The recent Gold (practice) Duke of Edinburgh expedition was eagerly anticipated by all participants, including myself. The route was planned and the challenging terrain was certainly going to make it harder than any expedition any of us had undertaken before, not just physically but navigationally to. We spent the first night at a relatively popular wild camp site before packing up and tackling the route the day after. Atop the mountainous hill-climb the weather deteriorated and was a medley of bright sunshine, torrential rain and disorientating fog. Nevertheless we followed the ridge, had lunch, and were descending the far side of the peak, across several brooks which were swollen with the recent downpours. Eventually we made it to the campsite via a network of minor roads and navigational de-tours, ensuring we took the scenic route! Arriving later than expected we were all glad to pitch camp and rest up for the oncoming final day.
Next morning was dewy but the weather looked promising enough, we had added the walk from the campsite to the start point on to the route, but had removed a later section so we walked the same distance, but without the need to drive to the start point. Progress was slower than expected which was demoralising for the entire group. Roughly a third of the way through the route passed though an area of marshland, which as we discovered upon entering, was also swollen with the rainwater from the day before. Progress was slow going, and the water was putrid presenting a health risk to those with open sores on their feet from blisters. Unfortunately this proved the final straw for the team, as we promptly made our way to the nearest road, whereupon we abandoned the expedition and returned to squadron headquarters for a debriefing.
Despite our expedition being a ‘Failure’ it was worth its weight in experience which will allow a more realistic route to be produced for our next attempt. In the mean time, all team members will continue to walk in such terrain to gain confidence and experience to ensure success next time, as ultimately it was our own inexperience which was our downfall.