Wellington runs the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Scheme for pupils in year 13. The Scheme encourages wider contacts and involvement. As direct entry Gold Award participants they take part in a wide range of activities focused on getting them involved in the wider community and in expanding their personal boundaries.
Anyone who has taken part in a Gold expedition will tell you how hard it is. Most will also tell you how this is the real fun part! Training is mostly in the Mourne Mountains and culminates in a 3 day practice expedition. The 2016-2017 groups also gained certificates in emergency first aid, attending a full day course in school. Thanks again to David Campbell for a very worthwhile day, covering emergency first aid and safe practice in wild country.
Last year’s Gold expedition was again in Wicklow. Very like the Mournes the weather in the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains can be fickle. The boys had the entire gamut of sunshine and rain to contend with but coped well and stayed the course. Many thanks to Mr Orr for accompanying us on the expedition and to Ms Samantha Moore, our assessor.
For logistical reasons we spend a couple of nights in a hostel, the night before the expedition and the last night. Last year we returned to the Glendalough International Youth Hostel and must thank the staff again for their warm welcome.
Extracts from June 2016 diary:
Diary of Day 1 of Duke of Ed Gold Award Expedition
On the first day of our trip we woke up at the hostel at around 8am not entirely sure what we had got ourselves in for. We got breakfast at 8:30…
… During this time the weather was really mixed it was raining and you were too cold one second and then the sun was out and you were too warm the next second. We then took another break at a T-junction in the path where Jacob had the first of his many pot noodles.
… We were so tired so we sat down for 10 minutes before setting up the tent We were about to go to sleep before we spotted a deer a 150 metres away and we watched it until it vanished behind trees.
… We walked on through soggy ground and over bare rocks then headed left and took shelter again as the weather got worse. We followed the path until we saw a road and began heading down towards it. As we got closer we saw a car park that was our lunch spot for the day so we picked up the pace eager to eat. We finally got there and had our lunches and refilled water supplies while we talked and enjoyed the now good weather. We walked on and found out we had to cross the river we were beside.
We got over the river and climbed ridge ….. Once we got to the base of Tonaglee we looked up at our next challenge, the hill we had to climb. The only problem was that it was surrounded by fog that you couldn’t see through at all and there were really strong winds. So we decided to go around. It was tricky to get round as it was pretty steep in some parts and it started raining as well so there was pits that went up to your chins in water and mud. When we got to the other side we could see a car park and we knew that was where we had to go, so we made a b-line dash downhill to it through the muddy water swamp areas.
….We took a break and then descended into the forest paths. We followed the bearing and map direction and eventually we left the labyrinth that was that forest to be greeted with our teacher who told us we had done it.
We woke the next morning and headed home for Belfast, we had finished our duke of Ed expedition.