November 11, 2021

DofE Gold expeditions – walking and canoeing

Nine boys in Year 12 and 13 spent four days walking in the Lake District in two teams – Foxtrot and Golf – during half term. Their supervisor and assessor both said they were the best DofE teams that they had worked with in their lifetime! Peter Lister ML commented

“Without exception they were all switched on and engaged. Despite being constantly damp their spirts were high. I particularly enjoyed their inquisitiveness and interested questions. The boys all coped with the conditions and contributed to their teams, be it as a navigator, camp sirdar or team motivator.
The boys had to negotiate very wet weather and some steep climbs around Buttermere. Had they finished a day later they would have been swimming along the footpath alongside Derwent Water.”
Which is what most of the canoeists were doing in Knockando rapids on day three of their 90 km canoe trip down the River Spey in the second week of half term. Having braved a cold night the ten canoeists – eight Year 13 boys and two Year 12 girls from Westfield School – had launched their boats at Aviemore, pitched their tents 20 km down river and then continued on day two another 25 km without a capsize to Cragganmore, even managing to stay afloat through the rapids called Washing machine.
Knockando rapids were renamed ‘nothing-you-can-do’ when four of the six canoes turned over, including the two members of staff. Yet they still managed 27 km to the final wild camp before dusk, just 17 km short of the finish at Spey Bay. Squally winds battered the campsite and persisted on day four so that Martin Simpson of Simonside Outdoor Adventure decided to finish the expedition 8 km short of the sea at Fochabers bridge.
Some of the feedback comments noted how they learned a lot about kit as prior to the expedition they had no idea what to pack or how to put up a tent. Many had far less previous experience because of the pandemic.
A favourite comment was a canoeist’s poetic description of his best moment canoeing down the river on the first day:
“The water was like a mirror and was incredibly calm and smooth along with the countryside – it was just an amazing moment”
Many thanks to walking instructors Rob Simpson and Peter Lister and to Martin Simpson, Kirstie Macmillan and Iain Arthur of Simonside Outdoor Adventure. Also thanks to Mrs Harris at Westfield School and the NSB team of DofE leaders –  Mr Drax and Miss Thompstone and Mr Tucker, .
Congratulations and Non SiBi to the 19 successful participants:

Team Foxtrot – Spike C, Thomas D, Jock E, Oliver P
Team Golf- Adam H, Oliver L, Rowan M, Joshua M-R, Thomas N
Team Non SiBi- Siel C and Jess G, James A and Marcus H, Euan C and Daniel F, Jagveer H and Gabe Q, George P and Ed T