Shrewsbury School

D of E Gold Award Expeditions

Thursday 27 June 2013

Gold DofE Sea Kayaking in North Wales, June 2013Last week saw another successful week of Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award expeditions, with the completions of practices by the sea kayak team and the two teams of walkers.

The sea kayakers started on Llyn Padarn, North Wales, where they had an afternoon of revision looking at boat handling and rescues. Given that the last time they were paddling was some months ago on Lake Bala, they did particularly well. The weather held and the sun shone as the students ran through a number of scenarios ranging from accidental capsize, to simulated shoulder injury and dealing with an unconscious casualty.

The sea kayaking phase started in earnest from a pretty campsite on Holy Island, Anglesey. They began with a rather long portage to the beach, where the team packed up boats for a full expedition, probably in excess of 50kgs of kit per person. The day was spent practising navigation and group management along the coast west from Borthwen. Highlights included some close encounters with the locals: the large grey Atlantic seals, numerous jelly fish species, and a huge population of sea birds.

The remainder of the trip was punctuated with further portages and overnight camps. The high point was most definitely the opportunity to paddle one of the classic sea kayak trips of the British Isles - ‘The Stacks’, which included both North and South Stack on the very Western end of Anglesey. The dramatic towering sea cliffs were riddled with numerous caves and inlets, and the local seals followed the team with curiosity as we pottered around the headland. Normally this section of the coast is far less benign as it marks the junction where a number of strong tides meet, making the sea rather ‘lumpy’, as one team member described.

Gold DofE Sea Kayaking in North Wales, June 2013

The final day was spent in hiding on the Straits, as the UK was blasted with force 6-7 gusting winds from the South West. It proved rather more exciting than the team anticipated, with fast currents and frequent gusts of salty air, but it certainly brought smiles to everyone’s faces.The team coped extremely well and had a very successful practice. We all now look forward to the qualifying expedition in Scotland later this year.  Thanks goes to Nick Cunliffe from Kayak Essentials for looking after us all so well and keeping us safe.

Team members: Lucy Petch, Lizzie Price, Amelia Woodruff, Andrew Spicer, Charlotte Perkins, Tom Miller, Henry Carter

Charlotte Perkins and Tom Miller

Above: Charlotte Perkins (EDH LVI) and Tom Miller (Rb LVI)

The walkers had a very different experience high up in Snowdonia. Having spoken with Martin Digby their instructor, it seems the team had “four seasons in one day... every day”! Blasted with strong winds, hidden in thick fog, warmed by the summer sun, and rained on heavily like a sub-tropical monsoon, the team got it all. 

The nine students started with a night in a hostel in Betws-y-coed, where they spent some time studying maps in great detail and devising a three-day practice expedition over the Carneddau mountain range where they all had the opportunity to practise navigation, personal hill skills and camping in the rain. Martin threw additional challenges at the team, including a range of scenarios that they could very well face on the qualifying expedition later this year in the dark peak area of the Peak District.

Again, it was a successful few days. The team are now as prepared as they possibly can be. Well done to all!  Thanks goes to Martin Digby for his expertise keeping the team free from harm, and as ever Wendy Dolan, our very helpful volunteer who is always ready to step up when called upon.

Team members: Peter Evans, Jack Franklin, Victoria Horbach, Eli Rhys-Davies, Chris Papaioannou, Natalie Seager, Jonny Shaw, Rob Treasure and Jay Cherukat

Maj Jo Billington

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