DofE Qualifying Expedition: My Experience

DofE Y10

At the start of October, Year 10s completed their Duke of Edinburgh expedition. Here, Paige Cawley recounts her experience.

The weekend of adventure started at Ashridge Estate.  Once everybody arrived here we started our route planning, where we had to use our map skills in order to measure the distance and calculate the time we will need to walk each leg of the route we had been given by our assessors.

We set off enthusiastically and ready for the weekend.  After a minor setback where we dropped our gas and had to go back and get it we got into the flow of walking, talking and cracking jokes together to pass the time.

We took regular breaks throughout our walking to eat some snacks or just to put the heavy bag down for a bit.  We also made sure we always had water to hand so we stayed hydrated.

During our breaks we also worked on our expedition aim: something that we had to achieve as a group during our time walking.  My group decided to perform the Broadway version of 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' from Mary Poppins.

We arrived to camp exhausted but had to get straight to setting up.  In our group of six we had two three-man tents and two stoves which we had been carrying around all day.  Two people started up the stoves ready for everybody to have a hot meal after a hard day, while the rest of the group set up the tents in the remaining daylight.  In my group we had a wide variety of meals for dinner including pasta, pot noodles, cup-a-soup and expedition packet meals, which everybody thoroughly enjoyed. We also decided to make hot chocolate!

After the cooking, eating and washing up was finished it was around 7pm and was getting dark rapidly.  We all set up the inside of our tents and got into our night clothes before all crowding into one tent to spend some fun, down time together.  We played cards and talked until 9pm when we all had to go into our own tents.

It rained heavily overnight, making it cold and hard for some people to sleep because of the noise of the rain hammering onto the tent.  The next morning we were woken up at 6am.  The sun had not risen yet and the rain was still falling, so everybody started setting up their stoves ready for breakfast in waterproofs and a head torch.  Fortunately it stopped raining fairly quickly and we were able to watch the sunrise while we were eating our warm porridge in a pot.

Our next task was packing up camp ready to start walking again.  Two people went off the start scrubbing the stoves clean, while the four of us packed the tent away.  This took a while as we wanted to make sure it was done correctly and neatly.  When everything was packed up and the stoves were sparkling clean, we run over our route for the day and headed off at about 8:15am, ready for another day of walking.

During our walk we got to explore different parts of the local area, including fields, hills and woodland.  Some of the views from the top of the hills were absolutely breath-taking.

In the final hour of our walking we were very tired but kept pushing on.  We were overjoyed when we reached the final destination of Dunstable Downs car park at around 2:30pm.  After returning all of AtoZ Expeditions equipment and performing our aim to our assessor, we got to go home and take a nice hot bath or shower and relax for what was left of the weekend.

Paige Cawley, Year 10, News Crew

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