At the end of April, a group from Weald battled bogs, wind, rain and challenging mountainous terrain during a practice expedition for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh award.  It was a huge challenge, but they all survived intact and are looking forward to taking on the real thing later this summer.

Ella, Year 12, wrote an account of the expedition:

From the 26th- 30th of April we had the opportunity to travel to Eryri National Park, in northern Wales, for our practice Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition. Along with Knole Academy, we all travelled up to on the Friday, all in high spirits exited for the trip ahead.

On Saturday, we walked around the foothills of Mount. Snowdon working on our map reading skills, really focusing on the topography of the land to best prepare us for our real expedition, which will be in Dartmoor. Despite the majority of the landscape having recently been converted into a bog as a result of the mass amounts of rain the park had recently experienced, we all took the bog in our stride, choosing to laugh at our inability to stand up straight rather than focusing on our then very soggy shoes!

On Sunday we trekked up Snowdon with mountain expert Jake and his Labrador Jett- who was not only popular with us but also very popular with all other hikers, giving some very much needed motivation up the mountain! We took a horseshoe shaped route around the mountain, which gave us a beautiful view of the reservoir in the middle of the mountains as well as an amazing view, which we were very lucky to see with the clear weather conditions when we reached the summit, at 1085m above sea level. After a break for lunch at the summit, we travelled back down the mountain, taking a rather rural route up a further mountain (which we luckily all made it safely up and down) all feeling very proud over our achievements.

It wouldn’t have been Duke of Edinburgh without a bit of unpredictable weather, and during that night we experienced high speed winds which meant that we did wake up to a few broken tents but luckily, we had all survived the night! We then took a route independently into Betws-y-Coed to then get a celebratory pizza before another night of camping at a new campsite.

We left to travel back home on the Tuesday, all still in high spirits over the eventful past few days, putting on the minibus speakers- playing One Direction for the majority of the 8-hour journey back home! All in all, the trip was one I can highly recommend to anyone who is currently considering doing so.

Earlier this month, a group of ex-Weald students attended the Gold DofE celebration Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. The Duke of Edinburgh spoke of the amazing achievements the young people have shown to reach this moment and the time and effort that goes in behind the scenes to make DofE happen. They also heard talks from Tim Peake and a Gold DofE award receiver who shared their experience of completing the Gold DofE.

The students that achieve their Gold DofE join a select group of people who have continued on through all the challenges and persevered when the easy option would have been to stop. In two years time, our current cohort of 25 students who have just completed their practice expedition will be invited to the Garden party to receive their awards. This will be a fitting way to celebration all of the hard work and dedication they are currently putting into the Gold DofE.