Blog - 16.08.2016

Ever thought to yourself, “What does the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award involve?” If you’re about embark on your first DofE expedition, read Lucy’s experience, first hand, to see what you can expect.

Finally, we arrived at Lake Bala after a somewhat squashed minibus journey.

We were given a brief talking to about the possible dangers for our trek ahead, from bloodsucking ticks to the importance of not rolling an ankle.

For the first day, we set off on foot from Lake Bala, which is on the west side of the Snowdonia National Park.

We walked over many cattle fields, complete with angry bulls, to picnicking with shaven sheep who didn’t seem to mind our sandwiches.

Despite the numbers of cows and sheep, my most memorable moment would be walking through the ‘bogs’ or ‘marshland’, although it felt more like walking through a massive sponge, the sort that you might wash with – only a lot filthier!

Walking through a swamp was extremely tiresome since every step required a lot more effort, as I didn’t want to become submerged, particular as my backpack felt like a large anchor on my back by this point.

Although the bog-walking was tiresome, it gave me the opportunity to spot a wide variety of wildlife that I wouldn’t have usually seen, such as lizards, frogs, and newts. I have to admit that I did check my boots every so often in case anything had accidently made its new home beneath my, fortunately, dry toes.

Our first night was a wild camp, located at a stunning natural lake called Arenig in the Snowdonia National Park. Although there were no toilets or shower block of any sort, the impressive views of the still and beautiful lake made it all worth while.

After having a well needed night’s sleep, we began our walk early the next day. Although it was the longest day, with a total of 19 miles along an old dismantled railway, it was relatively flat.

We stopped and had our lunch in a sheltered forest since it had started to rain heavily. The rest of the day consisted of continuous biscuit breaks and compass checks. By the last couple of miles, my feet felt like they had turned to stone.

After what seemed like days we finally reached the campsite called Cae Adda in Trawsfynydd. I was soaked, tired and cold. My evening meal of vegetable curry was most welcome; it lifted my spirits and re-energized me.

Next morning, the sun was shining with no evidence of the previous rain that attacked us. We began our walk with the thought of our snug, warm beds and takeaway pizza awaiting us when we got home.

The last day was short but navigationally hard since we were walking around and through several valley floors and hills in the hope to get to our final destination; the seaside!

Another one of my favourite memories was the sea view; it gave everyone the hope to carry on, the closer we got to the sea the nearer we were to finishing.

Finally, we reached our mini bus, which was parked just outside of the historic Harlech Castle. I took off my bag and shoes with a combination of feelings from success to tiredness.

Although our expedition was physically hard, wet and boggy, it was all worthwhile since I had passed my Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

By Lucy Grayston