The cohort embarking on their final Duke of Edinburgh’s expedition was the “doomed group” who had experienced nothing but foul weather on their Bronze, Silver and Gold Practice Expeditions. It therefore came as a bit of a surprise to them when the sun was shining on our arrival at Gigrin Farm in Rhaeadr. However normal service was resumed the following day as the rain began to fall when the groups finally got themselves on their buses to be transported to their chosen drop-off points to start their perambulation across the empty vastness of Mid-Wales.
Fortunately a recent spell of dry weather meant that the terrain was not too boggy and the rain, while heavy at times, tended to be in showers rather than falling as all day yuck. This meant that all three teams had some decent views, without the depression induced by plodding along in wall to wall clagg, and were able to dry their tents before pitching for the night. As ever, completing the four day expedition was a real challenge, calling on mental as well as physical robustness. Additionally things were made even tougher this year by the choice of wild, as opposed to valley bottom (commercial), sites for each night, meaning that the candidates were camping out on their own in the hills, away from any habitation and with no facilities other than a small folding trowel.
The experience seemed to bring out the best in the candidates, who showed real navigational skill in some very gnarly terrain. More importantly, everyone found out what they were capable of when the going got tough, packs began to get heavy, and feet sore. As is often the case there were real surprises as to who the motivators and strong characters were. Gold D of E certainly encourages one to “know thyself”.
Many congratulations to the candidates and thanks to RSG and LJJB for their help and support. Particular thanks to Mr Peter Foulkes for volunteering to be our assessor.