A DofE expedition ... Pandemic style

In December two groups braved the cold weather in order to complete their Gold DofE practice expedition ... ‘pandemic style’. The pandemic rules allowed for a winter expedition, meaning we were able to sleep indoors rather than in tents. It also meant that we were able to do a Gold practice expedition locally rather than in wild country (in places like the Brecon Beacons or Dartmoor). So, hand sanitiser, hand soap and masks at the ready, we set out to complete the expedition!

From Friday to Sunday the ‘Vangos’ (Seb H, Antrita P, Rosie C, Will D and Christina L) spent three days hiking. Each day we set off at around 9am and had different hills and challenges to face: our routes included local features such as Devil’s Dyke, Chanctonbury Ring and Cissbury Ring and we found ourselves walking through pig farms, passing metal war bunkers and coping with thick mist along the way. Our aim was to take pictures of some of the views from the trip and complete pencil drawings, some of which were beautiful riverside masterpieces, and others we labelled ‘abstract’ as they got caught in the rain. At the end of each day, at around 4pm, we arrived back at College and raced each other to put our tents up first and get the stove on with our Wayfayrer meals. Over the three days we walked a good distance, getting well acquainted with mud, but motivated each other to ensure the whole team succeeded.

The 'History Hots' (Jake C, Abby H, Luci S and Amelia P) aimed to investigate the history of the local area so we planned our routes around sites like Bramber Castle, Edburton Hill Motte and Bailey and Chanctonbury Ring. On the first day the forecasts were for rain, which thankfully did not materialise, so the group swiftly walked from Partridge Green back to the College. Lunch was taken at Bramber Castle, where Jake improvised some extra foot-padding from a spare face mask to provide comfort for the last stretch. Whilst walking along the riverbank near the College, we crossed paths for a while with the other group, until they found a bench on which to tackle their aim of drawing the scenery. After that it was a short walk until we arrived at the College and set up camp, where we had a lovely chilli con carne.

On day two camp was quickly packed up and Jake provided us with some snacks to enjoy on the journey. By 8.30am the group was on route towards Saddlescombe. Whilst it was not the longest day, this was arguably the hardest as it contained the most hill climbing of all the days. The weather was dry and crisp, and very chilly at the top of a hill. Lunch was taken at Edburton Hill Motte and Bailey and saw us leave at the right time as, when we stood up, a herd of sheep had just joined us hopeful for some food. We finished the day with sunshine and being driven back to the College, where we enjoyed classic pasta with tomato sauce.

On the last day the weather held long enough for us to pack up camp and be driven to our start point near Chanctonbury Ring. The climb started off with dry but cold weather and worsened to strong winds when we reached the Ring. Luckily, the weather remained relatively dry and the wind lightened up when we descended from Chanctonbury. The walk was kept at a brisk pace with all of us working together to reach the end of the route.

Overall, the team worked seamlessly together in the completion of our routes and aim. 

Christina L and Amelia P, DofE Ambassadors at Lancing College