This weekend marked the start of this year’s DofE Bronze expedition season for me. Oswestry School’s DofE programme has become a regular fixture in my diary, and one to look forward to, so it was with a degree of expectancy I headed out for the weekend.
We actually spent the first half of Saturday on the school site, looking at how to put up (and take down) tents, safe use of the stoves, a kit check and sensible food options before heading out to the shops to actually by our meals for the next 36 hours.
Once out at our base for the weekend (Carrog Station Camp Site, between Llangollen and Corwen), we headed out for some navigation practice. As is often the case, there was a huge variation of previous experience in the groups. Some had received training and practice through the army cadets, while others had barely used a map in anger before. We concentrated on recognising linear features, orientating the map, hand railing, tick features, overshoot features and finished off with a bit of pacing before heading back to camp.
Dinner was an interesting experience for some. Most had listened to advice and threw descent meals together, while others decided to learn from experience instead. Food tends to be a significant psychological boost after a hard day on the hill with a fully loaded expedition rucksack. This weekend wasn’t too important, but some could do with taking note of the lessons learnt before their real expedition.
On Sunday, we headed up into the Berwyns to the south of the A5, into more complex terrain. With less in the way of paths, navigation relied more on the shape of the ground, so we were looking to develop a basic understanding of contours. This is a longer process, but we also covered attack points, bearings, aiming off as well as using more timing and pacing. Once at the top of Moel Fferna, we spent some time talking through emergency procedures, before sending the groups off on their own to find their own way back to the Carrog Station.
We actually managed to cover a lot of stuff over the 2 days, which should stand them in good stead. It will be interesting to see how they get on with their practice expedition in a fortnight!