Hello to you! Welcome to the latest update on what the DisTIL team have been up to!
At the end of last week, we began planning for our ‘Basic Expedition Leader’ (BEL) qualifying expedition which entails three days of walking, two nights of camping and everything else in-between. Once we found out that we would be walking in the Derbyshire area, we began planning routes and searched for a campsite. There was also a fair amount of paperwork to finish off before we could hand our folders into the assessor. We checked the weather forecast and discovered that we should expect rain at some point on every day of the expedition. So, despite being keen for the expedition, the results could have been better. Nevertheless, once everything was in place we could relax for the weekend.
Monday came around and it was an early start to set off at 8am. It had been raining for most of the night but we got in the minibus hoping and praying that the clouds would clear. A few hours and a couple of naps later we arrived at the start point surrounded by hills which was quite a different landscape to the flat scenes of Oxfordshire. We met our assessor Kin and after a quick chat and introduction we were ready to set off on the walk and, thankfully, the rain had stopped.
We walked up and down hills, each of us taking a turn to lead the group and the rain held off. Things were going well until we encountered a slight problem. We were halfway through a forest when the path we were supposed to be taking disappeared... after a few minutes of aimless wandering a very helpful man lead us down the hill and out of the forest. Shortly after this the rain began to pour. Despite becoming increasingly soggy we powered along the route until we finally reached the campsite! We quickly put up our tents and cooked and ate dinner before taking shelter in the bistro. The rest of the evening consisted of hot drinks all round and several rounds of cards before heading to bed.
Everyone was pleasantly surprised when we got up in the morning and the skies were blue and it almost felt like summer. After breakfast (porridge for everyone) and a quick chat about the day we set off. We had planned quite a long route which led us once again up and down the hills. It was quite a long day but the weather and fantastic views kept everyone in good spirits, even if a lot of our route turned out to be more challenging than we had expected. At the end of the day we returned to the campsite to enjoy dinner and the remaining daylight with enough time to climb trees and play on the swings just like the adults we’re learning to be.
The final morning was crisp but sunny and the plan for the day was to change our route so that we could see some ‘points of interest’ along the way including the steam trains and the ruins of a castle. The sun continued to shine and all in all we had a great day. We returned to the campsite for a debrief and to finish all of the food we had left! Everyone came away having passed the course after a great few days.
Thanks for reading!