So, earlier this week came the daunting prospect of our Gold Duke of Edinburgh final expedition and this post is really to say that with a bit of teamwork, perseverance and as always, cheerful singing, we made it. Yes, even given the recent and tragic news, we still thought it would be a good idea to spend four days walking around the Brecon Beacons.
There were a few challenges along the way of course; first of all to point out the obvious, the walking. They’re not called Beacons for nothing and from which, my feet are now entirely covered in blisters, particularly as we wanted to get as much fun out of it as possible and so walked for eleven hours the first day. We soon realised this wasn’t quite as fun as we thought it would be and so in order to get more fun, went for thirteen hours the next day. As it turns out, adding to the length of the day, does not always result in more fun had.
Also, the packing. When on Duke of Edinburgh, it is essential to pack light as you must carry everything you need for the expedition as you go – no smuggling extra bottles of pesto this time. Although, with a bag that size and continual kit checks, it’s very hard to smuggle anything at all, much like being at an airport with luggage as a man in China recently found out when trying to smuggle his pet turtle through security. No word of a lie, a Chinese man was caught trying to smuggle his pet turtle onto an aeroplane to Beijing by hiding it inside a KFC burger in his bag. Some news was just made to make you laugh.
We also had to have a project to carry out during the expedition and ours was geocaching. For those of you who don’t know, this is when you walk around with a GPS looking for some kind of hidden container and when you find it, you sign a book to say you have, then take something out of the container and replace it with something of your own of similar value for someone else to find. Kind of like a worldwide treasure hunt. Unfortunately, no one in our group had ever done it before and we didn’t have a GPS, so, after two and a half days of geocaching disappointment, we were very excited indeed to find our first real geocache (out of five) under a large rock exchanging a necklace for a set of three rubber thimbles. We were also very grateful to our wonderful leaders who planted their own geocache for us to find on the top of Corn Du (or should I say the geocache planted by HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, also visited by the Earl of Wessex, Superman and the majority of our leaders) as well as the large bottles of water and notes they left us along the route to keep us going and really make it feel like a treasure hunt.
Then of course there was the navigation. Now, it wouldn’t be a true Duke of Edinburgh expedition if we didn’t get horrendously lost at least once and this was no exception. We did however manage to rectify this by trekking through what seemed like miles of jungle and dense woodland to be told at the other end that if we kept going the way we were we wouldn’t be finished walking until ten o’clock that evening and therefore wouldn’t be back in our beds until one o’clock in the morning. It wasn’t that we were walking all that slow just that we had gone a little off course and so weren’t actually that far along our route, encouragingly summed up by our leaders as “maximum effort, minimal results”.
However, we did make it and in relatively good time and I would say that if any of you get the chance to go to the Brecon Beacons and haven’t already, I would definitely take it. Stood up on the highest point in South Wales, staring at the stunning scenery with views to die for. It really takes your breath away. Among my highlights would be finding a genuine geocache, climbing a mountain and trekking through the woods (as well of course as a little late night music making and good old show and tell) 🙂