If you read My Crazy DofE Adventure, you’ll know I’m currently doing the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award and I recently came back from the real four day expedition!
We left by coach on Sunday the 15th and arrived at Princetown in Dartmoor, where we stayed at a bunkhouse for the night. We were made to edit our map route and we had to relocate our campsites, which weren’t really campsites. They were just areas in the wilderness that the teachers told us were good for camping in and I guess were okay to pee in without getting shot by a farmer. 🙂
Princetown was basically the last time we’d see civilisation for a long long long time. Well, for about four days.
Monday 16th July
This was the first day of the expedition. We set off with our 20kg bags on our backs. As a group, we agreed to maintain positive attitudes since we realised from the practise expedition, complaining and being negative really made hiking seem worse than it was and it was just tiring to listen to. Also the three most slowest people in our group from the practise didn’t come on the real one so that was kind of a plus, in the least rude way possible. 😬
The first day hike was very easy. For the most part, it was flat. I told a story about a Jessi Vee video I watched about Lyme Disease and I warned everyone about ticks but everybody thought I was overreacting.
Quick Rant: Why is there very little talk about Lyme disease?? Do you know the amount of pills you have to take a day if you get diagnosed late? There’s like thirty. I can’t even take two paracetamol pills without having trouble swallowing. And you can get meningitis and strokes and facial paralysis and heart disorders from Lyme disease! What kind of quality of life is that. All from an ugly tick bite.
Our campsite ended up being on a hill, about a thousand feet above sea level, but the walk up was fairly okay. I stayed at the front so that I didn’t feel the need to speed up or so I didn’t feel like a burden to the group. The hike was about four hours when it was supposed to take eight hours. We got to the campsite early, unaware we actually weren’t allowed to arrive early.
We ran out of water so after setting up camp, we ventured down to the reservoir to get water to purify. It was disgusting. There was this cream foam on the edges of the reservoir. It looked like yeast. We went back up to the campsite and the teachers eventually found us after we continuously tried to contact them to tell them we had no water. You know…one
of the most basic and important human needs. They also let us off for arriving early that day with a warning.
This was the best day, personally. The campsite was beautiful. There was a reservoir at the bottom of the mountain with forests and at one point, a herd of horses trotted near to our tents. There was also this horned sheep that kept staring at us and stood on this rock, watching over us all like God. There was also this cave, which I sat on top of to watch the sun set as the rest of my group climbed higher up to the very top of the hill/mountain.
Tuesday 17th July
I woke up early in the morning.
When we packed up our tent, my friend got stung on the wrist by a wasp, which was really what she needed to hike for eight hours. I, therefore, took charge of leading the way with the map, which I was scared about doing at first because it meant I had to actually know what I was doing but I ended up managing the role really well. Until the very end. I had to figure out which of two gates, which were next to each other, we had to go through. It was like an episode of Dora the Explorer. If I still had my Lord Farquaard haircut, it really would have been. I chose the wrong gate, which led us to a wall. There was the rope blocking us from going over the wall. I put my ear close to it to check whether it was an electric fence but I heard no buzzing. My friends said it was just a rope fence so a girl, I’ll call Robin (inside joke) tapped it. Nothing happened. She then grabbed it and let go, screaming. Turns out it was electric. My bad for taking the wrong way. I found our way back to the right path and to the campsite.
The walk was easy but double the length of the first day.
We also saw some cows mating. It can’t be unseen.
At one point, we reached waterpoint, where the teachers would fill our bottles with water. As we were leaving the school bus, back to the rest of our group, we encountered a few dogs. There was a car with the boot wide open, where a dog sat. There were two more dogs behind a fence barking and running up and down along the fence. There was also another brown dog behind the gate we had to get through. A boy in my group looked down and walked straight through, as
fast as possible, stating he “doesn’t f*** with dogs”. I was about to follow him when the dog in the boot jumped out and started running around barking. In that moment, I knew that some serious stuff was gonna go down. It began to run along the fence, biting at the dogs behind it. Robin began to tell it to sit and stay. I strongly believe she’s a dog whisperer. This other girl, I’ll name Diko (also an inside joke), grabbed both my arms and used me as a shield, as she began to scream. The barking dog ran up to us and Diko pushed me towards it. I ran up onto this hill and Robin grabbed the dog’s collar. Diko followed me to the hill and kept screaming. I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so chaotic. The boy, who was with us, was long gone. Robin told us to run through the gate as she had the dog by its collar but then it tried to bite her. She let go and the dog ran to the dogs behind the fence again and started barking. It then ran to us and Diko began to scream and cry. Through laughter, I told her it was going to be okay and she started to cry laugh. She bolted to the gate and Robin, Diko and I went through. The brown dog behind the gate was calm and basically watched us get attacked the entire time. I think Diko trying to sacrifice me to the dogs has got to be the highlight of 2018 for me.
