After a two month wait following our practice expedition, the weekend that would seal our fate had finally arrived. The Duke of Endinburgh (DofE) Bronze Award qualifying expedition was upon us. A gruelling 20 mile hike across 2 days awaited us and at 9:00am, 90 students started the challenge.

As you could imagine 90 students traipsing through the North Wessex Downs could cause havoc, so each group had a different start time. DofE is truly about being able to survive as a team in solitude.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZnlqnbHyVt0

On the first day we had to walk for six hours through the beautiful countryside near Swindon. Whilst these six hours were tiring, they were definitely worth it for the views of rolling hills and grazing cattle. Luckily the weather played into our hands and we were able to take advantage of dry ground and warmer temperatures; moving swiftly whilst conserving energy.

We arrived at the campsite at around 4:00pm, quickly erected our tents - we were told by our assessors that we were one of the best schools that they had seen - and became familiar with our new home for the night: a rather nice field on a farm. After putting into place the skills we had learned on the practice expedition such as cooking hot meals on stoves, we fell asleep and got some much needed rest.

After a good night’s sleep we awoke to the braying of a donkey and discovered that everything was covered in a fine layer of water after a downpour during the night. After some porridge and pastries, we packed up and set off on the second day of our expedition.

The second day went much like the first. We walked for four hours and experienced equally good weather. Towards the end of our walk was a 1 mile hill that we were told was known as the ‘never ending hill’: as you walked further up it it appeared to get further and further away! After this final hurdle we had completed our expedition and had a great view back down the hill to cheer on fellow teams. DofE has been a thoroughly enjoyable challenge and a great learning experience for all.

Thank you to Mr Sharp and Ocean Rock Adventure for supporting us over the year.