From the 19th to the 22nd of September, ten students from Fakenham College were given the opportunity to complete their Duke of Edinburgh Gold expedition. As we left on Sunday for the 6 hour journey to Yorkshire, a feeling of trepidation was evident. We spent a night at the bunkhouse, and our routes were checked over before we headed out. The two groups would take different routes, but both would climb all three peaks. The sun was shining on Monday as we shouldered our packs and headed out into the wilderness.
Pen-Y-Ghent, the smallest of the three peaks, was climbed on day one, in idyllic conditions. Our descent into the first campsite couldn’t have gone better; for the time being, our muscles were all intact. As night approached we pitched our tents, cooked our food packets and slept like logs.
Day two brought even better conditions than the day before, with barely a cloud polluting the sky. Both teams climbed Ingleborough, the second-highest of the three peaks; the overly-warm conditions made the going slow, but the clear skies provided some of the most breath-taking sights in the world when we finally reached the summit. We all stopped for lunch as we gazed over the whole of the Dales. When finished, we descended into our second campsite, and pitched our tents as the cold night approached.
With the third day came the inevitable bad weather; after we had packed our tents up, the clouds enveloped us as one group climbed up Whernside, the highest of the three peaks, while the other group traversed around it. The rain was showery and simply a light drizzle when it did hit us, so our walking was not hindered, although our viewpoint on the summit of Whernside was impacted significantly. By the time we reached our final campsite we were all both physically and mentally exhausted.
The final day was met with both relief and excitement. One group had planned on climbing Whernside, while the other would walk through Dentdale and across Blea Moor. Both groups would walk underneath the Ribblehead Viaduct at the end of our adventure. The weather was glorious again, and as our monumental journey came to an end we were all overwhelmed with an incredible sense of achievement.
The expedition was an incredible experience, and we all gained memories which we will hold forever. While our bodies were exhausted, our minds were rejuvenated, and on the journey home we couldn’t help but think that our time in the Yorkshire Dales had well and truly been the adventure of a lifetime.
By Tim Wayland