The Year 12 DofE Gold Practice Expedition and Year 13 DofE Gold Assessment Expedition of July 2021
Our Gold qualifying expedition took us to North Wales (Snowdownia National Park) – a very different area from our practice expedition where we walked around Hertfordshire and went home over night!
We camped for 4 nights and walked for 4 days, and in this time, we climbed two mountains (Moel Siabod and Moel Meirch). Although climbing these mountains was a challenge, we still had a great time and ended each day with a high sense of achievement. The terrain was pretty uneven meaning we had to scramble down a lot of hills, this made for a good laugh watching each other fall over with 18kg bags on our backs!
Despite the soggy wet boots and being eaten alive by midges, we had a great few days and brought back many funny memories – one particularly funny moment was when a Lola got stuck in a bog.
Our favourite night was the wild camp (we camped next to Llynau Diwaunydd) with not a single person in sight! We washed up, brushed our teeth and got water from the streams nearby.
Overall, it was an extremely rewarding and enjoyable expedition.
Francesca Holmes – Year 13 – Gold Qualifier
The qualifying expedition for my Gold Duke of Edinburgh was a great experience in the mountains and valleys of the Snowdonia’s National Park. We got the opportunity to climb up Moel Siabod on the first day with the stunning views of sheep on the opposite mountains, the sea, our previous campsite and our wild camp for that night. The weather was not ideal with rain most days, making for lots of mud and bogs that we all slipped on or into. The walks were very hard and included clambering up and down rocks and jumping across rivers, but singing, food and lots of dogs we saw on the way kept us going. It was such an enjoyable, yet tiring week and I cannot wait to go to the palace to collect my final award alongside everyone else.
Rebecca Davies – Year 13 – Gold Qualifier
My Duke of Edinburgh experience was quite different from most people’s. Unlike pretty much everyone else in our group, I haven’t done the Bronze or the Silver levels but I don’t regret my decision to do Gold.
My lack of experience meant that the expedition environment was completely new to me. I’m not a particularly outdoorsy person so partaking in this was outside of my comfort zone. The first two days were rather difficult for me mainly because I’m not a generally active person and therefore spending 8 hours a day walking was both mentally and physically exhausting. My fear of heights didn’t particularly help the situation however I had an amazing group of friends there to cheer me on and help me get through the hard times. By the third day my group and I had figured out a system to ensure that everyone was going at the same pace and that no one was being left behind. We also had much better navigation skills at this point which made it a lot easier to get through.
In my opinion, the worst part of the trip was having to trek through deep marshland in the rain and having to walk in soaking wet socks for the rest of the day. However, the best part was definitely the last night when my group and I shared dinner whilst wild camping remotely next to a stunning lake in the valley.
By the end of the trip, I had learnt so much about myself and grown closer with those in my group. I now feel much more prepared for our assessment expedition in October.
Wunzouya Abass – Year 12
The whole DofE experience for me was completely different from anything I have ever done before in the best possible way. I got to talk to people that I would never usually talk to, make so many new friends and I think we all felt so supported by everyone that was involved. Even though it was hard work, it was always a good feeling when we got to the finish each day, and although it was only the practice, it felt like a real achievement. We were all SO proud of ourselves at the end! It was amazing to have a group as supportive as the one that I was in and it really made the whole thing so much better. Despite my tick (!), I had such a great time and I can’t wait for the real thing in October.
Rebecca Sheffield – Year 12
Gold DofE was such a great experience for me. It gave me a chance to meet people in my year group that I wouldn’t otherwise have met, to escape the stresses of normal life for a few days. Most of all, I miss waking up at the foot of mountains and spending the day exploring Snowdonia with good people.
Teddy Anderson – Year 12
The DofE Silver Practice Expedition of July 2021
Last weekend, fifty participants from Presdales completed the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Practice Expedition in the Chiltern Hills. We started on Friday morning with our leaders, who helped to guide us through the first day. It was really nice to spend time with everyone and we worked together to navigate our way to the first campsite. The first evening was beautiful as the campsite overlooked a lake which we dipped our feet into and sat watching boats sail past after an intense game of rounders! We put up our tents, cooked our dinner and played more games together whilst the sun set.
We woke up early on Saturday morning, as it was very hot, and everyone wanted to leave early. After packing up our tents, we started our journey to the next campsite. It took my group around 10 hours, after taking lots of breaks and enjoying our lunch in a shady field. It was an amazing experience to be able to discover areas we never knew existed and see wild animals up close. The second campsite was equally beautiful, and we had campfires where we roasted marshmallows, listened to music and stargazed.
We all woke up early on Sunday as it was very hot, so wanted to set off early. Although everyone was tired, we were all looking forward to making it to the end location and achieving our Silver Practice. It was amazing at the end to know we had worked so hard as a group and achieved it. Over the weekend, we walked a total of 70km. I honestly enjoyed every moment of the three days, spending time with my friends outside of school and doing something we would never get the opportunity to usually do was something we will all never forget.
On behalf of everyone, thank you to Miss Haywood, Mr Bedwell, Miss Stitson and BXM expeditions for making our Silver DofE such an incredible experience!
Molly Barnard – Year 10
Going into the Silver Expedition without doing the Bronze DofE level previously, I had little idea of what to expect from the trip. So, when I encountered sweltering weather and sore feet, I was so glad I had a great group of girls to help me get through it! This meant I was able to make many unforgettable memories along the 45-mile trek and push my boundaries further than I thought I could. The expedition provided me with so many opportunities to learn new things that aren’t easy to come across nowadays such as finding your own way with only a map and a compass, navigating your surroundings and extending my teamwork skills. Being able to make so many new friends in the short space of three days, the tough moments and the seemingly never-ending hills only made us closer. From toasting marshmallows to the scenic countryside views throughout the trip, I love looking back on the memories we’ve made.
Jessica Scott – Year 10