Written by Year 11 student, Paiton Harrison
Today was the first day of our Silver Duke of Edinburgh practice expedition. We arrived at our start location after a long journey on the minibus. As soon as we got there, everyone jumped off the minibus, heaved their rucksacks onto their backs & prepared for the long walk ahead.
We split up into our three groups & set off walking. The sun was shining – we all felt great!
Later into the walk, my group (Courtney, Tegan, Zoiya, Jawairiya and myself) came across what can only be described as a SWAMP! Everyone was taking their time, watching each & every step – I, on the other hand, wasn’t too bothered so I went first & created a sort of path for people to follow. Little did I know that behind me, Courtney decided to practice some break dancing – and by break dancing I mean falling into the mud in a headstand! My lovely group all stopped & asked if she was okay, whilst I had no idea what was going on, so I carried on walking. Suddenly I hear everyone saying my name & telling me to turn around. As I do so, I see Courtney, point at her & let out the biggest, loudest laugh ever. Mr Mears found it hilarious! This was by far the highlight of the expedition.
Anyway, we carried on walking, taking even more care with our steps… supposedly. The next thing we know, Jawariya sinks in the mud, climbs out & leaves one of her boots behind in the ‘swamp’. Everyone burst out laughing & Mr Mears had to reach in & get it for her. Poor Jawairiya had a muddy, soggy sock for the rest of the day. The rest of the walk went fairly smoothly; we worked well together & always had smiles on our faces. We often took some breaks to take in the picturesque scenery. As we approached our camp for the first night, we were all feeling quite tired & expected to be the last to arrive at the campsite. We were, in fact, the first to arrive! Tegan, Zoiya & Jawairiya set up their tent, mostly with ease whilst me & Courtney took about half an hour to figure out where the poles went…
We woke up after a freezing cold night with little sleep & started to pack up all our things, including our tent ready to go to the next campsite. We all had some breakfast then Zoiya & I had to copy out the route onto each individual map, which were handed out to the groups. By the time we set off, it started to rain so we were all feeling a little bit under the weather. We set off however with full motivation, ready for the walk ahead. The walk was going as well as it could – we stuck perfectly to the route, stuck together as a group & were on time. We came across Mr Ashton & Mrs Hayes who checked we were okay & then we continued on our walk. We went through a little village area then came across a massively steep road that we had to climb, where Jawairiya suffered with some breathing problems. We stopped about half way up & tried to ring one of the teachers that had the school phone to ask if they could send help. Tegan got her phone out & rang the emergency number, where a woman’s voice answered. We assumed it was Mrs Hayes so Tegan put the phone on speaker & I spoke, saying “Jawairiya is having some breathing difficulties walking up the hill near the barn. Please can you send someone to come and check on her?” & then they hung up. We waited for about 20 minutes wondering why no one had arrived yet. Courtney being the clever one questioned Tegan & said: “Do you have the right emergency number?”. You’ll never guess what. Tegan had only gone & noted the wrong number down, so we basically rang a random woman where I asked her to “send help to the barn because Jawairiya can’t breathe”. Brilliant. Eventually, Mr Ashton arrived to check on Jawairiya.
We carried on to the top of the hill & stopped to have some lunch. Zoiya was preparing some tuna wraps when she asked Mr Mears for some wipes. She politely asked him not to throw them near her as it could knock her plate, so he threw them towards her bag at the side. It ended disastrously, however, because the packet of wipes bounced off her bag & onto her plate, throwing her tuna all over the grass! It was absolutely hilarious (well maybe not for Zoiya but for the rest of us it was – sorry Zoiya). We continue on our walk after lunch along one long path for miles – it seemed to go on FOREVER. We eventually reached the next checkpoint over half way of the journey & made our way towards Malham Cove. We stopped for some photos & then made our way down a really steep decline of steps. At the bottom was a path which led to the camp. Thank goodness for that! For the second time, we set up our tents, cooked dinner & got ready for bed after a long & tiresome day.
After a bit of a lie in, we all woke up & packed everything away in our rucksacks ready for our last day of walking before we went home. Today’s walk was much shorter thankfully. We all walked together as a big group which was really nice. We came across a beautiful waterfall where we all stopped for photos & then we went to visit a scar which is basically steep high cliffs. It was absolutely amazing to look at. We took some more photos & then headed back to the campsite where we loaded the minibus with our rucksacks & finally set off back home.
It was a fantastic experience that I’m sure everyone thoroughly enjoyed!
The students were an absolute credit to the Academy – they persevered through tough terrain and did it with smiles on their faces. It makes all the planning and preparation worth it when we see students engaged and enjoying themselves. (Mr Mears, Expedition leader)