Over the last few days, some of our Explorers have been celebrating their post-GCSE freedom with an entirely youth-led camp in Dorset. Check out their blog post below:
On Wednesday evening we met for Explorers as usual. Once the meeting had finished and all the equipment had been packed away, us five (Lawrence, Jonah, Max, Charlie and I) gathered together to decide which tents to use, since we would be staying at Scout Park for that night. We opted for camping in a bell tent and set it up, despite the sudden rain that threatened to completely drench us. Meanwhile, a couple of us were getting our dinner prepped and cooked. We made fajitas with Quorn chicken which were very successful. Once we had all finished eating and washed up all the food kit, we went to sleep in the bell tent, which was very spacious since it was only being used by five of us! It was a relaxing evening and a nice way to continue the night after the Explorers meeting.
The next morning we got up bright and early at 5:50 to pack up camp. With bags on backs we then set off for the train station (having said goodbye to Charlie, who wasn’t joining us for the latter part of the camp). We negotiated the rush hour tube traffic and arrived at the station in time to grab some crucial falafel from the supermarket. Praise Baden-Powell we were successful.
A quick train journey later we arrived at Wareham station, Dorset, and hurried to catch the hourly bus. Having provided entertainment for all travelers with rucksack Tetris in the baggage area, we arrived at Tom’s Field campsite and set up our tents. Sheltering under our sun-shading tarp we played cards and ate lunch before heading off to climbing.
We all changed into trainers and shorts for the climbing, and packed a bag with dinner ingredients, the stoves and all the water bottles that we had. Our plan was to find somewhere with a view to cook and eat after the climbing session.
After a short walk from Tom’s Field to the climbing centre, we met our instructor, grabbed all the equipment we would need and headed down to Dancing Ledge, where we would be climbing. The instructor started us off by setting up an abseil, and we then lowered ourselves down to a wide ledge just above the level of the sea. We then climbed a selection of routes back up the cliff we had abseiled down, some of which the instructor set up at our request.
Having finished the session, we coiled ropes, packed away nuts, hexes and carabiners and headed back up the steep path to the center. We had decided that we would cook our dinner looking down over Dancing Ledge, so Eddie lugged the water-laden rucksack back up, only for it to be brought back down again a few minutes later.
The location was worth the effort though, and we cooked and ate a really good almost-carbonara, before heading back to the campsite as the sun set.
An early start on Friday morning at 6:30am got us up and eager for the hike that had been planned for the day ahead. We packed up camp and our tarp, and set off within an hour of waking up, eating a breakfast of brioche as we walked. The hike was 9.8km long, and with its steep ascents and descents and our heavy backpacks, we predicted a three and a half hour journey time. We set off on the path towards Dancing Ledge, the cliff face which we had been climbing on the previous day. After that we trekked along the edge of the cliff, around the south and east coast of Dorset. Despite the difficult land features, the hike was a lot of fun and we enjoyed each other’s company. We arrived at our final destination of Swanage Beach to the pleasant surprise that we had completed the walk within two hours.
The walk had been planned so that not only did it finish at a train station from which we could get to London, but so that the finish point was next to the sea. Having quickly changed out of our sweaty clothes and into our swimming costumes, we all ran into the water. After the heat of the hike, reaching temperatures of 27°C, the cold sea was extremely enjoyable. Thanks to the fact that we had arrived an hour and a half ahead of schedule, we had plenty of time to play in the ocean before heading towards the train station for the journey home.