Monday, 20 February 2012

DofE Practice Expedition - Matt's P.O.V

What many people don't realise is that the Duke of Edinburgh's award expedition is not just about simply turning up and doing it. Before the expedition, lots of hours went in to planning the route, finding places to stay, and sorting out kit. You may at this point be thinking

the forest of dean, there are loads of campsites around there

which is the summer, but - as we know - only people who are hard or stupid go on a practice expedition in the middle of February.  Thus the campsites are nearly all closed. We did eventually find a few places to stay, mainly thanks to Hereford rowing clubRoss on Wye rowing club and a private land owner.  This did however mean that the distances we had to travel were not even for each day:

  • Day 1 = 13 miles
  • Day 2 = 18 miles
  • Day 3 = 28 miles
  • Day 4 = 20 miles
This led to a lot of apprehension on my part, thinking that the 28 mile day was going to be tough and gruelling.  However, what we hadn't factored in when planning the route was the speed of the flow of the water, which helped us dramatically.  We ended up at times being far enough ahead of schedule to be able to put up our feet, and take a half an hour rest, while just drifting down the river.

At the end of the day - as well as putting up tents and cooking dinner -  we also had to shuttle the vehicles to the correct places for the next day.  This involved about 2 hours of driving the land rover and car (because the buses were at TA SKI...but that is another story) each evening, in the dark, along small country roads. 'How boring' you may think - and in one sense you would be correct - but actually it was a bit of time to think and collect myself after a busy day.  Overall I really enjoyed the trip, and I (being slightly odd) particularly enjoyed the planning and preparation, and with copious amounts of lists for various things, we didn't forget anything (we think).

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