9 things I learnt on my Duke of Edinburgh expedition

Young Adventurer Sian Nolan takes on the first big challenge of DofE – the Bronze practice expedition: a two-day hike of at least six hours per day. Here’s how she got on.


After three training sessions, lots of packing and repacking of bags, mapping out routes and cooking outdoors, the big weekend had come: my Duke of Edinburgh practice expedition. Here’s what I learnt:

1. If you get lost, stay calm and drink hot chocolate
First morning in we took the wrong footpath and ended up going the wrong direction for quite a while. But when we realised we stopped for lunch, remapped our route and boiled up some water for hot chocolate.

2. Slow and steady doesn’t win the race

After seven hours of walking we arrived at out base for the night, Howell Scout Camp, but nearly two hours later than other teams. They’d already set up camp but we didn’t take long to pitch the tent after all our practicing.

3. I should not be let near Triangas ever again

After setting up camp we started cooking. I made pasta tortellini (delicious) but managed to burn my arm on the Trianga in the process. I’m not safe around them!

4. Toasted marshmallows are always a good idea

Before bed one my team decided to tell ghost stories (which made us all laugh rather than be scared), we toasted some marshmallows on the trangia flames (I didn’t burn or singe anything this time!) and we all called it a night.

5. Always check your sleeping bag before bed

I felt something moving in my sleeping bag during the night, but thought nothing of it and closed my eyes again. I was so tired that I slept really well. But the next morning I found out what had disturbed me: the boys from another group had snuck two slugs into the bottom of my bag!  

6. Bacon sandwiches make a great start to the day

We cooked bacon sandwiches the next morning (without singing anything again, hooray!), which gave us the energy for another six hours of walking.

7. Shortcuts aren’t always worth it

On the way home we took a short cut, which didn’t turn out to be much quicker as we ended up in a farmers field and the only way to get out of was to crawl through a bush. The result? Scratched legs. 

8. Bulls and red rucksacks don’t mix

One field away from school I turned around to see a bull scowling at me. I realised my rucksack was red just as the bull started running towards us but we managed to quickly hop over the fence before anyone got hurt…

9. You will need a shower as soon as you finish (and a nap)

The first thing my Mum said when I got back was “you really need a shower, you smell”. I stumbled into the shower and went straight to bed