Gold DofE Dark Peaks Practice Expedition

Gold DofE Dark Peaks Practice Expedition

Whilst others were setting off on their half term holidays, two groups of Lower Sixth girls were heading off early on the Saturday morning to the Peak District and the Dark Peaks for their Gold Duke of Practice Expedition lasting five days and four nights.  Rain and bad weather were anticipated; however, the girls were very lucky - apart from some chilly winds, the days were mostly dry and the nights were wet.   

After a long journey, the girls were definitely excited to get going.  They met their leaders before walking to see their first Dark Peaks and setting up camp.  The girls could now really appreciate the beauty of the Dark Peaks, with larger and more defined hills than the White Peak area.  After a kit check the groups enjoyed a takeaway curry and settled down for their first night under canvas. 

Sunday was training day, so, at what felt like too early for a Sunday morning, they set off to their start point.  They day was spent improving their compass and map-reading confidence, whilst also seeing some great views of reservoirs and valleys.  Later that night, the Lower Sixth students went out for a pub dinner which was a delicious last bit of indoor warmth for the next few days.



The weather was exceedingly kind throughout the weekend – the girls managed to avoid getting rained on for the entirety of their Practice, although some of the winds at the top of the hills were very fierce.  On Monday, with training over, the students hiked up what must have felt like the steepest, longest hill they had ever walked; Lose Hill and Mam Tor - both of which had some truly gorgeous views from the top, with spectacular views for miles in all directions - very much worth the exhausting climb. 

The second day proved to be the most challenging day to navigate.  The students spent some of their time trudging through the heather in search of a path but as their group leader, Helen, would say, all the best explorers get lost sometimes, and despite the soggy boots it all adds to the adventure.  After a challenging descent into a valley, the girls reached the campsite. 

Gemma (L6CSK) says “It can be tough being up in the hills and not knowing where you are and tempers can fray, but we learnt how to work better as a group in the future - coming together at the end of the day to evaluate and reassess how you approach challenges is an essential part of the experience.” 


The third day with a spring in their (very sore) feet - they were now on the home stretch.  The weather was a bit greyer, and the last day served as more of a mental challenge - staying positive when faced with the cold and grey.  Many excellent pep talks later, the girls reached the bridleway that would lead them to the collection point and, after climbing one last hill, they reached the end triumphant. 

Amelia (L6CSK) reflects, saying “Although we were tired, we were all feeling sad for it to soon be over and surprisingly slightly wishing we had another night ahead of us!”  Amelia also adds “Overall our Gold DofE Practice Expedition was challenging and tough at times, but an experience to remember, full of many laughs and beautiful views.  We are definitely proud of ourselves and each other, and finished with even tighter friendships than when we began.” 

Gemma (L6CSK) also comments; “Gold DofE certainly is a challenge, and not only in the physical sense.  Working with a group who you may not be close with when tired and under stress and keeping positive are difficult things - but they only add to the greater sense of achievement when you finish.” 

The Lower Sixth students truly enjoyed their Practice and are excited for the Assessed Expedition in April.