Media Elements

Expeditions

Students from Trent College have been heading off to exotic destinations on amazing expeditions for many years. The school gives great support to these ambitious ventures as it recognises the value of giving students a wide variety of new experiences;

- challenging them both physically and mentally

- learning the importance of team work

- the opportunity to travel to new countries

- chance to experience different cultures

- have an incredible time and amazing life experience!

The overall aim is to lead a major overseas expedition every two years, giving each Sixth Former a chance to take part. Since 2002, Trent has also arranged a trip for Main School pupils during the summer half-term as an introduction to expeditions. These highly successful trips have lasted up to ten days and involved destinations such as Morocco, Turkey and in 2009, Iceland.

Trent has been lucky over the years to have a good number of enthusiastic and competent teachers who have been more than willing to organise expeditions. The vast majority of the trips have been run by those teachers without using one of the large companies who specialise in school trips. This has given the participants a special ownership of the plans. On return, the expedition groups have usually produced a written expedition report and an audio-visual presentation to a large audience of friends, family and staff, thus using their experiences as a basis for learning new skills.

  •   Slovakia - 2012
    • Although the team had planned to leave early in the morning for this expedition, the weather forecasters for the UK had predicted a heavy snowfall. So, to ensure that the group could safely get to the airport in time for their flight via Belgium into Poland, they left Trent the night before and planned to camp out on the floor of the airport. However, after settling into the airport lounge for what promised to be a cold and uncomfortable night, they were soon approached by the airport police, who were heavily armed with automatic rifles, Tasers and handguns. After a little panic, it soon became apparent that the Armed-Response Officers were offering to show the expedition team around the airport armoury and prison cells and provide an insight into the life of someone tasked with keeping the airports safe from the risk of terrorism. After a fascinating tour and a chance to ‘play’ with a variety of weapons and handcuffs, the expedition began for real!

      After landing in Krakow, Poland a three hour bus trip followed, driving South out of the country and into the snowy mountains of North Slovakia. Tatranska Lomnica made a picturesque base for the 2012 expedition and the group quickly settled into their hotel.

      After what turned out to be an extremely long day of travelling, the group had a very welcome good night’s sleep and woke to beautiful snowy scenery and a ‘meaty’ Slovakian breakfast. Once the group had prepared themselves for the cold weather outside by layering up in everything they had, the skiing lessons began. Three days of progressive skiing followed in temperatures of -15 to -20 degrees, providing opportunities for the more advanced to tackle the black runs and for beginners to advance from snowplough to parallel turns. A little free-skiing was enjoyed in the downtime, and evenings were spent playing games and fuelling up on traditional Slovakian meals.

      Once the skiing phase was complete, the group changed their ski boots for walking shoes and their skis for snowshoes for what turned out to be a mammoth trek in quite challenging conditions. Nobody in the group had used snowshoes before, so getting used to walking without falling over took some practise. The trek began on flat open pastures in deep snow but soon took on a steeper gradient through woodland that could only be described as ‘Narnia’. The weather deteriorated, the inclines became steeper and by the end of the day the group were trudging on towards their mountain hut at Zelene Pleso in heavy snowfall. Weary bodies were rested and snowballs were thrown before a much awaited meal of Goulash and dumplings, washed down with pints of sweet tea.

      Following a hearty breakfast of somewhere between 60 and 80 pancakes (between the group) covered in whipped cream, chocolate sauce and poppy seed jam, the group reluctantly headed out into the cold for their return journey to Tatranska Lomnica. As the route was now mostly downhill, the journey passed much quicker and allowed time to explore for wildlife. Signs of wolf tracks were evident, amongst other animals, but thankfully no bear tracks were seen. That evening, the group were treated to a much needed bath in the outdoor thermal spas of Aquacity Poprad. The geothermally-heated pools situated amongst mountain scenery were an ideal place to recover from what has been a demanding, but rewarding trek.

      The visibility decreased, snow deepened and temperature plummeted. A day of dog-sledding was planned and excitement levels were at a high. The group set up base in a in a restaurant which would be visited frequently that day for the purpose of thawing out. An icy wind left the group in no doubt that cold weather was not for the faint hearted. The Husky dogs were already roped up on arrival and a track was slowly being paced out in very deep snow. Each member of the group took the opportunity to drive the dog sleds and some mastered the turns quicker than others, but nobody was left wondering what would happen if they didn’t hold on tight! In between dog-sledding and snowballing, the group kept warm by digging snow holes to shelter in. After an amazing adventure, filled with exciting opportunities, the time had come to pack bags and return home. Each member of the group had learned something new and all had memories that would last a lifetime.

