DofE Gold Assessment 2021

Read Mr Martucci's report on the Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition to the Lake District during half term

Early on Sunday morning, 29 participants and 4 staff boarded the coach bound for Keswick and the long awaited return to the one of the best National Parks we have in the UK, the magnificent Lake District. The journey was long, but eventually we all arrived at Derwent Hill Education Centre, an old Georgian Mansion that was renovated back in 1962 to become a place of educating others. A stunning location overlooking Derwent Water and the Marina just south of Keswick.

After settling into their rooms and sitting down to dinner, we met outside for the group briefing and route planning exercise.

This was also the perfect opportunity for our group photo:

 Day 1:

After breakfast, the groups got themselves organised and after a final check, left one by one for their first days walk, ending up at Syke Farm campsite in Buttermere.

The weather was absolutely stunning, even dare I say a bit too hot at 23 degrees, but after the drenching they received on their Practice expedition, I don’t think they were too bothered!

It was tough going but in true Carthusian spirit, they all soldered on with a smile on their face in search for that elusive campsite. As you can see, the views speak for themselves and awarded with some truly awesome views along the way.

Once at the campsite, some much needed R&R in the shade before setting up camp and cooking dinner. Day one over, three to go!

 Day 2:

Day two started much the same as day one ended, hot! It was only 08:00 and already 18 degrees. Forecast was for 24 degrees today, so plenty of shade and water was on the menu. Only problem was, this was the toughest day with a smidge under 1000m of ascent before wild camping around Sprinkling Tarn.

Climb one was up over Scarth Gap Pass. 400m of steady ascent to the base of Hay Stacks, the site of where the legendary Alfred Wainwright had his ashes scattered (see poem below).

Second of the days climb was approx. 500m up over Windy Gap between Green and Great Gable. One I think they may remember for a very long time, but the views from the top made it all so worthwhile.

The third and final climb was just under 100m up to Sprinkling Tarn. Once there, they set up their tents to wild camp by the scenic and popular body of water. It had been a tough day, but now it was time to relax and for them to enjoy their environment. It ended up being an eventful day overall, but all groups managed to get through this, the toughest of days.

 Day 3:

Compared to yesterday, day three was going to be much easier for the Groups. Most of the route was either downhill or flat, with only a bit of ascent to tackle. Once again, we were greeted with 24 degrees of sun and clear blue skies, so having a slightly easier day was very welcome to all.

The route took them East past Angle Tarn, down Rossett Crag into and along Mickleden, through Langdale to their next campsite at Baysbrown. Again, stunning views with a chance for some groups to stop and have lunch whilst having some fun in Mickleden Beck.

The Groups did really well and once at the campsite were clearly tired, but ready for some well-earned food and rest.

Day 4:

Although the day started quiet hot, the forecast for today was only going to be a measly 19 degrees. It was also slightly cloudy which was nice to be honest.

Their last day was not too long as we had to meet the coach at Skelwith Bridge, so we were all up early to ensure we arrived on time. It was a very pleasant walk through Elterwater along Langdale Beck to the finish point, which just happened to be a most wonderful cake shop! 

I would like to congratulate all the staff for their support throughout the expedition, but most of all I really want to pass on my respect and thanks to all the participants for sticking with their Gold Award throughout a very turbulent year. I was very humbled with the positivity of everyone and always seeing smiles on faces, even during the toughest parts. Very well done. I hope all would agree that the wait was worth it.

Special thanks must go to Carlotta for some wonderful photos plus Lucas and Binghua for acting above and beyond the call of duty helping a member of their group out. Also to those who struggled due to illness and injury, but fought through the dark times to find the light, much respect to you all.

Personally, I don’t think after all the years I have been coming to Cumbria, I can ever remember having such a wonderfully long spell of dry, hot, settled weather and clear blue skies. Truly wonderful and we should feel truly blessed. I think someone upstairs took a shine to us and to be honest the groups certainly deserved it, especially after their somewhat soggy practice!

Finally, I wanted to add this poem by Alfred Wainwright, which I think will hopefully sum up how most, if not all, of us felt at one point during the expedition.

“Oh, how can I put into words the joys of a walk over country such as this; the scenes that delight the eyes, the blessed peace of mind, the sheer exuberance which fills your soul as you tread the firm turf? This is something to be lived, not read about. On these breezy heights, a transformation is wondrously wrought within you. Your thoughts are simple, in tune with your surroundings; the complicated problems you brought with you from the town are smoothed away. Up here, you are near to your Creator; you are conscious of the infinite; you gain new perspectives; thoughts run in new strange channels; there are stirrings in your soul which are quite beyond the power of my pen to describe. Something happens to you in the silent places which never could in the towns, and it is a good thing to sit awhile in a quiet spot and meditate. The hills have a power to soothe and heal which is their very own. No person ever sat alone on the top of a hill and planned a murder or a robbery, and no person ever came down from the hills without feeling in some way refreshed, and the better for their experience.”

- Mr David Martucci