A team of six eighteen-year-old Sea Cadet Instructors have recently completed their Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Gold Expedition with the help of generous financial support from the Ulysses Trust.
The expedition team and support staff set off to Dartmoor for their DofE Gold qualifying expedition at the start of the Easter weekend. The conditions of the DofE Gold expedition require the candidates to carry out a four day three night expedition in remote (class A) countryside, be independent, competent in what they are doing, self sufficient and carry out a project for the expedition. The team have to do their own route planning, incorporating the expedition project.
The expedition project was ‘the history of letterboxing, and finding as many letterboxes as possible’.
The team support camp was based at Guttertor Refuge, Sheepstor.
The team started out with big smiles and a lot of enthusiasm, they encountered fantastic scenery, remote wild camps, sunny blue skies, night frosts, and torrential rain, finishing wet, cold and aching but also buzzing with a great sense of achievement having completed the most gruelling physically and emotionally demanding expedition they had ever done, and achieving their objective.
Day 1 The team started out Friday morning armed with their letterbox stamp, lots of enthusiasm and full packs to keep them self sufficient for four days. Starting on the northern tip of Dartmoor, the route took them southerly, looking for the many letterbox locations and finishing at the base camp at Guttertor Lodge at the end of day four. The first day took them to the original first letterbox placed at Cranmere pool, and one of the few letterbox locations documented with a grid reference. There they found the book of previous visitors and stamps, and duly added their own. A wild camp followed with a very cold night.
Day 2 Having had very little sleep and waking to a very cold frosty morning and being tired from the previous day, there was very little of the enthusiasm and buzz of day one. Their heads were down, and the end of the day saw six hungry and tired individuals, and very little teamwork. What had happened to the team? Will this expedition see day four? Two down two to go!!
Day 3 What a difference a good nights sleep, warmer weather, and a food intake makes. Heads were up and back on course working as a team. With good walking weather again, fatigue was beginning to tell, but the end is in sight. More letterboxes were found but the weather is beginning to deteriorate, and the evening saw the start of heavy rain.
Day 4 After a wild camp with blustery continual rain and very little sleep due to the stormy weather, the team were experiencing the dreaded Dartmoor weather conditions. They finished their expedition in torrential, horizontal rain. Good teamwork with excellent navigation kept them on course to Guttertor refuge, where they arrived soaked through but smiling and buzzing with the excitement of finishing the most demanding expedition any of them had ever encountered.