  •   Borneo 2011
    • The members of the Borneo 2011 Expedition group returned to Trent on 1stAugust after a three week adventure in Sabah, Borneo. Fourteen 6th Form students and three staff had travelled to the tropical island for a variety of activities including jungle trekking, a community project, some wildlife viewing, an ascent of Mount Kinabalu (4095 metres) and some white water rafting. A superb time was had by all as they faced the challenges of the different environment, climate and culture found in Borneo.

      The trip started at 0400 on Monday 11th July as they gathered for the drive down to Heathrow. The flight via Dubai and Brunei got them to Sabah late on Tuesday where the reality of what a tropical, hot, humid climate really means. The first phase of the expedition was the five day jungle trek, so everyone loaded up into 4x4s for a six hour journey deep into the rainforest. The first stop was a village called Long Pasia where the group was split up and accommodated in local homestays. The next morning, the trek into the forest began. Although it was slightly cooler here due to the altitude, it still proved to be very hot and sweaty work. At the end of the day the group put up their hammocks and bashas (shelters), prepared some food and went to bed for the first strange night in the jungle. The various noises made it feel very different, combined with the isolating factor of the mosquito net and the new experience of trying to sleep in the swinging hammock. Dawn proved to be welcome and brought a range of accounts about how well people had slept.

      Over the next four days, the group covered a considerable distance, crossed many rivers, saw some of the wonders of the rainforest including huge trees with buttress roots, and experienced first hand the scourge of jungle travellers in these parts – leeches. Although everyone had wisely invested in a pair of leech socks, they still managed to get into shirts, on necks and hands and some clearly feasted very well before being detected! Fortunately, although unpleasant, they do not carry disease so are relatively harmless. The group’s jungle skills improved greatly and everyone became efficient at setting up and dismantling the hammocks. During this time, the local guides introduced the team to various jungle survival skills and some of the uses which various plants can be put. At the end of five days of discomfort, constantly damp clothes, alertness for leeches and other insects, the group returned happily to Long Pasia, the chance of a shower and some better food back at the homestays. That evening, the guides put on a show of traditional dress and dancing, inviting our group to have a go.

      The second phase of the expedition was the Community Project. The group spent three days at the Don Bosco Childrens Home in a village called Bundu Tuhan in the foothills of Mt Kinabalu. The basic project involved painting as much of the outside of the main building as possible in the time available and this proved to be very successful. However, the real aim was to interact with the children in the home, especially to develop some of their English language skills. The first afternoon was an ice-breaker with lots of games played in the yard. Over the next couple of days, the students prepared and conducted some specific sessions on artistic skills, simple language, more complex literary discussion, some science and maths. They also introduced games, including cricket, and spent time singing and dancing with the children. The response was very welcoming and friendly, and it was sad to leave the Home on the last afternoon to move on to the next phase.

      The third phase concerned wildlife, especially visiting the Kinabatangan river, the Orang-utan sanctuary at Sepilok and the Rainforest Discovery Centre. These were all over to the east near the town of Sandakan, a long five hour journey away through extensive areas of palm oil plantation agriculture. On the way the group stopped to visit the memorials erected to those who died in the terrible ‘Death Marches’ of early 1945, when all but 6 out of 2400 Australian and British POWs died in Japanese camps or on forced marches through the jungle.

      Over the next couple of days, the group was able to experience wildlife in its natural environment. The orang-utans at Sepilok are slightly different as they are fed as part of their rehabilitation, but elsewhere there were long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques, proboscis monkeys, monitor lizards, swamp snakes, two crocodiles, some wild boar, slow loris, hornbills, fish eagles and kingfishers. One clear highlight occured in the Rainforest Disovery Centre high up on the walkway through the upper canopy. As dusk fell, three flying squirrels emerged from a hole in the trunk, climbed higher in the tree and launched themselves into the air, gliding away through the forest.

