On a spring-like Sunday morning several intrepid groups of Lower Fifth met up at the OEC, supposedly ready to embark upon their practice expedition. Once the traditional chuck out of un-necessary kit was accomplished and the participants were persuaded that the staff did in fact know what they were talking about and that it was possible to get everything inside the rucksack, everyone set off in different directions following something of a shot gun start. The first day’s walking proved challenging for many, as the packs seemed to get heavier and the ground underfoot muddier, but everyone made it into our first campsite at Whipley Manor in good time, just before dusk.
Monday dawned bright and crisp, with the threatened cloud holding off until the groups were well underway walking over Blackheath and up onto St Martha’s. By then the views were largely obscured and most of us decided that waterproofs were probably a good idea. However, we were in luck and nothing more serious than a little drizzle materialized over the course of the evening.
Tuesday saw a chilly start, courtesy of the now clear sky and all the groups were able to set off briskly with lighter loads and the scent of home in their nostrils as they traversed Winterfold by a variety of routes, before dropping back down into School. The sunny condition helped make post-expedition admin much easier, with all the tents dried and put away in record time.
This was a very easy going expedition; everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, despite a few sore backs and hamstrings. The groups worked well as teams and appeared to be learning from each other as well as the support staff as the trip progressed, with several pointers taken on board in preparation for the New Forest assessed expedition in the Summer term. There was even time for some chat among the bird-nerds about the buzzards and possible red kites that were spotted. All in all this was a pleasantly relaxing trip for which thanks are due to all the groups as well as the invaluable assistance of the supervising staff: Gordon Bryant, Steve Pigeon, Linda Baily, Becs Gibson, and Gemma Bukowska.
Dr Simon Young
Head of Outdoor Education