Pupils Navigate the Brecon Beacons

David Martuucci, Outdoors Activity Manager, shares how the Silver DofE participants faired on their first expedition of the year.

On Saturday 2 October, 35 Silver DofE participants ventured to Llangors Lake in the eastern fells of the Brecon Beacons.

On day one, each group set off towards their campsite at Newcourt Farm which was 17km away from their starting point. With such a big hike in store the groups were relieved to see that the atrocious weather on the journey down had abated, and headed off across green fields and paths in search of their campsite.

Throughout the day, all participants enhanced their trekking skills, including how to accurately navigate using a map and compass. All groups worked really well and after some very mixed weather, eventually arrived at their destination before nightfall. On arrival, the groups put up their tents and cooked a range of meals, while reflecting upon the day and what was yet to come.

Pupils woke to patchy blue skies and sunshine on Sunday, which was most welcome to what had been originally forecast. After breakfast, the groups left one by one heading south towards the Black Mountains. All groups did incredibly well, climbing up the steep paths to the top of the 700m ridge. At the top everyone was rewarded by the most amazing views over the Northern and Southern plateaus of the National Park. Although some found it more challenging than others, all participants summited while carrying a large pack on their backs, which they should be proud of.

In the afternoon, the wind started to pick up a little on the ridge, and although we had a few short showers during the day, the weather was still kind to us. After a much easier decent, all groups navigated their way back to the campsite for a well-deserved rest and supper.

On the final day, the groups were up early to make sure they arrived at the pick-up point in time to catch the coach. All groups set off, tired but in good spirits, in search of that elusive finishing point. For a while we did indeed wonder if this was still South Wales as the groups were yet again graced with sunshine when they set off but in typical Brecon fashion, the rain eventually came, and rain it did, hard! Luckily for some, the rain came in when they were back at the pick-up point, but for others, they were not so lucky!

Throughout the expedition, all participants did extremely well navigating and negotiating paths, tracks, hills, ridges, roads and fields to get from start to finish in mixed weather. It would be remise of me not to mention a few participants, such as Tainzong Cheng and Yubin Zhang who showed the true spirit of DofE in so many ways helping others in their group get through some tough moments. Andrew Knight for sharing his food when others had none, and to Group 1 (Remy Mazurek, William Bishop, Ollie Smith, Rohan Chawla, Charlie Raeside, Perch Suwannakit and Theo Warburton) for being one of the best cohesive and high-spirited Silver groups I have ever seen, especially on a Practice.

Well done to all of the pupils. I hope that this expedition has helped them prepare and set a positive frame of mind for the Assessment in March. Bring it on!