      Phase four was the ascent of Mt Kinabalu, at 4095 metres the highest mountain in this part of southeast Asia. It is a very well-prepared tourist trail, so navigation is not an issue. The challenges include the distance, the altitude, the weather and the long descent. Additional challenges for our group arose due to some students being sick before starting the climb. However, with a mixture of great determination from them, lots of support and encouragement from the others, everyone made it up to the magnificent summit and, even more importantly, made it down safely. However, everyone knew they had worked hard as they had stiff leg muscles for the next couple of days.

      The final couple of days were spent white water rafting, shopping for souvenirs and visiting one of the islands just offshore from Kota Kinabalu. Eventually everyone was ready for the long return journey, lasting a total of 37 hours, arriving at Trent to be greeted by happy parents. There was lots of excited chatter as the first stories were told, before everyone dispersed.

      Thanks go to Adventureworks for the organisation of this expedition. Thanks also to Lee, our excellent guide in Sabah, and the jungle guides (Hanry, Apok and Kenny). The full illustrated story of the expedition will be told at 1900 on 15th November in the Trent College chapel.

  •   2010 scuba diving trip to Egypt
    • This trip was for one week and included three nights on a liveaboard boat diving off Ras Mohammed Marine Park and four nights in Sharm El Sheikh.

      At 0530 on the morning of 10th July, our party of eighteen scuba divers left Trent College on the 2010 Red Sea diving trip. We flew out of Manchester airport and in to Sharm El Sheikh. From the airport in Sharm we were taken by coach to the main jetty for boats and we went on board our two liveaboard boats: King Snefro 5 & King Snefro 6. We had our evening meal on the boat and then settled down for a good nights sleep. In the morning we had our first dive briefing and our first dive of the trip. The dive was to one of the local Sharm dive sites and enabled everyone to check their buoyancy and make sure they were carrying the correct weights. Once this was checked we enjoyed a 30 minute dive in clear warm water (a welcome change from Stoney Cove). After the dive the boats cruised to the Ras Mohammed Marine Park where we enjoyed 3 days superb diving. We saw turtles, jacks, barracuda, rays, octopus, moray eels, groupers, wrasse, bannerfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, triggerfish and many, many more types of marine creature.

      The staff on the boats made us feel very much at home and kept us well watered (the intense heat meant that dehydration was a danger) and really well fed. Most of the party chose to sleep on deck rather than in the air conditioned cabins & enjoyed the clear starry nights.

      On the 13th we had our last dive on the liveaboard boats and then transferred to the Rosetta Hotel where we were to spend 4 nights. The first stop off in the hotel was the pool where everyone cooled off before heading into Naama Bay for our evening meal. This was to be the pattern for our 4 nights: cool off in the pool; head into Naama Bay for food and then return to cool off in the pool again. Our days were spent diving with Emperor Divers in the local sites around Sharm (including the Straits of Tiran and Shark/Yolanda Reef – both sites rated amongst the best in the world). We also dived in Fiddle Garden and saw some baby barracuda & at The Tower on the final day, where we saw a majestic 7 foot manta ray. Some of the party also saw a black tip reef shark on the final day diving.

      Virtually everyone agreed that the best part of the diving was the manta ray elegantly gliding past is in crystal clear water. For many of the pupils the highpoint was the ‘banter’ amongst themselves and the crews on the diving boats. All divers showed themselves to be competent and confident in the water. Those who only recently qualified really impressed the dive instructors and showed they had learned all their skills and could apply them so they dived safely and responsibly.

      The trip back from Sharm on the afternoon of 17th July eventually got us back to Trent at 0045. Everyone was tired after a great week diving and full of tales to tell of our adventures in Egypt.

  •   Arctic Norway - 2010
    • The expedition began by flying to into Alta, a small airport in the far North of the country, where the group were greeted with fantastic weather and spectacular views. The group spent their first evening in the luxury of a serviced campsite nearby, where they experienced the midnight sun for the first time before waking up to another uncharacteristically warm day. The group's first activity was supposed to be Husky Dog Sledding, but due to the high temperatures, the dogs were unable to run and instead the group spent the morning finding out about Husky racing; where they were amazed to learn that a typical race would involve up to 16 dogs, pulling a one-man sled over 1000 km during a six day race, in temperatures of -500C.


