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St Thomas Aquinas

Year 6 Transition

Gold DofE Expedition – Dark Peaks – September 2019

On Saturday, 28th September our Gold Duke of Edinburgh students headed off to the wilds of the Dark Peaks to commence their final Practice Expedition.

As the students stepped out of the minibus by Saddleworth Moor, they were greeted by 40mph wind and rain coming at them horizontally. This however, did not deter our Year 13 students who made their way through muddy bogs and around swollen rivers with only a map and compass to guide them.

By midday, the appalling weather got worse as the mist came down restricting the students’ visibility to only 50 metres. Whilst most people would have given up by now the groups ploughed on making great use of their navigational skills to reach the trig point at the summit of Black Hill – a true master-class in compass work!!

With muddy boots and sodden clothing the group made their way to their first campsite. There they pitched tents and got the trangias out to cook. It was nice to see that some students even brought their own fuel to help cook – might be an idea to have enough fuel to help cook all of their food for the qualification.

The next day saw no respite in the weather, and it rained (bucketed down) all day. The groups summited Bleaklow before making their way through the Snake Pass and began to make good headway with speeds of 4-5 KPH along the Penine Way.

Arriving at their second campsite at Hayfield the groups, made full use of the drying room, albeit just to make their bedding/clothing a kind of ‘warm dampness’. With shelter for cooking the groups got straight in cooking and noodles were abound.

As the group arose on the Monday morning there was an uncanny deafness, their tents were not being pounded by rain but instead sunshine. By 8am the groups had packed, eaten and were ready to go. On their last day, the groups walk on their own to challenge themselves without staff to fall back on. Where, in the past, we have had to pull groups out due to poor navigational choices or fitness, both groups flew through their routes getting to their final destination by 4pm.

I must say in all the years that I have led on Gold DofE, I have never been so impressed by the students’ efforts in overcoming such weather with superb navigation – well done to you all. Thanks also to Mr Saunderson and Mr Hall for their support across the weekend, your effort is much appreciated.

Mr Flood
Head of Sixth Form