A Wild Weekend

Wales, wild camping, and walking? Sounds like a great way to spend a few days, as some of our Explorers found out this weekend…

The trip began with a long drive and, as is camp tradition, the whole bus joined in singing along to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. However, apparently arriving at nearly midnight doesn’t warrant access to the main campsite, so we were confined to the late arrival area beside the river. After a short stargazing session, we all happily headed off to bed.

We arose the next morning and, stubbornly ignoring the grey overcast sky, our spirits were high. After eating an assortment of pastries and freshly baked baguettes (yum), we were on our way.

We started our hike by leaving Beddgelert on a relatively flat path that took us by a few of the beautiful surrounding Welsh lakes, but before long we found ourselves trekking uphill through patches of bog disguised as grass. However this gave us the perfect opportunity to practice our micro navigation (and to learn the valuable lesson that field boundaries and footpaths are not always correctly marked on the map!) A few kilometres and a carb loading session later – also known as lunch – we reached a ‘Grand Designs-esque’ farmhouse where we split into two groups…

For our group’s route, we each led for a leg to developed our navigation skills. Max led the way first, paving a route though open fields, bogs and streams, following a path which didn’t seem to physically exist. At one point on the hike, Ned got a little thirsty, and, rather than using his water bottle like a normal person, decided to kneel down and use the stream. Purely ‘accidentally’, some well placed boots from the group left him helpless on his backpack, limbs flailing like a beetle.

Continuing our hike, we passed the lovely Llyn Llagl and quickly summited Craig Llyn-Llagl. Whilst we admired the small lake on the summit, Ned endeavoured to jump onto a little island. Not one to think things through, with a running jump he made it, only to realise this would not work on the way back, as there was no room for a runway. With a walking pole crane having extracted his boots from danger, he made the leap. Teenage hormones pumping, he reached the shore, but quickly slipped off, in the the water. After a quick change we continued to our wild camping spot by a lake.

– Lawrence

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Our group’s adventure was slightly more civilised. Leaving the other group behind we put our micro navigation to the test as we attempted to stay on the correct bearing in order to get to the meeting point. Some non existent field boundaries and ambiguous paths later, we took in the astounding view of Llyn Llagi and wondered about the upcoming evening over a snack of sugar in several forms. Beating the other group to the Llynnau’r Cwn (the meeting point) we decided to scope out all of the potential campsites, eventually deciding on one with a sea view and, most importantly, phone signal.

– Megan

We pitched our tents and most of us spent the following hours cooking dinner and playing newly-invented survival shelter rugby. While washing up in the lake nearby, Will discovered a strange, glow in the dark, jelly-like alien species; soon named the donutus extraterrestrialis. Esme, however, managed to sleep through all this excitement and finally awoke from her nap to find that the rest of us had decided to get an early night.

The next morning we were woken up at the ungodly hour of 5:30am, making us all extremely thankful for getting that early night. After striking camp, we set off into the hills looking forward to another day of exploring the Snowdonian landscape. Making the peak of Cnicht just before nine o’clock, we had made good time and so rewarded ourselves with Skittles and other sugary snacks before planning our descent.

Skree, woods and bog failed to halt us as we crashed through the undergrowth down into the valley, where we gratefully sank into a wooded clearing full of bluebells for lunch.

At Wild Wolf, houmous is an extremely important part of lunch – no, life. However, the pronunciation of the word has become a very controversial issue… hoo • mus, hum• mus and huh • mus were all suggested pronunciations but even relentless debating could not sway anyone’s position.

We then set off on the last leg of our hillwalking experience, keeping an eye out for a good swimming spot as we went.

Plunging into the cool depths of the Afon Glasyn cleansed and refreshed us, ready for the journey home. No one was looking forward to another five hours in the minibus; especially when those five hours counted down to the end of another, quite literally, wild and wonderful trip.

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Banff Mountain Film Festival 2017

Skiing, trail running, extreme kayaking… no, this wasn’t what we spent our evening doing, unfortunately. However, we did get to see some amazing films of these activities done on a crazy scale, which is pretty much the next best thing, right?

The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival takes place in Canada every November, and then the very best of the submitted films are chosen to go on a global tour. This week they were in London, and on Wednesday the Unit was lucky enough to go to the event for the second year. Featuring six films taking place all over the world, the evening was a true expression of what makes outdoor adventure so great!

