Duke of Edinburgh Gold Team Triumph at the Lake District
On Monday 10 September, our adventurous Gold Duke of Edinburgh team departed for the Lake District for a four-day expedition. Upper Sixth pupil, Ben Harvey, reports on the trip.
Over four days and three nights our Gold Duke of Edinburgh team walked over 80 kilometres, climbed numerous peaks and got soaked in downpours. Yet despite the often miserable weather, lack of ‘real’ food, and very sore feet we all arrived at the finish line with beaming smiles.
We travelled up to the Lake District early Monday morning, and after around 10 hours we got to the youth hostel we were staying at for the next two nights. We had to make our own dinner, so Molly Fisher-Newton and Teagan Jackson prepared a five-star Michelin curry and rice. This dinner proved to be the best we were going to have all week. Earlier that day, we went for a 10 kilometre hike around the area to remind ourselves of the skills that we needed to navigate around the Lake District. We took a trip into the local village for a look around and a last-minute trip to the supermarket for snacks.
Our official expedition started early Wednesday morning, as we all loaded into the bus for Ms Rowsell and Mr Betts to take use to our start point and to meet our assessor, Andy. This day proved to be the hardest, as we all had to refamiliarise ourselves with carrying everything needed for the next four days. This included clothes, all food, trangias (our cooking stove), the tents and other small bits and pieces, such as torches and wash items. The difficulty of carrying our rucksacks was emphasised by the rain and wind on the first day, not even to mention that we had to climb to the top of Stake Pass which was our highest climb of all four days. However, once we reached the top the view was well worth the climb, and was followed by arguably the best lunch of the trip.
We even had time to complete some of our project work. Our group had to come up with and complete an aim that is achievable on the expedition. We choose to recreate famous scenes from films. My highlight of the trip was watching budding thespians Theo Silk and Matthew Mologne recreate the 'You’re a wizard, Harry' moment from Harry Potter. We recreated a number of other scenes, starring myself as both Spiderman and Simba, Owen as Anaken from Star Wars, and Molly and Theo as Rose and Jack from Titanic. These attempts at acting made the journey more enjoyable and provided a lot of laughs throughout.
After putting up and taking our tents down five times, we had some sleep and woke up at 5am to start our final day of our expedition. It was wet outside due to heavy rain overnight and we all ached and were exhausted, but we were determined to finish the day. A surprise visit from Ms French at 6am, who has been our 'Duke of Edinburgh mum' for nearly five years now, put a smile on all of our faces. A few wet, cold and squashed brioches later we were all ready to complete our final day. The route itself was the easiest of the four days, being mostly flat and downhill. It did rain whilst we were having lunch, but Joachim's secret supply of chocolate and the idea of the Bede's bus being only two hours away kept us positive.
The final hour of our expedition had arrived, and we were walking at a determined pace. We had done many things to keep us in good spirits over the past four days, whether that be our 'Shalom trains', Owen’s Irish folk singing and manly 'bro' handshakes, or Joachim’s tales of his adventures in the snow with his viking brothers. Teagan certainly embraced her role as 'mum' of the group, worrying about every situation and timings, even when we were an hour early to our checkpoints. However, eventually despite her worrying, Owen’s insistent complaining of back pain and Molly’s soaking wet feet, we saw Mr Betts, Ms Rowsell and Ms French all at the finish point with our assessor Andy. We had finally completed one of the most rewarding challenges of our lives, and it felt amazing. Theo even had the energy to run towards them (something Teagan and I could not manage).
Perhaps the most fulfilling aspect of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh trip is the bonds and experience you gain through the expedition. It is physically and mentally exhausting, yet also so liberating. In a world where we are bombarded by social media, the four days of being 'phone-free' provided a good release for seven stressed teenagers. I would whole-heartedly recommend Duke of Edinburgh at any level to anyone considering it, however the Gold award is incredibly worthwhile. The fact that Bedes have two Lower Sixth teams starting Gold this September speaks volumes about Ms French and her team, and I can personally say that they are incredible in helping you achieve what I never thought I could have when I first joined Bede's.
The first ever Bede's Gold Duke of Edinburgh team, aka the 'Mr Betts fan club'