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In some of the worst conditions the School’s Duke of Edinburgh expeditions have seen, seekers of the Gold Award battled through a week of gale-force winds and torrential rain on their autumn trip to the Lake District.
At the beginning of the week, 31 pupils travelled by train to Keswick, where they set up camp at a relatively dry site. After a day of route planning and equipment checks, the group settled in for the night, just as the storms began.
The poor weather of Tuesday forced many groups to track south along the lake shore, avoiding their planned routes over some of the summits of the District. The universally wet feet of the pupils arrived largely on time to Stonethwaite in Borrowdale, although spirits remained high.
Wednesday looked better, with a break in the weather allowing participants to cross Stake Pass to Langdale early on in the day. Camp for the evening was a farm above Elterwater, on one of the less blustery nights of the week.
Thursday saw the groups climb steeply over the southern flanks of Helvellin before dropping down to Brotherswater. Most groups then climbed to a high wild camp at Angle Tarn, where they slept and recuperated for a solid 14 hours! Injury prevented one team from attempting the final climb of the day and they chose to camp low for the night.
The finish at Pooley Bridge beckoned on Friday, with groups moving along the west side of Ullswater, along the lake shore or high street. All participants completed the expedition – an excellent achievement in such conditions.
DofE organiser, Richard Gregory, said, “It was a pleasure to meet and chat to the pupils each day and at their campsites. That they completed the expedition with consistent good humour, rallying as teams when the going got tough, is a testament to their strengths of character.”
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