We could rave about these incredible films for hours, but instead we’ve picked a few of the highlights…

Perhaps one of the most hard-hitting films was ‘Doing It Scared’, the story of climber Paul Pritchard, who returned to the site of an accident that had left him partially paralysed 18 years earlier, to complete the climb. Putting our little climbing wall at Scout Park to shame, Tasmania’s ‘Totem Pole’ is a 60m tower of rock, rising dramatically out of the sea. Paul’s inspiring attitude and determination enabled him to reach the top of the climb, proving without doubt his point that “disabled people are not unable. It’s society that is disabled around them.”

Another film that saw people venturing to dizzying heights was ‘La Liste’. The film documents Jérémie Heitz’s attempt to ski 15 of the most spectacular mountains in the Alps. With the majority of the mountains reaching over 4,000m, combined with gradients of 50-55 degrees, the footage had some members of the Unit peeking through their fingers in a combination of terror and awe. Jérémie reinvents the freeriding style, completing hair-raising descents in a matter of minutes, while the original descents would have taken hours. It’s certainly an important reminder of what can be achieved when you really put your mind to it!

From the summit of towering heights, to the bottom – ‘Locked In’ tells the story of a group of kayakers as they attempt a first descent of Papua New Guinea’s Beriman River, a stretch of water imprisoned on either side by sheer faces of rock, meaning that once you’re in, there’s no getting out! We watched in amazement as they navigated the almost continuous rapids along the river, and portaged their kayaks up steep cliffs and through forest in order to bypass some of the unrunnable gorges. In contrast, our Duke of Edinburgh expeditions on the River Wye seem pretty tame!

As Wednesday was International Women’s Day, it seems particularly apt to celebrate the achievements of Mira Rai, one of the world’s top trail runners, with the film ‘Mira’. The film illustrates her journey from growing up in a Nepalese mountain village, to competing in renowned competitions all over the world. It culminates in her incredible 110km run across the Spanish Pyrenees, achieving the position of second place in the 2015 Skyrunning World Championships, despite it only being her first year of international racing. If that’s not inspirational, then I don’t know what is.

The event showcased some truly incredible films, and we left with heads full of thrilling adventures from all over the world, and a burning desire to get out there and take on our own adventures – which, after all, is what Banff is all about!

Leaders have a Wales of a time

It would be unfair of us to put Explorers through their paces on DofE expeditions if we didn’t occasionally prove that we too could pass muster. Last weekend the Leaders headed to Llangollen in North Wales for some exciting white water in Canadian Canoes.

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The River Dee early on Saturday morning was cold – but we had it to ourselves!

We met at the Dockland Scout Project where we collected the 8th Holborn‘s Canoes, which they had kindly leant to us for the weekend. It was a late start and we eventually arrived at Abbey Farm in Llangollen at 1am. We pitched tents and crashed out, for it was to be an early start.

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The river soon woke up with a series of Grade 1 and 2 rapids

The next morning we drove to Glyndyfrdwy – bonus points for being able to pronounce it! – and put into the River Dee under the old bridge. This section of the Dee (the Upper Dee) is quiet and we saw no one else all morning.

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It is important to inspect unfamiliar rapids before running. This can be done from the boat or from the bank.

We paddled down a beautiful series of Grade 1 and 2 rapids which took us all the way to Horseshoe Falls – a huge horseshoe-shaped weir. After careful inspection we ran it on the left where a set of rocky steps led us down into the pool below.

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We ran the weir hard left where the high water meant a chute had opened up, avoiding the main drop.

We had a chilly but peaceful lunch below the weir and were back on the water in no time. Next up was the infamous Serpent’s Tail, which is a Grade 3, or 4 in high water, and we definitely were not running that (not in someone else’s boats, at any rate!) and we lined the canoes down, before continuing our journey.

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More rapids below Horseshoe Falls followed

We had fun in the ‘tombstones’ area by the Mill in Llangollen where Donald was waiting for us with the minibus. A much-needed hot chocolate was had in the cafe before we returned to camp for dinner (curry!) and a pint in the campsite bar.

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You can’t hear shouts on the river, so paddlers use hand signals. Here Jaye is signalling to Alex to stay where he is.

The next day we packed up camp and drove to Bala lake, or Llyn Tegid, to give it it’s Welsh name. We paddled hard up the lake against the wind before crossing to the other side and having lunch.

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Bala Lake/ Llyn Tegid

After lunch we rigged sails using poles and tarps and whizzed down the lake. What had taken us three hours to paddle up took 20 minutes to get down!

