Clarts, crags and cuckoo calls on the DofE Silver practice expedition

Friday 19 May 2023

Last week saw over 30 of our Year 10 students head out to Hadrian’s Wall for their Silver DofE practice expedition.

Recent rains meant that everyone was up to their knees in clarts within the first ten minutes, as groups climbed up on to Winshields Crags on Thursday morning.  It was a glorious morning for walking though and, as groups headed west along the Whin Sill, the call of the skylark could be heard overhead and the persistent call of the cuckoo came from the wood below.  

Thursday was a day of intensive navigation training with students learning to estimate distance, orientate their map, follow a handrail and walk on a bearing, amongst other skills.  Everyone managed to arrive back in camp on schedule to set up tents and set to with Trangias to rustle up tea.  After preparing maps for the next day, we took the opportunity to waterproof all the tents, much of which ended up being done by torchlight.

Friday saw groups given more freedom as they shouldered their full packs for the first time and groups set out on various ten-mile routes.  There was some great teamwork late in the day as those who were strong shared the burden of those who were flagging, and once again everyone did well to return to camp pretty much on time.

There was much to do in preparation for Saturday, but students were now showing much more efficiency in their camp craft, and it was good for them to get an early night.  Saturday brought with it the sun and, as groups set off to walk independently from staff, short sleeves became the order of the day.  It was fantastic to see everyone using their navigation skills to stay on track, and students enjoyed the freedom and independence of walking on their own.

All routes led to Haydon Bridge station and, as groups began to arrive, the platform was soon turned into a mass drying area for tents, whilst the nearby shop saw a rapid rise in the sale of ice pops!  Well done to all those who participated!  Now the planning for July’s assessed expeditions begins in earnest.