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The unusually cold and snowy conditions of late March put the Silver expedition in doubt, especially as they had caused the Gold training expedition to the Yorkshire Dales over Easter to be postponed. However, after repeated checks of the weather forecast and a pre-expedition recce of the area a few days before, it was decided to go ahead as planned with the ventures.
The 51 pupils from Year 11 assembled in the Sports Hall on Sunday 7th April for a full kit check, safety briefing and initial contact with the expedition Assessors. They were then able to go home for final preparations, before returning to Trent ready for the 0800 departure on the Monday morning. There were 10 groups in total, with 5 different start points in the area around Darley Bridge, Winster and Hartington. The weather was dry, windy and bitterly cold while conditions on the ground proved challenging. Many of the lanes, bridleways and tracks were still full of snow drifts, making progress slower than had been anticipated. However, all proceeded effectively to their chosen campsites where they could refresh themselves with hot food and drink, then try to find some shelter in their tents for the night. Some groups took quite a battering from the biting easterly wind.
Day Two proved to be a long day for several groups, again largely due to the difficult conditions. The groups proved themselves to be good at navigating, but again progress along the snow-filled lanes was slow. Some arrived quite late at their next camp where they experienced another very cold night, down to -3oC. Fortunately it was followed by a beautiful sunrise and clear, dry conditions in which to tackle their final day. The routes all ended up at Ladybower car park where the groups then had a debrief with their Assessors and gave their oral reports about the expedition aims. Finally, everyone had arrived safely and the minibuses were loaded up for the return to Trent.
The expedition was very successful despite the cold and snow, with the groups showing an impressive level of skill in navigating and campcraft. It was also great to see how well they worked as teams to get through the tough conditions. The individual determination to keep going was very impressive as fatigue set in and feet, backs, shoulders and hips became sore,. All the supervisors and assessors were impressed with the cheerfulness of the pupils and there is no doubt that the groups can be proud of themselves.
It is also important to acknowledge the vital role played by the adults who came out during the holiday to help make the expedition both possible and successful. Trent is lucky to have so many volunteers who show such care and give such encouragement to the pupils during their expeditions. It is rewarding when the groups also remain so positive. Thanks to all the supervisors (teachers and parent), the additional leaders from Evolution Outdoors, the three Assessors (Paul, Nigel and Phil) and to JF for helping with transport at the start and end of the expedition. Hopefully, the pupils will now proceed quickly to completion of their Silver Awards through eDofE. This is the final challenge!