Edward VI Gold DofE Practice Expedition

Laura has written this blog post about a recent gold DofE Training and practice expedition.

I have worked with Edward VI School from Birmingham for the past few years for Lupine Adventure. We train the all-girl groups for two and a half days at Sconce Lane scout camp preparing them for a subsequent three day practice expedition through the Yorkshire Dales. The girls from the school are typically friendly, enthusiastic and intelligent and this time was no different. We had two groups at the camp working hard to prepare for their expeditions. Although the group I was working with weren’t very experienced, mostly direct entrants, what they lacked in experience they made up for with enthusiasm and a willingness to work hard.

We collected the girls from the train station at Shipley on Thursday lunch and ferried them to the scout camp.
Using the bunk house facilities for the next two and a half days we ran through everything from navigation, using Ilkley Moor to practice, to packing, emergency procedures, looking at appropriate food to take and buying it from the local store for their expedition.

The group showed an interest in flora and fauna, appreciating their surroundings and made friends with a caterpillar that they named Samuel along the way.

The girls also plan their practice and assessed expedition routes at the scout camp, so there is a lot to fit in over the two days.

On Sunday morning they were ready to set off over Ilkley Moor, their destination camping at Addingham Moorside. After a cloudy start the day brightened up and I met the group at the summit point on Ilkley Moor, just about to have a well earned lunch break. They were performing well and growing in confidence with their navigation. After another meeting point 4km from camp the group were in high spirits looking forward to arriving early. The last section of the route proved more challenging than anticipated, a long and testing ending, when you think you have arrived but there is field boundary after field boundary to cross. The group were just a little behind their planned arrival and feeling tired and slightly disheartened by the last part of the route. After putting the tents up stoves were quickly fired up and it wasn’t long until the team were tucking into pasta and sauce followed by Jamaica cake for dessert, feeling better about the day ahead.

The second day was beautiful and sunny with a slight, refreshing breeze, the group followed the river up through Bolton Abbey, enjoying the scenery and talking to some of the tourists who were asking them about their expedition. The second part of the day was more challenging, with a long, steady climb up onto Barden Fell and a fair distance round the moor before dropping down to Howarth Farm campsite.

The group were feeling relieved to be at camp and exhausted by the day, but after a quick collapse on the ground were soon back on their feet putting up their tents and cooking dinner.
A lovely evening with the sun lighting up the valley, allowing the farmers to work late, tractors busy in the fields, it wasn’t long until the group were tucked up in their tents ready for a 5am start. They wanted to get ahead of their route card to ensure they finished on time as they had a 4pm train to catch.

The team were ready to depart by 6:45am, motivation high to catch the train, but spirits a little low due to tiredness. They made good time on the first leg of the route walking along the river to Barden bridge, going at 4km an hour, before heading up to the Barden reservoirs.

After a slight detour the group made it to the top of Embsay moor where we had our final debrief for the expedition, the group noting their highlights, things they would do differently next time and reflecting on the past few days. It was mostly downhill then to the finish at Morrisons at Skipton to buy a well earned ice cream, before catching the train back to Birmingham.
A lovely group of girls who showed that despite lacking in experience by working together to keep morale high and persevering they could push themselves to complete the journey successfully and with good humour.

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