Last Friday, a gaggle of 40-odd young people plus Leaders descended upon Scout Park. After piling into minibuses we all drove as speedily as possible up to the Peak District for a weekend of adventure and activity based at the Gradbach Scout Centre.
After arriving on Friday evening at roughly 10pm, we quickly got settled in and set up for the next few days. The centre itself was a small converted farmhouse which ended up a very snug fit for the very large Unit! There were 3 bunkrooms for Explorers, a common room which the Leaders slept in and a kitchen which we somehow managed to make work for the whole 50-strong group.
Saturday morning we were up bright and early to start the first day of activities – powered by cereal and croissants we embarked on hikes ranging from 10 to around 30 km in length, which took up most of the day. Our longest hiking group even managed to summit all three of the White Peak’s highest summits (a dizzying 500m above sea level at the highest point…)! That evening we enjoyed a well-deserved meal of fish and chips from the local chippy, before heading out to explore the local caverns featured in a famous Arthurian fable.
On Sunday we were off doing a variety of activities in different groups – some were cycling, some were on a cave tour and others were abseiling.
Abseiling in the Peak District could be described in one word – picturesque. We were abseiling off of a viaduct that was specially adapted for abseiling. As we arrived at the top of the viaduct we gazed down at the descent before us and the scenery surrounding it. Although this was very tranquil, the descent was full of adrenaline. Rappelling down had an incredible feel of Mission Impossible-style importance, and the sense of accomplishment once we finished was overwhelming, and we could once again take in that beautiful scenery, from a much closer and calming perspective. The whole experience was both terrifying and amazing at the same time, with the perfect amount of balance.
After all getting back from the day’s fun at about 3pm we packed up our stuff sharpish and sped off down back toward London, hoping to make it back for 7pm. However, disaster struck, just as we were about to pass Northampton (an hour or so out from Scout Park), one of the minibuses broke down – and so began the surprise logistical nightmare of calling in favours and ferrying a busload of Explorers to Watford Gap services. Big thanks to Dan from 9th Muswell Hill for driving his minibus up to make sure everyone got back safely from an otherwise fantastic weekend!