The Inuit of Greenland are falsely held to have dozens of different words for “snow” – in fact they don’t. We British on the other hand seem to have an equally implausible number of ways of describing rain. During the four day qualifying expedition from Rhaeader to Staylittle, across the Elan watershed and the green desert (or as we encountered it – green bog) of the Elenedd, every single one of these subtly nuanced gradations had an opportunity to be employed, often with a few choice Anglo-Saxon prefixes. In short it rained – a lot.
We had three groups out on the ground, all making their way by different routes to shared camps each night. Often these were in beautifully remote wild spots, miles from anywhere in particular. The participants were fortunate, in that for the most part the weather held off while they were pitching each evening and packing up again in the morning. This was clearly a good thing but it tended to encourage dense clouds of midges to come out and play… silver linings were in short supply.
This was a very tough expedition, across some remote, pathless terrain, which the damp weather made even more challenging. All the groups coped incredibly well, maintaining a positive mental attitude throughout, even when the going got tough and lesser mortals might have been tempted to throw in the towel (had a dry one been to hand). It was great to see the groups gel as teams and look out for each other, taking weight from those who were struggling and rallying round to help pitch tents and get a brew on for the last group in each evening. All the participants are to be warmly congratulated on coping so positively with such difficult conditions, which made the navigation, the terrain and comfort so difficult. I suspect that many of them will not be venturing forth into the hills for quite a while, but I do hope that they will transfer what they have learnt about coping with adversity to all aspects of their future lives.
As ever a huge debt of thanks is owed to Ash St John Claire, our assessor, as well as Becs Gibson and Mark Jenkins who joined me as supervisors. I hope that by now everyone has managed to wring out their socks and is looking forward to their next adventure. May this be blessed with some well-deserved sunshine.
Head of Outdoor Education