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By rafting two canoes you can make a very stable rig from which to hoist a sail

Once again Donald was waiting at the finish point and had lit a fire and was cooking sausages! The warming fire inspired Marlon and Jaye to lose the drysuits and have a dip in the freezing lake to shake out the cobwebs!

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Sailing!

It was the perfect way to finish a weekend of canoeing – sausages on the fire, watching the sunset. You couldn’t plan it!

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Reach for the stars!: Climbing Permit Assessments

In Explorers we like to do amazing activities, but we need permits to do them and unfortunately there aren’t many of them to go around. Here at Wild Wolf we like youth-led Scouting so a few Explorers (myself included) decided to try and get some permits ourselves.cw7zu7pwgaahfsp

Yesterday Megan, Ross and I (Simpson) ran a climbing session for the 15th Wood Green Scouts, to be assessed for our leadership permits for climbing. We had been training up over the summer at our Unit’s fortnightly climbing club and helping Marlon run sessions in between to get experience.

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I’m not going to hold you in suspense – we passed (of course!) and this means we can help run more climbing sessions at Scout Park, helping more young people do the amazing things that we love about Scouting!

– Simpson

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Fireworks Display Update

Many thanks to everyone who has bought a ticket to our display. Your support means a huge amount to us.

Tickets will be available on the gate, but once we have reached capacity we will not be able to admit any more people, ticket holders excepted.

Please arrive as early as you can to avoid disappointment.

Gates open at 5pm and there will be delicious food and drink on sale until the fireworks begin at 7:30pm.

We look forward to welcoming you on Saturday,

Kind Regards,

Fireworks Team

Wild Camping in the Scottish Highlands

Last week, six of our Explorers and three of our Leaders headed up to Corrour, in the remote Scottish Highlands, for five days of intense hiking. Here they’ve written about the experience…

TUESDAY 

We met at a crowded Euston Station at 8pm on Tuesday evening, to board the Caledonian Sleeper train. As we walked to the train we were asked where we were going, and gave the cheerful reply of ‘Corrour’. 

“Why the hell would you wanna go there?” said the ticket inspector – very motivating! We got on to the Sleeper and dumped our stuff into our cabins, but us being typical WWESU Explorers decided it would be a great idea to all cram into one room. 

Many cuddly moments later we decided that there weren’t enough people in the room and went off to bundle our Leaders (Marlon and Tom) in their room. When they finally decided that we were too annoying to handle they abandoned us for the dining car – which we inevitably followed them to as well. 

We stayed up, not really bothering what the time was, until we gave into the exhaustion and decided to be sensible, sleep, and prepare for a long week of hillwalking. We fell asleep to the sound of the wheels click-clacking on the track, and dreamed of Scottish mountains.

– Ross

WEDNESDAY

Early on Wednesday morning we awoke to the sound of the train conductor telling us that we couldn’t get off at Corrour after all, and that we would be all dumped off the train at Crianlarich instead. I did not really believe him until about an hour later at 7am when I woke up from a somewhat itchy sleep. One frenzied packing session later (there were many) we all trooped down to the breakfast car which had been added during the night where we ate bananas and croissants. When we got off the train we were met about half an hour later by a nine seater mini-minibus driven by a very Scottish man. This man decided to answer what felt like 17 phone calls, waking us up every 20 mins of our 3 hour journey to the hostel. Surprisingly he managed to drive all the way to the hostel, despite the last 20 kilometres being off road down a 4×4 track. The view when we arrived wholeheartedly made up for the rough journey – that and the truly amazing hostel itself.

– Max

After we had checked into the hostel and repacked our bags for a day of walking we set off into the hills. Having arrived later than we thought, we ventured on a “short” walk of 22km. Tom was thoroughly impressed by the train and its track, and we stopped to take a picture of the highest point of track in Britain. After our ordeal earlier in the morning we were rewarded with a rainbow! A promising sign of better weather to come…

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We returned to the hostel at 5pm and tucked into cheese and crackers, and a delicious curry.

– Tilly

THURSDAY

On Thursday we went for a LONG walk in the Scottish hills, this time not reaching new summits but exploring a lovely loch and admiring the mountains. We had lunch in a Bothy (a hut that anyone can use for free, and maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association) which provided respite from the cold and was a new experience for the majority of us.

