Saint Aidan's News

The Duke of Edinburgh Expedition

Two students report on their experience during the DofE expedition.

Joe McNally

When preparing for my DofE expedition, I had one long training session at school on a Saturday which covered multiple areas for the expedition such as the 20 conditions to pass the expedition, how to pack a bag effectively, how to pitch a tent, how to plan for a meal and how to cook using a Trangia. After a successful training day, I felt prepared for my practice expedition.

The practice expedition was a lot easier than the qualifying expedition. Our practice expedition was in Chorley at Bibby’s Farm. In the practice, we were taught how to map read and orientate the map. On the first day, we set up the tent as soon as we arrived. This meant that we didn’t have to carry the tent with us when we went walking on the first day. We managed, after a long walk, to successfully reach the spot where we would eat lunch.

After walking through fields in the rain for most of the morning we were already fed up and aching and didn’t want to continue any further. After a well-deserved rest, we set off again for the second half of our journey on day one. By this point we were tired and hungry so it took us a while to get back due to stopping a lot to rest and recover. On our way back, we saw a few animals and had an encounter with a horse and plenty of sheep! When we finally got back to the campsite we cooked and ate our food which was pasta and sauce. We also had some leisure time before we went to sleep.

On the second day of the practice, we didn’t want to walk but managed to cross a river and climb up a steep hill to eat lunch. The weather was better than the first day. We then returned by a quicker route to get back in time for pick up. The day was extremely tiring and I couldn’t wait to get back and sleep in my comfy bed instead of on the ground in the tent.

The qualifying expedition was an experience to say the least. There was a heat wave on the weekend that we went out giving people sunburn and causing a lot of discomfort. It wasn’t easy and we got lost multiple times. We had a lot more hills to climb and the maps seemed to be outdated. After getting lost too many times to count, we finally made it to the campsite, hungry and hot.

After a good night’s rest, we set off on our second day and we got lost again but not as much on the first day! It was still extremely hot and when we got lost we felt like giving up. Luckily one of the instructors found us in the middle of a field and escorted us back to the final checkpoint. Other than getting lost, it was a great experience and certainly worth doing.

Charlotte Rossall

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, also known as DofE, is a youth achievement award which pushes young people in different challenging areas and helps enhance a CV. The award has 4 different sections: physical, volunteering, skill and expedition. To complete the award you must choose two activities to do for three months, one for 6 months. As well as this you have to plan, train and complete an expedition.

On the training day at school, we were taught how to put up a tent, map read and to use equipment to cook our food. The session was key to preparing us for our expedition and helped us with our basic camping skills.

On the 20th May, the Year 10 students taking part in DofE headed to Bibby’s Farm for the practice expedition. It was not for the faint hearted! After putting our tents up in groups, we then set off with an instructor for a walk through the countryside. The day progressed and our rucksacks began to feel heavier and the rain more incessant; we were more than ready to get back to camp! Finally, we could sit down and prepare our evening meal of pasta and sauce. So far we had learnt that map reading is not as simple as it seems and that the expedition was not going to be easy.

The second day started with taking the tents down, a quick hot chocolate and a group of tired, aching teenagers traipsing across a field away from the campsite. Although the day was hard, we all felt proud and accomplished and definitely more educated in camping and finding our way through the fields of Chorley. Many of us had learnt the hard way that DofE does not require our entire wardrobe, but also to make sure that we have enough layers to keep warm.

On the 17th June, the participants of the award made their way to Chipping for our expedition, the final stage of our Duke of Edinburgh. We started off with a nice walk through the village, then straight into a field of over-friendly cows. You have never seen 6 girls with rucksacks run so fast! Once we were past the field the day continued with more walking; much more walking, plenty of breaks (even a few breakdowns!)

The day ended positively with food, laughs and a competitive game of volleyball. The next day we woke up to glorious sunshine – and Mr Eccles with a pan and spoon. We continued our walking for the rest of the day; after we made it over a hill the size of Mount Everest, the end was in sight and we had completed our expedition!

My group, “Where’s the Hotel” had the aim of discovering the psychology of Duke of Edinburgh. Throughout the expedition we rated our mood from -10 to 10. We discovered that as the day went on, people’s moods decreased and after food, our moods increased.

Looking back on my experience it was extremely worthwhile and may open up a lot of doors for me in the future. Although it was not easy, I feel a sense of accomplishment and will hopefully go on to complete my silver and gold awards.