Yorkshire Dales 20th/21st May 2017

by Jo Woodman 10Y

Waking up early Saturday morning, for a quick fry up before meeting at school at 8am, I was surprised the sun was out and even more so that it wasn’t raining. Everyone arrived early, a little nervous but very excited – except Beker who casually sauntered up after everyone else and took even longer to load his rucksack into the van, much to our amusement. However we were soon on our way accompanied by a strange rendition of “eye of the tiger” and an ominous clanking from the mini-bus.

After collecting our heavy purple covered rucksacks we split into two teams (Wonton Warriors and Yorky Hexes) and the Wontons headed off down an idyllic riverside path in high spirits. We soon learned how friendly everyone in Yorkshire is… especially one man who caught up to us in order to return a map we had dropped and was forced to witness us stripping off due to the unusual temperatures – luckily no-one was indecent at that point! After finding a set of stepping stones and a suspension bridge we almost forgot we were supposed to be walking and had a great time filming various ways of crossing, until we spotted Martyn and Miss Harvey and realised we were late for our checkpoint!

Unfortunately it decided to rain and the rest of the walk passed by in a wet blur of chocolate, sugar, filming (don’t ask what of) and the more than occasional stumble. Until, with approximately 1 km left, we spotted the other group and the race was on, well almost, in our haste to beat them we accidentally ran straight down the biggest hill we had seen all day only to realise the stile, painted in bright yellow, was at the top and we had to trudge back up the hill to it.

Eventually we reached the campsite and still in the pouring rain set up camp, our tea tasted positively delicious after the hard trek, even with mountains of cheese covering the spag bol. The evening was spent playing a variety of games which inevitably ended up with me falling in the river… twice.

Exhausted, everyone went to bed as the light was fading however sleep was very hard to come by due to the freezing cold and a variety of animal noises.

Having been woken at seven we cooked a leisurely breakfast of hash browns, beans and corned beef then went into a mad rush when we were told we were setting off in 57 minutes. Finally we were ready just 25 minutes late and set off with our slightly lighter packs on our much sorer shoulders. Amazingly we walked much faster than the previous day and reached our checkpoints early, until we were chased by several herds of cows’ seemingly intent on protecting their calves from a group of giant purple tortoises (us!).

The final stretch, doubling back on ourselves along a canal, dragged on and seemed the hardest part of the whole expedition but we struggled on and completed it with the help of yet another “repeat after Garfieh” song. The immense relief of finally being free of the rucksack was brilliant but reminded us how tired we really were and several people fell asleep in the coach home (I wish I had).

The whole experience was very difficult, tiring and a huge challenge however it was brilliant fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat – maybe not for a couple of days though!