As we made our way back the weather quickly worsened as rain broke out giving our waterproofs a real test. The going got tough, and the tough (that’s us by the way) got going through the bog at the end.
When we got back we made a delicious meal of cheese-stuffed meatballs, which were well deserved after our long 28.5km hike, followed by an excellent dessert. Sleep was meant to come next but our attention was brought to the stars outside by some of the others staying at the hostel, and so sleep was delayed by 10 minutes – although we got a panoramic view  of the Milky Way that you would never find in London.
 – Simpson
FRIDAY
Friday saw the start of our expedition! We were ready to start our three-day trip into the Scottish hills, where we would be wild camping each night.
After Phil arrived (having caught the Sleeper train from London, and, importantly, bringing his bags loaded with fresh snacks), we set off into the hills.
We walked for about 10km up a gradually steepening path by Loch Ossian towards Ben Alder. After lunch by the stream we turned off the path and headed cross country directly towards the summit.
Ben Alder is Scotland’s most remote Munro and we saw no one else all day, despite the fantastic weather. We made the summit at 4pm, and began the descent off the other side of the mountain, towards a small loch that we planned to camp by. We descended out of the cloud quickly and found a beautiful campsite on the loch shore, near a small stream that we could use for washing up and drinking.
We pitched camp, had dinner and turned in early, for it had been a long day and a late night previously. We were asleep very quickly!
Everyone did very well, covering about 22km and a lot of uphill with heavy expedition packs.
 – Marlon
SATURDAY
On Saturday morning we awoke to the sound of the water lapping at the loch shore, and the reeds rustling in the morning wind. We woke as the sun came up, crammed a snacky breakfast and quickly packed down our camp.
At 9:45am we set out from the loch, our first leg about 3km to Ben Alder Cottage, where we snacked and admired Loch Etrect. As the clouds were low and the weather windy, we decided to stay away from high altitudes to avoid a battering. Taking it in turn to navigate a few kilometres, we skirted the loch, followed a track, then went off-path through a bog (resulting in Tilly going for an unintended bog swim).
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Finally we got back on a track, and dug deep for a last climb, 8km. As we panted up the path we made way for a mountain biker, flying down in the opposite direction – we were a little jealous! As it began to get dark, we strayed from the path to find ourselves a campsite in the moor. After a search, we eventually found a spot which could just about be classed as suitable, despite resembling a minefield. We pitched our tents and got started on our dinner of noodles, and admired the stars, which came our just before bed time.
 – Lawrence
SUNDAY
After a lumpy night’s sleep we awoke to a misty morning. This was our last day of hiking and we were all looking forward to a warm shower and a hot meal. A thick fog had weaved its way over the camp, coating the Scottish moors in a light shade of grey.
 – Jonah

After some tent-packing-away and flip-flop-finding we were ready to go. Although we were only 2km from the youth hostel we still managed to fit in a last hill – we hiked up from the campsite and enjoyed the views, sad that the weather only just cleared, but also happy that we were going home.
We got back to the youth hostel and were reunited with our stuff. We had a quick swim in Loch Ossian to wash off two day’s worth of grime and changed into lovely fresh clothes.
We’re back in London now, and missing the Highlands already – we’ll definitely be back soon!

Our Fireworks Display: community-focussed, family-friendly, and fast approaching!

Fireworks night is fast approaching, and with it comes our annual family-friendly Fireworks Display and Bonfire!

In order to make the event as amazing as possible, there is, of course, a lot of work to be done. We started by getting our shiny new leaflets printed, and tried to distribute as many as we could, before this year’s fancy tickets arrived. The first tickets were sold to eager parents and members of the local community alike, on a Wednesday evening before Explorers, and the hope that this could be our biggest display ever came along with them.

Our fancy new hi-vis vests have arrived!

We had our usual night of flyering, with the Explorers putting flyers through letterboxes in the local area, to raise awareness of our event. With more recent weeks has come more physical preparation, and the formation of three new teams to help organise and promote Wild Wolf and our fireworks display. The Creative Team has been painting signs and making sure we have enough glass jars to house all our many tea lights – they make beautiful decorations on our stalls! The Publicity Team have been making sure that the social media side of the event is covered, by tweeting, instagraming and facebooking all the ticket selling (wherever it may be…) and making sure that everyone knows about the event and how great it will be!

This week we’ve been down at Rhodes Avenue Primary School selling tickets

On the tech side of things, our Production Team have been working behind the scenes to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the night: playing with lighting, to make sure that the display will look amazing, planning the video, organising logistics and making sure that all the many many many cables that we are going to need are in order for the big day!

