Inaugural Gold Duke of Edinburgh at BlenheimPosted on: 09/10/2018
On Thursday 27th September, 7 intrepid Gold Duke of Edinburgh students headed for the Lake District. It was a 6am start and the group were delighted to see Mr Bodell arrive to wave them off.
They arrived in the Langdales area to dry and unseasonably sunny weather (but frosty nights), allowing for a day and a half of intensive navigation training. Mrs Pickett was amazed by their micro and macro navigation skills, as was Ian their lead instructor.
Day 3 saw them head off on their own, remotely supervised by Ian. This was where their misinterpretation of contours set in.....whilst planning they had slightly underestimated the affect of the height gain on their speed - a steep learning curve (pardon the pun here).
Night 3 was a wild camp at Styhead Tarn, 500m above sea level. Mrs Pickett joined the group along with a stray dog she had 'picked up' as she walked in. This cheered spirits significantly as the group cooked a fabulous chorizo risotto for tea. A very windy night followed and the only one who got a good night's sleep was the stray dog who had found Mrs Pickett's down jacket very comfortable!
Day 4 and while Mrs Pickett headed back down, hoping to reunite the dog with its owner, the students headed up the aptly named 'Windy Gap' with Head Girl Lauren leading the way. This lead to a difficult day for the group with wind, rain and poor visibility on the summits - a day which would have tested most adult mountain walkers, let alone a group of teenagers carrying full packs! Their arrival at the final campsite was greeted with delight as they realised the showers were luxurious and there was a shelter to eat in. What followed was a lesson for Mrs Pickett and Ian in how to eat pepper, chorizo and halloumi wraps - or an hour of hilarity as students showed how many different ways you could make a mess with wraps - followed by apple crumble (not bad on a Trangia).
The final day dawned and the group were given the option of a lower level route as the previous day had been so testing. In true Blenheim (and Duke of Edinburgh) style, they declined, wanting to finish by taking in at least one summit, which they did successfully, arriving at Mrs Pickett after a final day of 6 hours walking.
Mrs Pickett has been running Gold expeditions for more years than she cares to count however, this group were the best she has ever seen in terms of what they cooked, how they supported each other, how they utilised each other's individual strengths throughout the 5 days and how each and every one of them could navigate brilliantly!
Roll on qualifying...........