the decision was made to change the final checkpoint to allow the groups to finish in good time. This tested the students’ map reading and route planning skills yet again and they learnt some valuable lessons about resilience and self-reliance.
The students learnt a lot from their experiences in the New Forest and they are ready for the challenge of their assessed expedition in the South Downs in July.