By: Blonde Two

The Two Blondes went out Dartmoor expeditioning with nine youngsters last Saturday.  We set out from Widecombe and we walked nine, sunburned and soggy, youngsters back into New Bridge on Monday afternoon.

The weekend was their Silver Duke of Edinburgh practice expedition.  We had two teams, both lovely but completely and utterly different to each other in experience, outlook and fitness levels.  Let me introduce you to them;

Team One (Veterans) – these guys are all Ten Tors veterans.  This year, they have waded rivers, navigated in the worst Dartmoor weather and walked 35/45/55 miles in two days.  From the start, we Blondes were wondering how on earth a sunny weekend with shorter distances could offer them a sufficient level of challenge.

On Saturday, we set them off to navigate on their own with some willing adult helpers trailing behind them up   some pretty steep hills.  In all honesty, it would have been tricky to pinpoint who was looking after who.  We did throw in a curved ball by giving them the 1:40000 Harvey’s map instead of their usual 1:25000.

On Sunday, Blonde One took a hit for the Blonde team and walked with the “veterans”.  I say walk, but these guys are very fast.  She spent a fair proportion of the day telling them to slow down and enjoy their environment a bit more than usual – the contrast between D of E and Ten Tors is clear here.  We are working on leadership skills with some of this team so the day was interspersed with emergency scenarios.

Team Two (Novices) – this merry band of travellers (well not all so merry by the end of three days) were of very mixed experience and a much lower level of fitness than the others.  They were feeling the strain of their full packs after a couple of hours (no shame there).

On Saturday, Blonde One and I both walked with the novices in order to give them as much training as possible.  They did well but were on the slow side and there was some frustrating walking pole entanglement going on (I was sick of the sight of these walking poles by the end of day two).

On Sunday, I took charge of them and told them that I was assessing all of their navigation, fitness and team work.  There were mixed results and I have to confess to getting a bit grumpy a couple of times but it was, in general a successful day and we all learnt some things about ourselves.

By Monday, we Blondes decided that both groups were ready for some independent walking.  We did a lot of spying, lots of praise and some telling off – the novices had to re-walk one section after missing a check point (we are so cruel) but I don’t think they will do that again.

The fabulous thing about expeditions is that they bring out the best and the worst in all of us.  Whether you are trekking to the South Pole or hiking across Dartmoor – that is what makes them the life changing experiences that they are and that is why we do it!