      The group then continued on to Saltnes to experience 'wild camping' by a remote Fjord with spectacular views. Whilst there, the group spotted an array of wildlife including; freshwater Dolphins, Oyster Catchers and Reindeer. Walking by the Fjord, the group also put their teamwork skills into practice, building a bridge to cross a fast flowing river.


      After a 4.30am start the next day, the group journeyed from Saltnes to Nuvsvag, passing through a 4 km long tunnel, in which they experienced total darkness for the only time that week. In their second wild camp, the group positioned themselves below the snout of the Glacier that they would be climbing the next day. Unfortunately, the Glacier walk would never happen, as that night a fierce Arctic storm ripped through the camp, destroying many of the tents and forcing the group to evacuate and seek refuge in the ferry terminal 10km away. Though many were initially disappointed that their plans had been cut short, there was also an enormous sense of achievement felt by the group at what they had accomplished; working together as a team in very challenging conditions. When reflecting on the experience, one pupil wrote:

      "The wind, harshly cold, was swarming, slapping at the tents and lifting pegs and rocks from the ground. Hail stones- some as large as golf balls- shot through tent doors and crashed into anything in their path. There was, shouting, cursing and yelling from different members of the team. "Oh my goodness, the tent is collapsing! THE TENT IS COLLAPSING!" Locked within the inner tent shell, my friends yelled to each other. I grabbed hold of the closest, firmest guy ropes and attempted to prevent it from taking off. One hand was gripping the guy ropes and the other, flat on the cold, wet surface of the fly sheet. "Don't panic, I've got it," I called, soon followed by "OH MY GOODNESS!" as the wind suddenly picked up. We were instructed to get our waterproofs on, pack our kit away and stay in our tents until told otherwise. Without hesitation, everything from crampons to Mutton Stew was thrown into the middle, providing support for the struggling tent and pinning it down as we organized ourselves. Outside, things were worse. The rain was soaking everything through and many tents were already collapsing and ripping away from the ground. Callum, holding his tent by one string, looked as if he had just walked through a car wash. Before this event, perhaps 'team' would have been a little of an optimistic term to describe our group, but as I sat in the tent waiting for assistance in taking it down, I peeked under the door and watched as natural instinct prevailed. Each member of the team contributed a helping hand to fellow members and, as I observed, a proud sense filled me. Yes, it was scary, it was exciting and it was hard work - but when it all came down to it, none of that mattered. It was all about care and kindness towards each other. The qualities that are not always most visible suddenly surfaced in the face of adversity. And that night, with each and every emotionally and physically challenging moment, I was very glad to be part of this team."

      The group returned to Alta, to assess the situation and make further arrangements to recover the rest of the expedition. Plans to travel up to Nordkapp had to be abandoned, due to the condition of the tents and weather at the time, so the decision was made to stay in Alta for the remainder of the trip, to see if the group could make a second attempt at the Husky Dog sledding. In the meantime, the group enjoyed a trek up to a remote lake where they built a shelter and a campfire and tried their hand at fishing.
      The expedition ended with a trip to the Alta Museum, which offered the group the opportunity to witness, first-hand, some of the rock carvings created up to 6200 years ago and gave an insight into what life during these times may have been like. The group later returned to the Husky farm, where they enjoyed an exciting afternoon of dog sledding before returning home to relay the story of their amazing adventure.

  •   Iceland - 2009
    • The group began their expedition by flying into Keflavik, where they were greeted by good weather and their friendly local guide. After a short drive, the group arrived at the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa where they had their first taste of Icelandic culture and the opportunity to bathe in the milky blue waters, complete with mineral face masks. Thoroughly refreshed, and glowing, the group continued to Reykjavik where they spent their first night in the very stylish City Hostel. After waking up to a drizzly morning, the weather began to clear and the group journeyed into the centre of Reykjavik to see the sights, experience a local fish market and board a whale watching tour. Despite calm seas and high spirits no whales were to be seen that afternoon, although the group did manage to spot some interesting bird life including Arctic Terns and Puffins.

      After another night in Reykjavik the group set off further inland to begin the next phase of their expedition. After a morning exploring the countryside on the back of Icelandic horses, famous for their fifth gait, the group ventured onward to Pingvellir National Park, the site of the first parliament established in 930AD and the rift valley joining the Eurasian and North Atlantic tectonic plates. The group also took the opportunity to explore an underground lava cave and experience total darkness for the only time during their trip, having already witnessed the midnight sun. A walk on the Hengill Volcano the next day provided more visual treats including bubbling mud pools, steaming fumeroles, active geysers and the chance to bathe in the hot waters of a geothermal stream. A visit to the stunning waterfall at Gullfoss and white-water rafting in the churning rapids at Hvita also provided much enjoyment, although some pupils preferred to spend the majority of their time in the water, rather than in the rafts.

