From Monday 4 April – Friday 8 April 2022, Lower Sixth students Aoife, Daisy, Hazel, Thalya, Lili and Alexandra, who chose canoeing for the Expedition section of their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, were accompanied by Mr David Earles and Mrs Keren Butler at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.
Wednesday saw the start of the Practice Expedition where the girls were left to navigate the waters, learning how to paddle, steer and what to do if the canoe capsized. Mrs Butler noted: “Thursday gave the girls some quite tricky winds and rain to tackle, so their instructor, Mark, tied the three canoes together so that they could get through the elements as one vessel. It was an incredibly tough day and we were all extremely proud of the way the girls handled the situation. Friday brought sunshine and the knowledge that it was their last day so putting Thursday behind them, they had a positive last day.”
Aoife commented: “While the Expedition challenged everyone both physically and mentally, it was a fantastic learning experience which brought everyone closer and taught us all how to work as a team. We ended our Expedition feeling exhilarated, and excited.”
Meanwhile, walking Expedition students Abigail, Naomi, Aimée, Katie and Emily (2020) were accompanied to the Dark Peaks by Mr Glyn Gower, their leader and Mrs Georgina Brocklehurst from Sunday 3 - Friday 8 April. For the first three days, the students walked with their leader, Mr Gower, enjoying consolidating their navigation skills in the beautiful hills around the campsite and learning tips for wet, windy weather.
Mrs Brocklehurst stated: “It was pretty good weather when we set off but we knew that was not going to continue. We had appalling conditions with constant drizzle, rain, hail, strong winds and poor visibility. Did it phase the girls? Not a jot. It was almost as though the worse it was, the more positive and good humoured they were. These girls are tough, determined, positive and downright cheerful when most would not be. What inspirational girls they are, and what a pleasure it was to ‘accompany’ them (I was able to stay dry in the minibus).”
Abigail commented: “One of my favourite parts was the night walk, to practice leapfrogging in poor visibility. I really enjoyed exploring in the darkness. The second day of training was more challenging. After crossing a bog in the morning (fortunately we were clean by lunchtime, though), we spent a day walking up hills on sometimes non-existent footpaths. Once we had learned and practised all the skills we needed for safely walking, crossing rivers and bogs and dealing with emergencies, we began our Practice Expedition to put them to use. The weather gradually improved for our practice, with rain usually only in the mornings and less hail than before. The first afternoon, along the banks of a stunning reservoir, was definitely a highlight for me. After a little snow and a fair bit of walking, it was the final day, and the sun came out as we climbed Mam Tor, with paragliders whizzing around us. As we descended our final hill and bade a final farewell to the sheep, it was sad to leave the beautiful landscape behind.”