The whole Unit has been getting hands on and working hard in preparation for our biggest event of the year, which is set to be the best one yet!

For more details about the event, including how to buy tickets, see our Fireworks Display page, and to keep up to date on all our preparation, check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

A Thousand Amazing Moments. One Video.

11 days

54 people

81.5km of hiking

524 total nights away

1700 individual videos

On the 29th of July, we climbed aboard our coach, ready for the 19 hour drive to Kandersteg International Scout Centre. Last Wednesday, 56 days later, we premiered our summer camp video at our parents’ meeting. Condensed from 1044 minutes of footage into one incredible video, it showcases some of the best moments of our trip, and the audience (parents and Explorers alike) were in fits of laughter throughout. From hiking up a mountain at 5am and chilling in Brigerbad thermal spa, to taking part in the Swiss National Day Parade and going white water rafting, we certainly covered a wide range of activities. To discover some of the amazing adventures we took part in, and experience the trip for yourself, take a look at the video below!

 

Gold DofE: Cream Teas and Canoes

Last week, several teams from Explorer Units across North London District headed up to the River Wye to complete the expeditions for their Duke of Edinburgh Awards. One Wild Wolf group, made up of Ellie, Carina, Dearbhla and Zuzanna, have written about their Gold expedition:

We arrived at Scout Park, bright and early, on Saturday morning, lugging our ridiculously impractical barrels behind us, frantically reassuring ourselves that we were, in fact, ready for a week of canoeing.

Our team ended up driving to Shooter’s Hill, in South-East London, to pick up a trailer of canoes from Severndroog ESU. We then embarked on a sightseeing tour of London, in an attempt to make our way back across London to the M40. Having boarded the Woolwich Ferry, driven along Tower Bridge, and passed Buckingham Palace (all while posting the mandatory photos on Twitter), we finally reached our destination, and were able to properly start our journey to Ross-on-Wye.

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Four hours later, we still had all the canoes (much to general relief) and had arrived at Ross-on-Wye’s huge Morrison’s. Here we were entrusted with our food money for the week, and told to buy all the provisions for our expedition. We wandered around the supermarket, stocking up on food from the ‘Saver’s’ range, and despairing about how badly the shop was organised. (I mean seriously, who puts magazines next to fruit & veg?) As a result, all our shopping took quite a while, and our trailer of canoes caused just a little bit of disruption in the car park.

Having filled our food barrel with all the essentials (Twirl Bites, carrots, Uncle Ben’s rice etc…), we set off again, and drove to our campsite on the banks of the River Wye.

Once our tents were set up, there was nothing left to do, besides whip out the Trangias and cook up some pesto pasta (It’s DofE. Of course we had pasta.)

The next day, Sunday, both WWESU Gold teams headed out on a day trip, canoeing down the river from Kerne Bridge. We did some technique practice, in which Marlon demonstrated the perfect way to unintentionally go the wrong way round an island. After that display, we continued paddling downstream.

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Eventually, we reached the Symonds Yat rapids, having had lunch, and proceeded to practise some manoeuvres in this more challenging environment. Ferry gliding and eddying are all very well, but we all agreed the true entertainment came when Tilly and Simpson capsized spectacularly.

Once we finished at Symonds Yat, we continued on downriver and were soon at Biblins, much wetter than when we started, but feeling more confident in our canoeing abilities.

The next day, Monday, was the starting day for the other WWESU Gold team, and they left with early morning faces looming out of the minibus windows. We decided that another day of practice wouldn’t hurt, and so headed back to Symonds Yat, with Marlon.

The team promptly approached Symonds Yat, a grade 2 rapid. So, how did we do? Pretty decent, if I say so myself. Well, decent if you ignore the fabulous canoeing roll (capsize…) performed by Zuza and Dearbhla. It would have been fine, until you take into account how difficult it is to swim with a paddle in one hand and a canoe in the other. After being hauled to shore by Marlon, we portaged our canoes to the start of the rapids and did it all over again (without the capsizing this time…).