      The expedition ended with a fantastic day on the Solheimajokull Glacier where each member of the group donned their crampons and took to the ice with axes in hand. Great fun was had during the ice climbing activity on this amazing and unique landscape. To toast the expedition, the group finished the week with a celebratory meal of local delicacies including lambs tongue, cheek, liver and brain, reindeer, foal, salmon, and Lava bread.

  •   Ecrins - 2011
    • The expedition began after months of preparation and training with a flight to Milan, before driving on to the group’s destination at their Alpine base in Pelvoux, France. Following a good night’s sleep in their hostel accommodation and a hearty breakfast, they began their first day of activity by learning to ride French mountain bikes with brake levers that were the wrong way around. After a morning of learning skills, mastering: drop-offs, berms and table-tops, they were all ready for a gruelling mountain stage of Le Tour des Ecrins. Once up at the ski resort at 1600m, the group began their bumpy, downhill descent back to Vallouise, but not before a long, arduous climb up to ‘Col de la Pousterle’ to take in the spectacular views. At the end of Day 1, course leader, Jerry Gore (a world-class big-wall climber and professional mountaineer) treated the group to a truly inspirational interactive talk on, amongst other things, his exciting ascent of the Eiger and what it feels like to be struck by lightning on the summit of a mountain.

      Thankfully, the next day promised to provide some relief from the soreness that many had acquired on the mountain bikes, as they would be sitting on inflatable seats in what would later turn out to be more like a 27 kilometre bath. The rafting guides skilfully led the group through a number of grade 3 rapids and a slalom course, encouraging them to splash each other and raid one another’s rafts when they weren’t fighting the churning white water. At the end of the trip, they took the opportunity to practise their Olympic diving skills, jumping off a rock and somersaulting gracefully into the river.


      The group woke up to a third day of splitting sunshine and the opportunity to do some serious rock climbing. As the day went on, students developed their skills, learning to use the strength in their legs and a variety of holds and moves to progress up some increasingly difficult routes, before progressing on to a huge 30m route with a number of overhangs for the braver climbers.

      As the group ate breakfast on Day 4 the severe lack of visibility they were faced with didn’t bode well for a day of flying through the air and hanging off rock faces. Despite this, they set off for the Tyrolean - a huge 500m Zip wire suspended 250m above a gorge. Although the rain was still coming down in torrents, one-by-one they took the daunting steps to the end of the precipice, clipped on to the “chariot” as it was labelled by the guides, and were pushed into oblivion. After two breath-taking traverses across the Durance Gorge, the group made their way down the valley to begin their ascent of the Via Ferrata - a system of wire cables and steel staples in the rock. Gradually they climbed the steep rock faces, coping with mud, rain, and some tricky overhanging sections along the way. The most fun (or most terrifying) sections were the very wobbly bridges which seemed to have more gaps than planks in the walkway.

      Looking out of their bedroom windows to see freshly fallen snow on the peaks where the group were headed, felt like appropriate if rather daunting conditions as they prepared for their journey onto Glacier Blanc. Once they had gathered together their ice climbing equipment, overnight gear and layered up ready to face the ice and snow which was falling quite heavily, it took two, fairly grueling hours to make it to the base of the Glacier. After some impressive attempts at climbing the icy overhangs, the group ventured on uphill to their Alpine refuge for the night, encountering a fluffy little French Marmot on their way. After a well-deserved meal and some hot chocolate, numerous games of cards were played by torch light, before settling down for some much-needed sleep in the bunk room like one big happy family.

      The following morning, they set off back down the mountain to their awaiting transport and by lunchtime they were back in their hostel for a long-awaited shower. The afternoon was spent in Briancon, allowing plenty of opportunities for souvenirs to be purchased, and yet more hot chocolate and crepes to be consumed. All too quickly the final day had arrived, and after a foggy journey across the Alps and back to Milan Airport, the group landed back in England with plenty of stories to tell about their exciting Alpine adventure.