DofE Practice Expedition

After a productive weekend of training a fortnight ago, this weekend was an opportunity for the candidates from Oswestry School to undergo their Bronze DofE practice expedition to put their new found skills into action.

Once all the necessary kit checks were done, we dropped the three walking groups off at the Ponderosa Cafe, on the Horseshoe Pass above Llangollen. Each group had planned their own routes to get them in to their camp site at Carrog Station, and each headed off in various directions with varying degrees of enthusiasm at the weight of their expedition rucksacks. However, although there were a few minor diversions along the way, each group made it in to camp, having learnt a few lessons along the way and grown in confidence.

Getting organised at the camp site
Getting organised at the camp site

It was great to see the attitude of co-operation and pulling together. It was particularly noticeable when the last group arrived a bit behind schedule, and the others pitched in to help get tents up and start cooking dinner on the stoves. I don’t know whether it was because they were particularly tired, but they settled down in their tents without prompting, which isn’t that common at this stage while camping is still a relatively novel cause excitement.

Although it was a chilly start to day 2, the sun soon took the edge off the cold and started to dry the tents out. Having worked out how long they predicted it would take them to complete today’s route, the groups decided upon a fairly early start, and I was surprised to see them up and about as early as planned, and ready to leave on time or even earlier.

Enjoying the experience as a team
Enjoying the experience as a team

Having given the groups an hour’s head start, I opted to walk the route behind them, in the hope if picking up any struggling groups. As I was powering up through the woods towards the top of Moel Fferna, I thought for a while that I’d heard voices in the trees off to my right. However, after a few minutes of listening to the birds going for it on a sunny morning, I figured it must have been my imagination. First, I caught up with the 3rd group to leave the camp site who where making good progress, working well together and enjoying the day. Next, I passed the first group to leave, who where a bit surprised as a ran passed them. Where where the second group? – in the woods!

Once back on track, they were away and going strong. Towards the end, two of the groups decided to take a short cut across some steep ground covered in heather and bracken, which proved quite demanding (especially with expedition rucksacks on) – another lesson to learn?

All in all, I was really pleased with how well all three groups did. It’s not easy staying focused all day, and the consequences of getting the map reading wrong can be pretty depressing when it’s as hot and tiring as it was today. Well done everyone. Take some time to think about changes you’d make for your assessment next month!

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