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Thirty Trent students travelled to the North York Moors last week to complete their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. The expedition lasted four days, with three nights of camping, covering about twenty kilometres per day over the moors. This group was fortunate to experience settled, dry weather with sufficient cloud cover to prevent conditions getting too hot. Despite the favourable weather, the venture still represented a considerable challenge with the groups having to navigate across the moors carrying all the kit they needed for the trip.
The journey to Robin Hoods Bay took about three hours and for those fortunate enough to be on the earlier bus, they were able to wander down through the village to the seaside and see the amazing coastline. Later in the evening, after the traditional fish and chip meal, the second bus arrived at the camp-site. One of the D of E Assessors also visited to meet the groups and to discuss the plans for the venture in more detail.
By 8.30am on the first expedition day, the groups were all ready to depart as planned. Bizarrely, at this point it rained heavily for about twenty minutes, so everyone donned their full waterproofs and set off. This was the only time the waterproofs were needed for the next four days. The groups followed their own chosen routes, occasionally meeting their staff supervisor and sometimes their local D of E Assessor, gradually making progress towards their first campsites. The occasional navigational slip proved quite costly in some cases, so day 1 became quite an epic day, with some groups finally getting to their camp-sites in Goathland and Grosmont at about 8.00pm, nearly a twelve hour day.
Over the next three days, the groups made their way across the moors, down and up the dales, experiencing the beauty and challenge of the landscape. Navigation generally improved and the students all showed great resilience in coping with the strenuous venture. In particular, those who developed champion blisters on their feet had to dig very deep to get through the days. They saw nature in the form of deer, rabbits, curlews, adders, grouse, pheasants and…midges. They explored the industrial relics left over from the days when the moors swarmed with miners digging for ironstone and many other minerals, most especially in Rosedale. They saw the modern ‘swarms’ of tourists, walkers, cyclists and bikers. They came to understand more intimately just what contours on a map indicate and they pulled together as close-knit teams in a most impressive way.
Finally on Day Four, the groups made their way to the finish point in Helmsley where they could drop their rucksacks for good, remove their boots and feel the satisfaction of completing the challenge. They had a debrief with their Assessor and were able to enjoy some local food, especially the Ryedale ice-cream.
Mr. Shuttleworth Co-ordinator of Duke of Edinburgh Awards and Expeditions comments, “It had been a tough challenge and it was excellent that all but one participant had managed to see it all the way through to the end. Thanks to the assessors who came out to check that the groups were competent and to the Trent staff who supervised them so effectively. It was a pleasure to be out with such positive groups of students who did themselves and Trent College proud.”