A hot weekend in Brecon Beacons for Gold and Silver DoE students

Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator Mr Taylor reports back after a trip to the Brecon Beacons on 13th to 17th July, when a number of students completed their Silver and Gold Qualifying Expeditions.

'The weather had been so good for several weeks - could it possibly continue for the expeditions? We set off on the last day of school with 72 students, 4 members of staff, 2 parents, one bus and a minibus. Four hours later we arrived at the campsite just as the heavens opened, soaking the silver students as they unloaded their bags. The gold students stayed dry on the bus as they were then transported to their youth hostel in Brecon. All students met their assessors, checked equipment, and looked over their routes before heading out for an orientation walk, with the sun shining once more.

Saturday morning saw all the silver groups setting off in glorious sunshine. It was a good first day. The silver groups set off in 2 different directions, as they were all walking a circular route in opposite directions over the period of the three days. One group had a shorter, undulating route whereas the other group walked a longer flat route. One campsite was at Llanthony, the site of a beautiful 10th century priory ruin that was very atmospheric and well worth a visit. The second day was an incredibly tough day for everyone. The groups swapped campsites by walking across the bottom of the Black Mountains – again not too much climbing, but it was a long way, making it a very long day for some. It was nice for all groups to have at least seen each other on the cross over. One small injury and lots of aching legs, but the students achieved it, which meant that the last day would be easier for everyone – the worst had been and gone! There was a slight concern that there was a moorland fire burning on the hills above one of the valleys, and it was causing the fire crews a few difficulties. However, the students were all very safe. Day three started with the prospect of rain showers, which spurred several groups on towards the finish where the mobile pizza van had been organised as a reward by the D of E team. Tuesday was spent preparing and presenting their expedition reports based on their aim for the journey. Everyone did very well and left Wales with their expedition section totally completed.

As for the gold groups, they did exceptionally well. Each day was fairly steady as they had shorter routes, but were gaining and losing far more altitude. They spent about 8 hours on the hills each day,  and only got caught by light showers on Monday. The final day, Tuesday, was a push as their route took them up and over Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons. They were out of camp before 6am, on top of the mountain before 9, and at the final destination by 12.30. It’s amazing how powerful the pull of the end point can be! They were collected by minibus and brought back to the main camp, and it was really lovely to see the greetings between siblings.

We were back on the coach and returned to school for 7pm. The Gold students need to complete their work by preparing their reports for presentation at a whole school assembly in September.

52 silver and 19 gold expeditions were completed successfully and the students behaved impeccably, representing the school in an exemplary manner. The assessor reports were given to the students so they could see how well they had all done, and how impressed the assessors were with the way they had dealt with their challenge.

Our unending thanks go to Mrs Spencer and Mrs Guirguis for giving up their first few days of holiday, and to Mr Leveridge and Mr Chapman for taking holiday from work to come and assist us once again. We would not have been able to run the expedition weekend without their assistance.'