Slow Walk from Lancaster
A couple of years ago I was happily traipsing along between Keld and Reeth. Day 7 of my Coast to Coast walk.
Marvelling at the joy of just being there, when I, and my equally happy companion, met what was clearly a human wall of abject misery.
A line of yellow backed Duke of Edinburgh candidates who professed to finding absolutely no joy in their world.
And so it has been whenever I’ve seen these groups of heavily laden youths, plodding over any hill.
They never appear to be happy.
D of E Gold
Last weekend I was enlightened a little, spending two days with a group of silver DofE candidates on their ‘practice’ three day expedition
A weekend of amusement as boys dashed in random directions with no regard for maps held upside down. Where girls thought the route was only one side of a map and so believed they’d made amazing progress at 10am one morning. So why not stop for lunch?
Boots on their first outing, lost in bogs. Sore feet, blisters.
Backpacks dragged out of grannies attic. Last used when she did her D of E, and children whose experience of walking was only to school and back.
The route was not over high hills, only silver, but still quite a navigation test for the uninitiated. They’d all skipped bronze.
Coincidentally in the rolling hills of South Cumbria where I live. Some ancient lanes and paths I’d never trod on before despite being only a stone’s throw away
Their greatest challenge. Carrying that pack for three days. Or maybe greater was deciding what to throw out when the weight was found to be 50% of their own body weight. How may Mars Bars can you eat in three days?
My greatest challenge? Motivating a delightful group of girls just to keep going. I’m sure that they were quietly thinking ‘it’s alright for you’! With my tiny day pack and warm bed each night my weekend was certainly no hardship.
Adult groups I’ve led have always wanted to ‘be there’. Made up for experience in enthusiasm. Not so my new young friends. ‘My mum made me come’ being the most quoted reason for being there.
But mostly they made it. Walked carrying all their worldly goods. Fed themselves. Slept outside on a nights so cold dawn revealed ice coating the tents. They achieved what they professed at times to be impossible.
Hopefully, by now, they will be looking back and thinking perhaps it was all worth while and perhaps for some it will have sparked an interest in doing more.
As for me, well I’m back with another group in two weeks time.