29th-31st March 2019 – Anglesey Coastal Path (North Wales)
Congratulations to seventeen of our year 11 students who completed their Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award expedition on the north coast of Anglesey coastal path, each group walked a total distance of approximately 25 miles over 3 days, carrying everything they required for expedition.
Everybody managed to pass their expedition showing fantastic navigation, organisation, communication and group skills over the 3 days, on behalf of myself, our DofE assessor Jenny Mills, we were all extremely impressed with each and every one involved – Well done!
A special thank you to all staff involved, DofE could not run without your kindness to give up your time on a voluntary basis, Kate Harvey, Martyn Wilson, Mrs A Thompson – I cannot thank you enough!
Mr J Cudworth – Duke of Edinburgh Co-ordinator
Silver Award Final Expedition 2019, by Heather Taylor, Year 11
Due to traffic, we arrived in Anglesey, or Ynys Mon, an hour late, and so had to change the times for our checkpoints.
We set off along our route, crossing through a field with a very friendly goat. At the top, we found that the field boundary we were supposed to cross was not there, and the pathway had been destroyed. We rang Mr Cudworth as there was no way to continue on our original route, who told us to go up the road and head along a bridleway and meet up with our original route on the other side.
As we walked up the road, Paige remarked that it would all be plain sailing from that point on. On this bridleway, we passed by an abandoned house, which Raghad said looked like a serial killer could be hiding there, and some sorrel plants, which I got everyone to try; but around three quarters of the way along, we found the bridleway had been blocked by a skip, behind which lay a sea of brambles that even the most intrepid adventurer would have balked at. However, there was a gate into a field immediately right of this, so we went into the field to get around, supposing that there would be another stile or gate on the other side so we could continue parallel to the bridleway. When this proved not to be the case, we decided that we would try to go down and get through the school area nearby, as that would likely have roads and ways in and out of this field. To get there, we had to cross stream; both banks were very muddy, though the opposite side did not appear so, so when the first of us jumped across, they nearly fell in, their boot sinking deep into the mud.
After scrambling up the bank, we reached the school, but our way was barred by two thick walls of gorse and bramble bracketing another stream, but through which we could see the school. As there was no way out, we rang Mr Cudworth again, who, after we managed to get him to hear us over the wind, told us to go back to the beginning of the bridleway. As such, we had to cross the stream again from the steeper bank, which was much more difficult than it appeared. Paige slipped going down and we had to haul her out by her bag.
After a brief respite, we decided it would be easier to get down without our bags on, so I carried Paige’s bag across, then dumped both hers and mine at the top of the other bank, in the drier part of the field. Sadie came next, and soon everyone was on the other bank, putting their bags back on. We got lift to the Post Office Checkpoint then walked the rest of way, and reached the campsite first of the groups, despite the delay, and had managed to set up by the time that Pink got there. Harrison, of course, took the Michael about us having to get a lift, but he would regret doing so when his group had to do the same the next day. Once every group had got to the campsite and had tea, we went to beach, where some of the groups climbed on the rocks there, and others had a stroll along the beach.
When we all got back to the campsite, Abbey sang and played guitar, as had become tradition for DofE. Harrison and I also had a go on the guitar before Elizabeth, Rhiannon and Lily sang a song about everyone on DofE. After a little while longer of Abbey playing guitar and everyone chatting in a circle, we decided it was getting close to the shut-off time for noise on this particular campsite, so everyone went to bed.
We woke up to pheasants and seagulls making a racket outside the tent. I had slept in spurts due to the cold, which turned out to have been enough to freeze into polystyrene-like foam the bottle of oil-based fly repellent I had brought, but we all seemed relatively well-rested as we set off for our second day. Orange left first, followed closely by pink and blue group. The weather forecast had predicted that to be the coldest of the three days before we had set off for Anglesey, so we all bundled up for our walk. That day was the hottest for us of the three days, and at one of the checkpoints we had to apply sun-cream as we were all getting quite red.
Our day was relatively uneventful; we had no paths which we could not get through, though we had to climb over a couple of fences and gates along our public right of way, and no Alsatians chased us, unlike what happened to Pink group. We passed by a bee farm, which had been there since the …, and Raghad, after saying that she had never had a single blister in her life, ended up with five by the end of the day.
We were slightly behind our times for that day, but we decided that it would be better to get there late than break ourselves trying to make up time, a philosophy that we carried throughout the weekend. We got to the campsite second, and Orange group had already started to have tea by the time that we set our tents up. There was a small holiday house which we had been permitted to use the bathroom and kitchen of, which, compared to the previous campsite, which had no hot water and the only washing facility was a plastic bowl, seemed very fancy indeed, especially the toilet and shower, which were of hotel standard.
Ella and I made tea that day, and it felt like a large amount of time was spent just boiling pasta, though there was enough time to listen to Michael and the others play …. It became very dark quite quickly, and most of us noticed the sheer number and brightness of the stars overhead, though some people remained in the tents. Lily, Paige, Garlin, Tom and I sat on a bench with Paige’s and Garin’s sleeping bags over us, chatting, for a good while, whilst the others sat in their tents and chatted. I went to bed earlier than some of the others, and Paige, Garlin and Tom stayed sat out on the bench until midnight, when they went into their tents.
Inside our tent, Ella was the first to awaken on the third day, and tried to wake myself and Paige up, to the complaint of Paige, as it was only just past six. The others soon began to wake up, and, though Oliver agreed that it was half six, Bailey’s watch and the clock in the house both read half seven; thus, we woke up, and set about packing away. Pink and Blue group were the last to leave the campsite, and we set off on the final leg of our journey.
For us, this day was the longest: sixteen kilometres and a whopping 322 flights of stairs, according to the Fitbit that I had taken, a direct contrast to the general assumption that Anglesey is flat: it certainly is not on the coast.
We arrived at the carpark last out of the three groups, as Raghad was struggling, and Paige felt sick during the day, so we stopped a couple of times, but when we finally got there we were greeted by a large cheer before our gear was bundled up into the van, and we set off back to our normal lives.
Our Duke of Edinburgh expedition is something we will never forget and we would like to personally thank all the staff involved, especially Mr J Cudworth for organising our expedition.