Having left school at 10am, we had a quiet drive to Wales, following a night of dancing at the Leavers Ball. We arrived at our Band B, the girls last bit of luxury before their 4-day D of E expedition in the Brecon Beacons. After a delicious meal cooked by Miss Mann everyone went to bed so that they could be prepared for the walk the following day.
After a hearty ‘Welsh’ cooked breakfast we bundled into the minibus and drove to the start point to meet the assessor. He quickly put the girls at ease and they set off up the mountain. The day was hot and there was little shade to be found. The group were amazing navigators and coped well with disappearing paths. They arrived at the camp site, put up their tents and cooked their meal.
The girls were up and off by 5am and met by Mrs Grove at 5.30am before they started to walk up the hill. By 7am they had already reached the top of the mountain in the early morning low cloud. This soon burnt off to reveal a bright blue sky and sunshine, so the girls were glad to have started early.
Mrs Grove met them again at the top before they started their walk down the valley, Arriving at 1pm they were able to get out of the sun and rest under the shade of the trees, dangling their toes in the cool waters of the stream.
The day started very bright with blue skies, sunshine and weather warnings of high UV risk. Once again the group started walking at 5am and by 7am they had started their climb up on to the ridge. Although it was early in the morning the temperature rose fast. They enjoyed beautiful views from the top of a reservoir in the next valley and, on their way down, of Llanthony Abbey, a ruined priory which was their next campsite. They arrived by 1pm and had time to pitch their tents before a slight drizzle arrived to freshen the air.
Andrew, their assessor, met them at their campsite at 4.45am to watch their final packing, before they departed the site at 5am. It was a little overcast and cooler than the day before; much better weather conditions for walking in the mountains. Having your lunch at 9.48am seems very strange, but when you are up so early it makes sense.
One more hill to climb and then it was downhill all the way to the end, where the minibus was waiting in a car park on the flanks of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Andrew debriefed the girls and praised them for their excellent navigation, skills and fabulous teamwork.
Congratulations to Hannah Bacon, Sophie Beart, Megan Chainey, Alice Handley Howorth, Hannah Kingston and Erica Nunney on passing your Gold Expedition.
Also a very big thank you to Mr Johnston and Miss Mann for helping me to supervise this group.