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.
Another bright day ahead of us but thankfully this time with a little more cloud coverage. It was very hot to be walking in the hills yesterday, especially when there was no shade to be found.
This morning the girls were up by 5.20am and already out walking by 6.30am. Hopefully it will not be so hot for them today and the early start will mean they should finish by 3pm.
When we met them at this little bridge at 8am they were all still cheerful and ready to climb the next mountain.
We were fortunate enough to have a bright and sunny morning for the start of our Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition in Wales. The girls were all up bright and early today and were soon packed and ready to start their long walk.
How lucky are they to be walking in the Brecon Beacons on such a beautiful day!
Day 3 of the expedition started bright. The girls left their little campsite in the bend of a small stream and began their walk up the next mountain. They passed a part ruined abbey where Father Ignateous, who lived in Norwich, had set up a monastery. Following a well-worn path the climb up the mountain seemed very long. But at the top the views were spectacular.
On one side was a reservoir glinting in the sunlight and on the other fuels and more mountains. The breeze on top was very welcome as they walked along the ridge. The walk down to their campsite was steep along the side of a small valley but as they turned the corner the view of Llanthony Abbey was amazing. That night they camped at Court Farm.
On their last day the girls set off even earlier than the previous three days, leaving the campsite by 4am. They started their steepest climb up cwm bwchal to the cairn at the top before following along another ridge.
They enjoyed their lunch at Ponyspig yesterday at 9am when most sensible people were having breakfast or had just started school! The final climb led them up the side of the Sugar Loaf Mountain and down to the car park where their assessor was awaiting them. They were so pleased to have finished and Les (their assessor) was very impressed with them as they were all direct entrants (not one of them had done the bronze or silver awards).
Congratulations to the Gold group and well done!
After a long journey down to Wales (due to massive traffic queues) a glorious, sunny morning greeted our Gold Duke of Edinburgh girls on the Saturday. Following a good night sleep and a full cooked English (whoops Welsh) breakfast, they were all fully prepared when we dropped them off at the bottom of the hill and serenaded them on their way to songs such as Climb Every Mountain and These Boots Are Made For Walking.
Our intrepid hikers walked up a steep spur to the mountain top, then along the ridge. They made great progress, although would you believe it, one of them managed to find a small bog and sunk one leg up to her knee! Luckily the rest of the path was dusty dry. They also had to contend with yellow ladybugs – the viscous Welsh type!! Along the way they met other groups of people out walking, also enjoying the sunny weather. Whilst the staff were waiting for them they saw a Red Kite. After an exhausting day all the girls arrived at the campsite, put up their tents, cooked tea and went to bed early.
The start of Day Two was promising to be even hotter, so the group decided to get up really early and start walking at 5am so that they would be finished 8 hrs later by 1pm, and not be out all day in the heat. They left the campsite at first light and the sun rose over the mountains as they started their climb to the top of the next ridge. During the hike they also saw waterfalls and the odd paraglider taking advantage of the thermals rising off the hill.
I’m pleased to report that everyone got home safe and sound from the Gold Duke of Edinburgh practice yesterday. Aside from a few minor bumps, bruises and blisters, all girls survived the expedition unscathed. We had some amazing weather and sunshine during our stay in Wales, so it was a shame really to have to return to a rather grey Norfolk!
Congratulations girls you were a delight to take. As well as learning a great deal you also achieved some important new skills.
Make sure you keep yourselves fit, ready for our return to the Black Mountains in 4 weeks.