D of E Gold qualifying expedition
1st July, 2017
“Challenging” is a word often used to describe the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award Expedition. It involves planning and completing a long distance walk of around 80 km in four days, camping overnight for the three nights, and conducting a research project whilst “out in the field”. As if this was not hard enough, our boys this year had to contend with exceptionally poor weather conditions. Out of the four days walking, we estimate that only around four of our waking hours were actually completely dry! Gale force winds, perpetual rain, and visibility down to 30 meters made walking, campcraft, and navigation extremely difficult – a test of both character and skill. We are pleased to report that our boys coped admirably with the conditions, navigating treacherous terrain with accuracy when it really mattered, and staying positive throughout.
Based in the Cairngorms National Park, our route took the boys into the Abernethy Forest, up the River Nethy to Loch Etchachan, over Derry Cairngorm, and then through the infamous Lairig Ghru Pass. For most of our boys, this was their first climb up a “Munro”. The fact that they also were eaten alive by midges in the forest, and took on the Lairig Ghru in both gale-force winds and driving rain, gave them a truly all-round Highland walking experience!
It was not all hard, however. The views of Cairn Toul and Ben Macdui from Carn Crom were spectacular, and the breaks in the weather allowed the boys to complete some very interesting expedition aims – correlating Gaelic place names with observable features, studying bothies and other buildings in the Cairngorms, and comparing “natural navigation” using features with navigation using map and compass. We look forward to receiving their presentations after the summer holiday, and congratulate the boys warmly for all that they achieved during their expedition.