We later walked up a hill and this giant matte black helicopter, that looked like a flying submarine, flew over a hill and very close to us. It was about to land on this field and then flew back over the hill.
Eventually we arrived at the campsite and all the hiking groups were staying there that night (we arrived there first). We actually had a toilet and a tap to fill our water bottles. Robin, Diko and I went exploring and we found this river. There was a rope swing like the one from The Bridge to Terabithia. I kept joking someone was gonna end up like the girl did in the film. I swung on it but I was too short to get down. I managed to get one leg off the wooden bar. I then took off the other, knowing full well that the only thing that would be keeping me up was my hands tight around the rope. I then fell. My back hit a rock and my hat fell into the river and my foot stepped into a little rock pool. I never went on that swing again. Turns out I was the ‘someone’ that would end up like the girl from The Bridge to Terabithia.
In the evening, the whole group went to the rope swing and I sat with Robin on a rock and we watched the river flow down and the flies surround us. We all then walked down a road to this island in the middle of a wide part of the river. We skipped and threw rocks until it was dark.
Wednesday 18th July
The next day was hell. Most of it was uphill and it was a long journey. I’m pretty sure a snake jumped up at me.
About 3/4 of the journey, me and my best friend went insane. We put on Texas accents and played these weird characters and sung really badly to songs blasting out our speaker. We did that for the rest of the journey and the rest of the group got really annoyed but it actually helped
us to pull through the pain.
We finally got to the “campsite”, which was one of the ones that was relocated for us by our DofE leader. It was a hill, with no flat land. There were giant rocks in the ground. And, here’s the cherry on top: there were at least six full dead sheep rotting with bones and skulls everywhere!
We walked for about twenty minutes into our next day walk so we could find a suitable place to sleep. We chose to sleep near spider dens and a forest. It was the closest flat area. There was a great view too – a lovely fresh cow pat right in front of our tent door.
I couldn’t sleep that night. I think I must have fallen asleep at about midnight.
Thursday 19th July
We ran out of water early that day. We hiked to a public toilet, where we were told that “the tap water is like the drinking water at home”. We filled our water bottles and found it was slightly yellow. Nothing is better than a hint of urine in your water. It’s basically like squash. Everyone poured their bottles out but I, for some reason, decided to use a purifying tablet to clear any bacteria. The water tasted like chlorine. It was worse than pool water and I know that because I’ve downed tons of pool water before. Me and three others walked to a house to ask for water. I heard someone in the house but they didn’t come to the door. We then bumped into a mountain rescuer, who helped us out with our water predicament.
The hike was a hard start and I got tired very early. It was so hot and the SPF I was wearing melted into my eyeballs. I also, stupidly, wore mascara that day (and it was the only day I wore makeup) so I was basically blinded by melting SPF and mascara. My eyes kept tearing up and my nose was running a lot so we ended up sitting at the top of the hill for about an hour. Everyone was tired from the heat.
After all the this, we had to go down the hill. If you remember from my practise expedition post, I told you about this hardcore girl, which led us down a mountain. That girl was Robin and on this day, I ended up being the “hardcore Robin”. Since I chose to be at the front, I led everyone down the hill of fern and giant rocks. The fern were taller than me so my friend, behind me, had to tell me the direction to aim for. We all travelled down in single file and Diko slipped. We all stopped and turned back to her. She didn’t move for a while and in my head, I thought, well this is it, this is the day I may be responsible for someone’s death. Fortunately, she got up and said her butt hurt.
As we reached water point, we saw a lot of pregnant horses. A lot. They must have had a wild
We made it back to the bunkhouse and we all showered and ate pizza. Me and Diko went a little crazy but that’s another story to tell for another day.
We drove home on Friday.
Although, during the hikes, I hated it, overall, it was an amazing experience. I came back toned and I think my body is used to the extreme amount of exercise we did because my body doesn’t hurt and I’m able to do a lot that would have made me tired quickly, before. I also came back with my skin glowing.
And I realised how mentally strong and positive of a person I can be, which was a nice self discovery.
I hope I didn’t get Lyme Disease though.