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After repeatedly ferry gliding and eddying (like pros), we decided to treat ourselves to a hearty meal. The Radical Pink Lady Boyz (as we dubbed ourselves) then found a fancy looking hotel and restaurant by the side of the river. Despite being rather soggy, we were still allowed to enter, and ordered cream teas for five. They were served as we discussed, in true WWESU fashion, whether it was cream and then jam or jam and then cream. I’ll save you the embarrassment, it’s cream first, not jam. NEVER JAM. The tea was entertainment enough, but as a bonus we had Ellie crying her eyes out. We hadn’t even started our expedition and she had had enough (that was a joke, a terrible one. Ellie was crying with happiness, and the pure bliss of mountains of cream.) This wasn’t the last cream tea of the week, but that’s a story for later on… We promptly left after stealing the sugar sachets and some packets of butter (well, we had paid for them), for use with our rather basic camp meals. Our expedition was due to start the next day and we decided that it was a good idea to get some sleep, so headed off to bed pretty early.

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DAY 1:

Tuesday was the first day of our expedition. With fresh enthusiasm we got up at 6:30 to take down camp and sort everything out. This was followed by a discussion of kit and route with Julian before we loaded the minibus with canoes and headed off for the hour and a half long journey. Upon arriving at Glasbury, we met our assessor, Mike, and got our kit and canoes down to the riverside.

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Our first day of canoeing had amazing weather and sooooooo much sun cream was applied (especially by Carina). We got excited by the much-anticipated rapids and were quite disappointed when they were just waves. We also planned our outfits for the final day and sang for the first time – something that we kept up throughout the next few days. It was a really good set up for the days ahead and we discovered how much faster we went compared to our practice expedition on the Thames.

We stopped for lunch in an eddy behind a tree, where there seemed to be a knocking noise on the bottom of the canoe. This prompted us to assume someone was dying (they weren’t!) and many jokes were made. Turns out it was just a branch, but hey, that’s a lot less interesting. The rest of the afternoon carried on fairly uneventfully, as we went over Monnington Falls, quite possibly the least exciting falls ever, and stopped for a Twirl Bite break next to some cows. As the campsite for that night came into view, there was a lot of debate as to whether it was the right one, until we spotted Mike standing on the bank. Having speedily set up camp, we made dinner: Mac’n’Cheese with tuna, which was amazingly good. Soon enough the farmer came to collect his money and we ended up having a conversation about politics with him, which was interesting, to say the least. Once he had left, we decided to call it a night and head to bed, ending the first day.

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DAY 2:

