Friday 20th September 2019


Arriving at school at 8am on Friday 25th May it was already 19°C. Fourteen budding adventurers were prepped and eager to board buses to begin Woodchurch High School’s first Duke of Edinburgh expedition. The group was made up of 11 boys, 3 girls and all but two were in Y10.

Mr Stead, Mr Heydon, Miss Watson and Miss Barney checked that everyone had arrived and were with the correct equipment and they were soon off, heading for Loggerheads in North Wales.

For some it was their first time in ‘God’s Country’, which made for some interesting observations and comments... For some it was their first time taking part in anything involving camping and exploring the countryside; staff all agreed that these brave pupils took it all in their stride.

Arriving at Loggerheads, the pupils began what would be a 6 hour hike up Moel Famau (Mother Mountain – 551m above sea level), ascending via the Clwydian Way and heading down over Ffrith Mountain back to the minibuses. The walk can be challenging at the best of times, but temperatures over 25°C and only intermittent breezes could have spelt disaster for our adventurers.

However, the sheer determination of all (and regular stops to apply sun cream), gave Woodchurch High School’s Duke of Edinburgh team victory. That evening, after pitching tents and cooking their own meal, the group celebrated their success with a water fight followed by some toasted marshmallows and campfire games before lights out.

As the sun rose on Saturday morning temperatures were already high, the pupils had slept well under canvas and were instructed to repack their rucksacks as if they were to be assessed for their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award. The scheme insists that pupils carry a full rucksack which includes: sleeping bag, sleeping mat, food, water, first aid kit, spare clothes and a share of the cooking equipment and tent.

Despite bulging rucksacks, not one of the pupils complained. They simply shouldered their burdens, adjusted a few straps for comfort and resumed sun cream application.

Saturday’s walk was shorter to compensate for the heavier backpacks and incredibly, it seemed even warmer outside than the previous day. The route took the group straight up Bryn Alyn near Llanferres and through fields of sheep and woodland in a loop back to the buses.

Stopping at Loggerheads Visitor Centre before heading for home, staff and pupils celebrated with ice creams to cool down and rehydrate.

Thanks go to the team for their enthusiasm, motivation and determination. The pupils were a credit to the school; embodying the Woodchurch ethos and desire to achieve despite the fact that they were in a totally different learning environment. A leading youth charity, the Duke of Edinburgh scheme gives young people the chance to develop skills for work and life, fulfil their potential and have a brighter future.

The next expedition (another practice before their assessments), is Friday 8th June.

Hopefully the weather will be just as nice...