Surrey Hills: Wednesday 21st – Friday 23rd March
Despite snow and ice only 48 hours previously, the weather turned kind as 18 students set out on Wednesday afternoon for their Silver Practice expedition, bathed in spring sunshine. Spirits remained high as the three groups navigated themselves confidently from the school to night one’s campsite at Whipley Manor Farm, a route taking them around 10km. The evening was marred however by a shoulder injury, resulting in the early retirement of one participant.
For the rest, after supper, all was going well, or so they thought until their early night was interrupted as the ‘not so happy’ campers were dragged from their cosy sleeping bags to tidy the dispersal of equipment and debris left outside their tents. A lesson well learnt, as thereafter their camp craft was exemplary.
Day two started before 7:00am with everyone ‘up and at it’ with breakfast eaten, tents packed and a spotless camp cleared by 8:05am. An early and purposeful start to a long 25km hike, reaching as far North as St Martha’s church in Chilworth, for a well earned lunch and then on to Newlands Corner. Silent Pool was the next check point before the groups headed south via Shere and Gomshall and then on to camp at Farley Green for their second night.
Again, team work and good moral prevailed around camp as the evening meal was cooked, but overnight rain and gusting winds meant very little sleep was had, as several tents needed shoring up in the early hours. Bleary eyes, a few sore feet and achy limbs started out on day three for a further 20km hike around the Surrey Hills. Although the pace had slowed, smiles, high spirits and the sunshine returned in equal measure.
Returning to School in the middle of the afternoon, the usual hard lessons had been learnt in readiness for their assessed expedition in the summer. Timberland boots probably aren’t the best footwear for a 50km route march, 1½ litres of Dr Pepper isn’t on the kit list for good reason and you probably don’t need to take enough pasta to feed a third world country. Otherwise a splendid effort, hopefully enjoyed by all. Massive achievement – very well done and special thanks to Mr Money, Miss Bailey and Mr Winterbottom for their help.