On Friday night our group of intrepid Silver participants set of for the borders for their expedition..
A 4pm meet time was all good, until we nearly fell at the first hurdle, as the minibus keys had been safely stored in a mug!! Keys found, minibus loaded and off we set.. Everything looked great as we left sunny Eccles for Hereford until the clouds burst and it rained all the way. It didn’t matter, tents were erected on arrival and a dash out to the local take-away meant everyone was pizza’d up, especially Dan S, who seemed able to finish of everyones leftovers!
8am on a Saturday morning isn’t every teenagers idea of a leisurely start, but that’s when we all had to be on the minibus, breakfast of bacon or sausage sandwiches from the adult support helped tempt us out, but it was still early! We also all had our little ducks from Brainwave to help promote their charity work, Paul kept calling himself “Papa Duck” and referring to us all as ducklings, and the campsites as nests!!!!
Once at Hereford rowing club it was pair up, load up and get started. Stuart from Wye canoes was slightly late, but once there it was buoyancy aids, paddles and load up. The sun shone, we suddenly had to get covered in sun screen and of we set. The first day was our longest paddle and back to where we’d camped the night before.. The adults had left all their tents set up, but we’d have to set up camp when back there tonight! As we paddled down the river we met lots of fishermen, all sorts of different wildlife and the sun shone down on us. When we got back to Tressicks Farm it was get sorted and set up. The facilities were basic, portaloos and standpipes, but we’re Duke of Edinburgh participants, so a little rough we can cope with. It was Martin Coops birthday, so a quick rendition of Happy Birthday and then it was touch rugby and chatting.
Sunday morning was a shorter paddle, but the sun still shone and we were all ready on time. Of we set.. Yet again, lots of fishermen and an abundance of wildlife, we also saw hundreds of swans and geese plus kingfishers, moorhens and dragonflies + midges (lots of then). Each group had an aim for the expedition, so we concentrated on looking at that, taking photographs and preparing our presentations. In the evening we camped at Ross Rowing Club, the luxury was unbelievable, toilets in a building, sinks with hot and cold running water + showers! We all made through use of these facilities and again played rugby and for some reason 1 of us went swimming in the Wye.
Day 3 and another early start for everyone! We were away and on the water for 8am, no mean feat for 16 teenagers.. The sun was again shining and the wildlife was ever present, as were the fishermen. This day was more of a challenge as we had bends in the river and some shallows and rapids to be negotiated. More pictures and discussions about aims as we travelled, but the sun was shining, until the heavens opened and we found wet weather gear more important than sunscreen! The showers continued on and off for the afternoon and until we finally arrived at Symonds Yat.
We, once again, helped each other unload canoes, move kit and then get the canoes out of the water and packed away. A quick use of the changing facilities and we were ready to get on the minibus home, the drinks and haribos and assorted other treats were a bonus, but nothing compares to the feeling of being told by the assessor that you’ve passed, and we all did!
Thank you to Marianne and Paul the adult leaders, Sue, Suzanne and Stuart for help with the paddling and Vivienne + Hilary for the on land check point manning and moral boosts. We’d also like to thank Mike for being our assessor plus Wye canoes and Tim for their time.
Are we going for Gold? Yes, many of us have already signed on the dotted line and are planning our residential, where we want to go for expedition and all other aspects of our challenges.