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In the penultimate week of the summer holidays, thirty-eight Upper Sixth pupils headed to the Lake District for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh assessed expedition, feeling full of confidence after a successful practice in June.
The routes covered a vast array of terrain; from flat wooded river valleys to exposed barren hills. The five days and four nights consisted of walking from campsite to campsite, pitching tents and cooking meals to fuel the exertion.
Daniel Alexander (now Upper Sixth, Surrey) said: ‘Physically, the week was demanding for all involved as routes often included climbing punishing hills and covering long distances. Rydall Fell, Grasmere Common and the peak of Cat Bells were but three of the physical challenges which confronted us throughout the expedition.’
Heavy rainfall and battering winds made the week incredibly challenging, but pupils put on a show of perseverance and teamwork. On the final night, an exposed wild campsite coupled with storm level gusts resulted in a long, restless night for some as collapsed tents and snapped poles forced multiple re-pitching of tents. This pushed the groups to their psychological limits and meant that the following afternoon, when the final destination had been reached, there was a great sense of achievement for all those involved.
Despite the challenges of the expedition, the commitment required to meet the criteria of volunteering and dedication to a physical activity, the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award was thoroughly worth doing and undoubtedly developed the character of the participants.
Head of Outdoor Pursuits at St John’s Ainsley Rawlings commented: ‘The Assessors were impressed with the teamwork and camaraderie of the group throughout the week. They all pitched in together to ensure that all were warm, safe and able to complete their final day in the mountains and successfully complete the expedition.’
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