On Wednesday, we left our campsite as the singular other person there woke up, and sang our way downstream. It was our longest day, canoeing 28 miles, but we were still way ahead of schedule. We managed to find enough energy in us to have a good ol’ fashioned DofE gossip as we drifted past many trees, fields and fishermen. Dearbhla found her religious side, as she renamed our squeaky rubber chickens Jesus and Mary. Songs were reinvented and the time seemed to fly by.
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Before long we were at Tresseck Farm campsite, where we had to drag the canoes up a very steep slope with a dirty pool of water at the bottom, which smelled like dead fish. We all ended up falling in and getting very muddy (apart from Carina who managed to stay clean somehow). Our camp was in the empty side of the field and so we became very territorial of our field, later judging the other people who arrived with a pop up tent. Dinner was Uncle Ben’s rice with sweet chilli sauce, which soon became a staple for every meal – including Dearbhla’s hot chocolate. We played a game of cheat (Ellie won!), had a quick yoga session, and headed to bed at 9pm. This became slightly embarrassing as Julian then arrived to talk to the silver team who were staying on the same camp and we were falling asleep.Once he had left, we soon fell asleep in preparation for the next day.
DAY 3:
Thursday started the same as the first two days, with a 6am start, even on our shortest day. Trying not to wake up the entire campsite, we had hot chocolate (this time without the sweet chilli) and the most amazing chocolate waffles – probably the only thing we bought that wasn’t Morrison’s own brand. After a quick slip’N’slide which ended with Dearbhla and the canoe in the dirty dead fish swamp, we set off for day three of our expedition.  Our first few miles were song filled (can you see a pattern?) and cheery until the rain set in, at which point we played eye-spy for half an hour before realising that the entire River Wye valley looks pretty much the same – once we’d exhausted ‘tree’, ‘river’ and ‘rain’, we gave up.
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We had a short break in Ross-on-Wye where we interrupted a very romantic date and Dearbhla managed to knock two paintings off of the wall of the cafe on her way to their toilet. After taking several selfies with the rubber chickens, we continued on our merry way. As we glided angelically down the river, we were overtaken by several hire canoes with screaming children. Five minutes later we realised just how embarrassing this was and proceeded to race past, showing off our superior canoeing skills.
Eventually we arrived at the YHA and set up camp. Once we got the tents up, the rain started again and so our amazing tarp-putting-up skills were put to the test (our tarp was great). Upon realising there was a REAL toilet and HOT shower we all rejoiced, before ultimately deciding to not shower (to much effort…). Dinner was tinned spaghetti bolognese with pretzel sticks and chocolate digestives for dessert. Sadly the nearest toilets were portaloos, but, in Carina’s words, they were “the classiest portaloos to ever exist” and she “only counted one bug in the entire thing” – a novelty for us. We easily decided that it was super late (by this we mean 9:30pm) and that we should definitely head off to bed – our last night of the expedition!
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DAY 4:
Friday was the last day of our expedition. With the now routine procedure, we woke up at 6am, had breakfast and took the tents down before getting our canoes ready for the last time. We couldn’t believe we’d be done by the end of the day, and each of us was looking forward to the cream teas we promised ourselves- especially Dearbhla, who had not stopped talking about it since Monday.
The river was quite high when we approached the rapids at Symonds Yat. To be fair, if we didn’t know they were there, we’d probably crash into the rocks. However, we successfully managed to get through, fully expecting to see Marlon trying to photograph us, but he wasn’t there. Even as we passed the base campsite at Biblins, singing our new and improved version of ‘In The Jungle’, we heard no cheers of good luck but instead received a confused wave from Tilly. Disappointed with the reaction – or lack of one – we took off our hand-made flower crowns and continued our journey down the river.
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Eventually, we reached the take out spot in Brockweir. We were asked to take out the canoes in the midst of a muddy bank that would try to swallow your shoes if you stood in one place for longer than five seconds. After struggling to push and pull the canoes up a practically vertical hill, we finally realised we finished our expedition!
The only thing left to do was to load everything onto the trailer and naturally, have cream teas. We went down to an old railway station which was turned into a cafe/souvenir shop where we treated ourselves to some scones and tea, and even got matching bracelets (because come on, squad goals). We were still full of energy as we arrived back at Biblins and took a refreshing shower after having a debrief with Marlon about our expedition. Luckily everything had gone extremely well – better than everyone had expected, to be honest – and with that in mind, we got ready for a great BBQ to end the week.
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Kandersteg: Bunderspitz

On the penultimate day of camp 7 intrepid Explorers decided to hike up one of the larger mountains surrounding our valley. Thomas reports…

Our day started much earlier than anyone else’s with a planned get-up of 4:30 (which failed for me as it turns out setting your alarm too quiet to wake the rest of the tent up means it doesn’t wake you up!) but we managed to get out of camp only 10 minutes late at 5:10, leaving well before the sun rose.

Our hike started uneventfully leaving KISC but as time went on, we soon realised this hike wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, rather a very steep walk up a really big hill, but the view of the lights of the village in the dark was great. However not being able to see more than 10m in front of you wasn’t as great, as it was nearly impossible to see the path ahead.

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By the time the sun had risen,  we had climbed to about 600m above the valley floor (or 1,800m above sea level) and we gratefully paused to have our breakfast of brioche and pain au chocolats. Enjoying the cool morning sun was a great start to the day, ruined only by the clouds obstructing the view of the valley far below.

Soon we were off again but now our walk was much easier as after an initial steep bit therewas a much gentler ascent and when we had to walk downwards slightly a few of us were … slightly annoyed. But luckily we did get a few good views on as we went up as the clouds occasionally cleared.

Our respite didn’t last as we again had to climb but know it was more enjoyable as we could at least see what was in front of us (well, unless we were standing in a cloud – who knew that they disrupted visibility?). However soon we reached the top and only needed a few songs to keep our spirits up (and luckily no renditions of 1000 bottles of milk).

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Here we had a nice break before heading down during which we eat some snacks, read the log book (some of the messages were very interesting) and left a few messages of our own. Reaching the top was a real achievement though as we had climbed twice as high as the tallest mountains in Britain!

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Soon we were on our way down, this time by a different route but not much easier but as we went we got some amazing views (and quite a few questions about the weather further up)

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We soon got back down to Kandersteg where we had our lunch while waiting for the bus and then headed for the cable car/gondola to get up to Oeschinensee to meet the others but due to communication failure we ended up going too far and too high up and around the lake and so had to turn back  but we still got to enjoy the refreshing lake water before we had to leave. And our extra little walk did yield some excellent views of the lake!

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