1323 – ‘Viking Challenge’ – Norway

Viking Challenge proved to be a fantastic training opportunity for all cadets attending. Despite the long 43-hour journey, we threw ourselves straight into the water on the day we arrived. The first four days were spent advancing white-water kayak techniques based out of Troll Aktiv Centre in the Setesdal valley. We can now all competently paddle grade 2 and 3 rapids complete with some advanced paddle techniques.

The second stage was a two and a half day flat canoe expedition. As a self-sufficient expedition, we carried our kit with us in dry bags. Covering around 60 km, it proved to be a great experience, new to most of the cadets on the exercise.

The final phase I included white-water rafting, a high wires course and a more advanced kayaking. Altogether a fantastic trip; all of us have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Norway; the accommodation, equipment and opportunities were brilliant and thus praise must go to the staff who organised the trip.Cdt CSM Gwilym Wyn -Jones

The Viking Challenge in Norway has proved to be an amazing experience and a challenge both physically and mentally. Shortly after arriving, we became thoroughly immersed in the white-water stage of our expedition. Despite some unnerving incidents, I managed to build up a greater confidence in both my own capabilities and those of my other team remembers. We then moved onto the expedition part of the challenge which consisted of travelling 60 km in Canadian canoes across three days. This provided a pleasant and relaxing break from the adrenaline-fuelled days of the white water. After the conclusion of the expedition, we were presented with the opportunity to do white-water rafting and a high-wire obstacle course; these provided yet another adrenaline boost, yet were also a pleasant change in routine from the kayaking and canoeing. On reflection, I feel that, although the Norwegian expedition was not as strenuous in terms of previous expeditions, it has provided a much more satisfying challenge in terms of removing me from my comfort zone.Cdt Cpl Ciaran Povey

Being my first CCF expedition, I did not quite know what to expect. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. At first I was quite anxious; however, when we started the white-water phase, my fears were set aside as my confidence grew. And, by the end, I was asking to go again. During the white-water phase, we faced water that pushed us to our technical and mental limits. Next was the canoeing stage of the expedition, which was slightly tedious after the white-water stage, but we soon broke into a rhythm that persisted throughout the rest of the canoeing stage. For the last two days, we did white-water rafting and a high-wire course. Both were exhilarating and great fun. To conclude, the expedition was brilliant, whether participating in the activities or resting in our camp.Cdt Cpl Johnny Day

Viking Challenge was my first expedition with the CCF. I found it a lot better than I had anticipated. The journey to Norway took longer than expected due to a delay with one of the boats. Because of this, we arrived early Tuesday morning and started our kayaking phase the same afternoon. We spent two days on the white water near the centre before travelling a little while to some more challenging rapids on Thursday and Friday. Unfortunately, I did not participate on the Friday due to injury. On Saturday, we started our canoeing expedition. We camped out for two nights and, over three days, we managed to travel 60 km. On Tuesday 17th July, we did white-water rafting and some more kayaking. On Wednesday and during our last day, we did a high-ropes course. This was a brilliant way to end the expedition. Overall, the whole challenge was incredible.Cdt Cpl C-J Wymer

Viking Challenge started on the Sunday with a long bus journey to the port to catch the 18-hour ferry which would take us to Denmark and later Norway. The long ferry journey to Denmark had taken its toll on the team members, but we pushed on to catch our midnight ferry, a catamaran, which would take us to Norway where we would start the kayaking and later canoeing.

Arriving on Tuesday, we slept the majority of the morning to catch up on sleep and then took to the water for our long-anticipated kayaking that we had so been looking forward to. We all started well and took to the water like fish. The next day, we were all eager to hit the water and master the rapids. We entered a new river and experienced rapids up to grade 4, with most of us capsizing but eager to get back into the water and get another run. Luckily we had the massive experience of Jesper, our Danish guide, who was a kayaking expert who helped massively in teaching all the techniques for white water.

We then moved onto the canoeing phase where we canoed 60 km through rivers and a few rapids. We were completely self-dependent, camping out and carrying our rations. Although not as exciting as the white-water kayaking, the canoeing offered a great experience and provided a very big mental challenge for myself and the whole team.

The last days of the trip were spent enjoying white-water rafting which was an amazing experience and the whole team, including the staff, enjoyed it thoroughly. A high-wire course pushed some members of the team to find out new things about themselves.

Overall, the trip pushed us physically and mentally and provided an early life experience that will never be forgotten!Cdt Cpl Hallam Parsons

When I was told that I was going to Norway, I didn’t know what to expect and I was fairly unsure about everything that was happening. I felt almost a bit out of place. But when we hit the white water and progressed through higher and higher grades of rapids, my thoughts completely changed, as my abilities massively improved. The canoeing phase was quite a nice relaxing break after the white-water rapids. Although throughout the three days of sitting in canoes, I was almost itching to get back to the white water. But, despite it being tedious at times, the epic landscape that surrounded me was unbeatable and the achievement as a whole is something to remember.

Overall, this trip to Norway was without doubt one of the best things I have done. With the experience I have gathered, I will be sure to take my kayaking ability further because I am definitely not ‘done’ with white-water yet!Cdt Cpl Tom Norbury

With thanks to:

Ulysses Trust

In partnership with:

Nuffield Trust