A South Downs expedition for the Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award
On the 5th July 2017, twenty-six Year 12 students accompanied Mr Wright and other Heathcote staff members to the South Downs to undertake their two-night, three-day qualifying expedition for the silver Duke of Edinburgh Award. Mr Wright guides us through this arduous trek!
Entirely self-sufficient and carrying all they required to hike and camp for the duration of the trip, our teams waved goodbye to their mobile phones and motorised transport before departing Heathcote. Having developed their map skills in the Epping Forest practice expeditions earlier, all teams made great time, arriving at the first check-point well ahead of schedule despite the steep ridge climb. Throughout the day the scorching 28-degree heat didn’t slow them. The teams made their campsite well before dark - with the exception of one, who selected a scenic detour to the top of Devil’s Dyke!
Teams emerged from their tents early on the second day, keen to get the longest hike under way. Once equipment and tents were packed, each team’s routes were verified by their assessor Ms Gogar and the march began. The testing hike culminated in a steep climb up onto the Downs and along the 300-metre ridge to the final check point of the day. In total, a very hot and hilly 17 kilometres were undertaken. That night teams tended to their blisters by the campfire, before stargazing under the clear East Sussex sky and sharing ghost stories. Come the third and final day, exhausted and in dire need of a warm shower, the teams made one final push for the summit of Devil’s Dyke. With the promise of a restaurant lunch and an early return to Chingford as motivation, all teams achieved this in record time.
However, the long awaited feast had to be cut short when one of the school minibuses broke down, forcing some participants to make the return journey back to Heathcote in a convoy of taxis. Huge credit to all teams for the pace, stamina, determination and navigational skills shown in order to see the expedition through. All teams passed with flying colours and will receive their certificates shortly. Next stop Gold!