Lower Sixth battle the elements on Gold DofE practice expedition in the Black Mountains

Lower Sixth battle the elements on Gold DofE practice expedition in the Black Mountains

25 April 2023

Dr Jessica Dixon, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Manager

At the start of the Easter holidays, 16 Lower Sixth students undertook a four-day self-sufficient practice expedition in the Black Mountains in Wales for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I was extremely impressed with how they coped with difficult weather conditions on the first full day and maintained a positive outlook throughout the expedition, despite tiredness and some sore feet. They now look forward to completing their qualifying expedition in July, hopefully in better weather conditions.

Ava D, Lower Sixth

Our Gold DofE practice expedition was probably one of the strangest, yet most exciting, situations I’ve experienced. To be brutally honest, there were times when I wished I could be at home in my bed instead of on top of a mountain with the wind pushing us from side to side and fog closing in around our group. But I think that struggle is the essence of any journey worth taking (and it certainly was for my group). Yes, the weather wasn’t on our side, but we used that to make memories. We built bonds that were strengthened by our joint suffering at the hands of the ruthless elements; sang songs at the top of our lungs to overcome our tiredness from the day; formed a unit when cooking together; and chatted the night away in our tents.

I think my favourite moment of all was when, after the most draining day of the whole expedition, my group got to the beautiful campsite and sat in the sun to just chat and rest for a while. We even took a short additional walk around the ancient priory that was nearby. Our practice expedition helped me gain practical skills but it also gave me lifelong memories like that, which I’m sure I’ll cherish forever.

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