If you read my last post, I mentioned I was going to do my DofE Gold Practise Expedition. I had previously done my Bronze Award, which I found hard at the time. However, looking back, I don’t know why the hell I complained. Bronze was a lovely stroll in the park in comparison to gold.
🚨 Spoiler Alert: I Survived 🚨
(Some images I insert will be a little blurry since I took it while walking and they’re screenshots of videos I took.)
As I mentioned before, I was on my period during this trip. I honestly don’t care if that’s too much information because I think it’s important to mention that I was BLEEDING while walking for more than eight hours. Also, it was the second day, so if you’re a girl, you probably know that it was f̶r̶e̶a̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶N̶i̶a̶g̶ar̶a̶ ̶F̶a̶l̶l̶s heavy. 😂
We drove by coach to Brecon Beacons in Wales, which if you google, looks like an amazing and gorgeous place. And it was. But now, I hate it from association with the trip…
When we got to the campsite, we set up our tent. There was mould all over the inner bit of the tent. So basically, we slept under lovely fungus. On the plus side, if any of us had a bacterial infection, we could just make some penicillin with the fungus. 🙃
We then planned our route for the next day and mapped out how we were going to get to the next campsite. I worked out the six figure grid reference for each checkpoint and others did the distance calculations and time calculations. We ended up working out that we would only be walking for three hours, when we were supposed to walk for at least eight hours. This made us really happy because it meant we could take long breaks.
We were wrong.
Chilling at the campsite on the first day was actually fun. We played charades and this weird ball game and paranoia. We thought the trip was going to be fun and happy.
Again, we were wrong.
The next day, we set off with our approximately 15 kg bags on our backs, which didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. Our group was made up of entirely girls and we were accompanied by this teacher, we decided to call Gertrude. Gertrude told us “we don’t need breaks.” I was just like OMG THAT WAS SO FUNNY HAHA GERTRUDE YOU’RE SO FUNNY AHAHAHSAHSKA.
I didn’t like Gertrude.
The walking was fine. There was a lot of poo and nettles and thorns, which we all precariously tried to avoid. I tried to stay at the front of the group as I found being at the back made you feel more tired since you feel like you need to speed up. And then we reached a freaking mountain.
We knew we would have to climb up something steep due to the close contour lines on our map but I don’t really know why we didn’t think about the mountains that were surrounding us. So we climbed up a freaking mountain. I was so shook at this point that I started playing Shrek in my head to calm myself down from the fact we were climbing a steep mountain that went on for ages with 15 kg bags on our backs. We had a two minute break halfway up the mountain and my friend swapped the tent she was carrying with the stove I was carrying. We carried on climbing with frequent intervals of “Oh my God”s. And then we reached the top. I don’t even remember if we had a break after that. We started walking on the mountain, going a little uphill until we reached the clouds.
We did eventually walk through the clouds and it was very cold and wet but I strangely enjoyed it. We passed forests and reservoirs and it was very pretty but went on for AGES! I walked with one of my friends at the front, which was a good choice because it meant I could have breaks when we waited for others to catch up. Also, our hands got really fat from wind burn. It looked like the hands of a chubby baby. I also noticed that I actually have a lot of endurance and am so much stronger than I thought I was, both mentally and physically.
aND TheN wE hAd a BreAk!
Gertrude, the teacher, left us “to get coffee” and we were left on our own. We sat in the same position for about twenty minutes, which would have probably made Gertrude cry and faint. We looked at our map and decided to rebel against the route Gertrude suggested because we thought we were clever. We were going to take a short cut.
We went down a steep side of the mountain in a zig-zag formation, avoiding burrows, poo, sheep, nettles, thorns, this Prometheus alien like flower and slippery rocks. We were all travelling in single file. At the front, leading the way, was the friend I walked with before and my god, she was so hardcore. Then my best friend was second, who called out what to avoid and was looking at the map. Then it was me, who managed to end up still falling into holes and walking into faeces, even after being told to avoid it and then I would tell others to avoid it and then a friend behind me would pass the message along to the rest of the group.
We then crossed paths with a skeleton. There was a skull, ribs, spine, limbs, the whole shebang. And there was blood. Everywhere! I guess that’s what happens when you decide to take a different route…(it was a sheep or small horse skeleton though, don’t worry!) Close by, was what looked like a human poo. Maybe someone else saw the skeleton and got a bit too scared…?
(Image of the skeleton to the right)
At first, it was okay. And then it got steeper and we became more impatient. We went further down the mountain, where it was practically vertical. I slipped and grabbed onto a giant clump of crap for dear life. At this point, in the words of Gemma Collins, I realised that actually this is serious stuff. I just thought haha, this is not for me.
This sounds like an exaggeration but we were very close to death.
After ages of slipping and zig-zagging, we made the decision to just head straight down, instead of going across the mountain diagonally. Two people chucked on waterproof trousers and slid down the flipping mountain. I carelessly, grabbed onto thorns and nettles to you know, avoid dying. I just didn’t care anymore. I even let spiders of all colours crawl on me. (I have red spots from it all over my arms, legs and hands, now. 😂)
We trekked down this very very steep path of nettles, which was low down so the mountains were high up on the sides of us. The path slowly faded into a stream, which became more slippery as you went down it. So, without hesitation, we all, one by one, ROCK CLIMBED up, vertically, without a rope, with 15 freaking kg bags, to get on top of the mountain again. We rock climbed! I’m still shocked by it since that’s something I would never have done without a safety rope.
We ran down the rest of the mountain to a path at the bottom and finally had a break on this patch of grass that was in the shape of a sofa.
And then we went through a gate
into private property.
We didn’t know this at the time until we were about half way through the field. I’ve been told by several people that you can get arrested for trespassing, since it is illegal, and farmers could shoot you if you do. We saw two farmers with dogs at the bottom of the field so we travelled incognito, laying low (with my bright yellow raincoat and giant pink hat) to avoid dying, which seemed very likely during this trip.
We sprinted across onto another field, while this horse that probably belonged to the farmers followed us and watched us. The horse was a little snakey snitch. We dashed over a fence onto a road, where there was a sign saying “Do Not Enter (the field)! Warning of Danger!” I think it would have been a little nice if we saw that before.
We trotted along the road, happily, shooketh to the core at all we just went through, and then a white van passed us. Not that type of van though…
There were a few of our teachers in there. They stopped and one came out, who told us to wait. He went back into the van and as he did, we legged it down the road. I really don’t know why. We literally ran from the teachers and I honestly don’t know why we thought we would succeed because we were so goddamn slow. The teacher ended up following us to the campsite since we were about three hours late. Finally we got to the campsite, where everyone clapped as we got there. It took us twelve hours! So much for taking three hours with loads of long breaks… 😂
The campsite toilets were disgusting though! 😂 There were giant spiders everywhere, dead flies all over the ceiling, either mud of poop smeared on the walls, period blood dripping on one wall of the cubicle, water that smelt like sewage, and “windows” without glass. A giant flying daddy long legs entered one while my friend was on the toilet and she screamed and ran out and we were all running from side to side, screaming, as it followed us.
The next day was a little less exhilarating and a little more painful. We climbed up mountains at least three times (the 3rd time was torture) and a male sheep almost charged at us. So yeah…
How was your weekend?