Duke of Edinburgh: Secret Seven on the Trail

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Our Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award pupils have been working very hard towards their final Qualifying expedition, which will take place this autumn. Having spent an intensive training weekend in the Peak District in October 2017, alongside the preparation they completed for Bronze and Silver Awards, the team were ready to conquer the Lake District.

Following a very successful training weekend with an introduction to 'Wild Country' in the Peak District in October, the team were finally ready to carry out their practice expedition in the Lake District. The Lake's proved a test of endurance; hiking 60km, passing over 3 high cols, summiting Cat Bells (451m), trekking along 4 lakes (Thirlmere, Derwent Water, Buttermere and Wast Water), all whilst being self-sufficient, carrying 4 days’ worth of kit. The team navigated their way through a variety of upland environments including heathland, forest, moorland and mountainous terrain, carrying out a variety of tasks along the way.

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Following an overnight stay at Helvellyn YHA, pupils were introduced to the wonders of wild country. The team undertook a lesson in actively risk assessing terrain in the surrounding area of Glenridding Beck; a poignant location within outdoor education. During the first day pupils familiarised themselves with the map and compass again, micro-navigating a tough first leg very successfully. Along the route pupils came across an ‘injured’ member of staff who needed some first aid, practising previously learned skills, which led to in-depth conversations about how to deal with emergencies in wild country. The pupils were very impressed by Mr Betts’ make-up skills!

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The team were put through their paces on the first overnight camp; completing an Easter-egg hunt in the dark with their headtorches, a map, compass and specific bearings to follow.  This proved to be a real test of communication, teamwork and of course micro-navigating with a compass, in tough conditions, although the resulting chocolate was much appreciated.

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After ‘bagging’ their first ‘Wainwright’, one of 214 Fells in the Lake’s, following a 400 metre height climb, the team navigated their way along an isolated, 10km-long valley, whilst being remotely supervised, to give them an understanding of just how wild the National Parks can be. The team was briefed on emergencies and how to deal with challenging situations in a pre-planned session, such as negotiating extensive footpath erosion whereby the path had been washed away. The team discovered that although DofE campsites may look basic, on closer inspection may have 5* toilet and washing facilities, as found at Syke Farm campsite in Buttermere.

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The most physically challenging days took place from Buttermere to Wasdale, whereby the team navigated and conquered the Black Sail Pass. A much appreciated and well-deserved lunch break in the Black Sail YHA enabled us to observe the weather conditions, before deciding to escape off the mountain through the Ennerdale Forest due to high winds arriving early.

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Overall, the team were put through their expeditioning paces, fully preparing them for their upcoming qualifying journey in September 2018. Well done to all team members: Ben Harvey, Teagan Jackson, Matthew Moloney, Owen Maitland-Shadwell, Molly Fisher-Newton and Theo Silk.

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Learn more about the Duke of Edinburgh Award at Bede's >