DoE Yr 13: Gold Training Expedition to the Mournes

Traditionally Saint Patrick’s Day is the start of spring. However, with the arrival of the” Mini Beast from the East” the conditions were more like winter with several flurries of snow rather than the bright spring days expected at this time of year. The Year 13 Gold group consisted of 13 pupils assisted by two staff. Training took place in Tollymore Forest Park where the boys refreshed their campcraft skills, pitching their tents before cooking on the trangia stoves. The evening was spent getting lost in the forest with the pupils practising their navigation skills. Night navigation is always a good test of skill but was made more challenging with the freezing conditions and occasional snow shower. After a long evening we returned to the refuge of the tents.

We woke to a thin covering of snow. Several had found it difficult to sleep because of the cold (only minus 5oc). There is nothing as good as the experience to reinforce the instruction that had been imparted in the classroom. Some might listen more carefully in future to the advice given about proper equipment. One pupil said it had been “the worst night in his life”. They had been warned about the freezing conditions and the need for warm clothing even in bed. After some warm refreshments and breakfast it was back to compass work, route planning and then a navigational exercise through the forest.

With the training weekend completed planning and preparation for the practice expedition has begun.