D of E Students Face Wild Weather

D of E Students Face Wild Weather

By Mr Tim Brewis

A group of 28 Lower Sixth students and six members of staff travelled down to the Brecon Beacons for the three-day Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award practice expedition. There was an air of trepidation on the buses as we crossed the border into Wales; Cheltenham’s blue skies and dazzling April sun became a distant memory as glowering cloud stacks accumulated in the distance and the peaks of Pen y Fan and Fan y Big disappeared behind a cloak of hill fog. There was clearly some ‘interesting’ weather in the post! Trepidation turned to grim dread as we reached the start point for the expedition; a sudden and prolonged flurry of snow was driven into the windscreens of the buses by a vicious wind, which gave way eventually to a barrage of hail and then, finally, to thundering rain. The whole violent episode lasted half an hour, during which time the windows on the buses misted up as staff and students alike struggled into every item of waterproof clothing they possessed. And then the sun came out! This was the maddening meteorological pattern for the next three days, during which time the students covered approximately forty kilometres carrying on their backs everything they needed to survive in the wild. They learnt much about mountain walking and navigation, about camp craft and cooking on portable stoves, and, of course, about Welsh weather in April! Every girl and boy performed superbly, demonstrating robustness and determination, and doing their bit to make sure that their teams stayed strong. It was certainly not an easy expedition, by any means, but that made the sense of achievement and satisfaction all the more sweet when the end point hoved into view and the finish line was crossed. Next stop: Snowdonia in July for the qualifying expedition. Watch this space…

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