The day after the last AS exam twelve members of the L6th headed off on their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Assessed Expedition – four days and three nights trekking across the wonderfully wild and empty heartland of Wales. We arrived at Rhayader in good time to set up camp, meet our assessor and even have a “warm-up bimble” in the dusk up to a cairn on a nearby hill, revealing great views and a wonderful sunset.
The following morning it was a real pleasure to set off two such enthusiastic groups. As they left camp there were several wistful comments about this being their last ever D of E Expedition… As was usual the first day’s walking did not prove too taxing and the rain held off, making for superb conditions with plenty of sun and a cool breeze on the tops. A secluded wild camp site proved a little lumpy and decidedly midge-infested, so the following morning saw an early start with breakfast delayed until higher ground and more air movement was gained. There then followed a serious navigational challenge. Both groups had opted to cross the Elenydd, the so called “Green Desert”- gently undulating trackless terrain with numerous bogs and very few concrete features to navigate by. However, both groups rose magnificently to the challenge and were into their campsite in good time.
Overnight the weather broke, not giving the storms threatened by the Met office, but twenty four hours of low “clagg “ and relentless rain, minimising the view to a few hundred metres at best and making the final push up to the summit of Pumlumon a rather dispiriting plod. Nonetheless, the groups once again pushed on through, looked after each other and remained as positive as humanly possible. By evening the rain had eased off so the teams were able to settle down into their final wild camp and get relatively organised before an early night.
The last day saw them complete their journey, walking back off the Pumlumon massif to pick up Glendower’s Way and finish in Staylittle.
Of the many groups I have taken for Gold, these were amongst the most positive and enthusiastic. Not only are they to be congratulated on the hard skills of navigation and camp craft, but also the way they worked as a team and looked after each other – a true credit to both the School and the Award. Many thanks to them for their excellent company, Miss Becs Gibson for helping supervise and Mr Ash St John Claire for Assessment
Dr Simon Young
Head of Outdoor Education