Anna’s Bronze DofE Experience

Read on to find about Annas experience of taking part in her bronze expedition.

As I sat drinking the coffee I’d bought as a reward for finishing my expedition letting the warmth consume my body, I thought about going home. When the rain started for the millionth time this weekend, I looked round at my friends splayed across the picnic bench we shared, I felt something between relief and pride, like someone had just lifted the world of my back.

You would think I’d have felt worse after the days of walking but in reality, I felt as though I could do it all again. My Duke of Edinburgh expedition had felt like one of those things that you talk about, but it always seemed so far into the future. Until it came. I stood over the kitchen sink filling up my water bottle, the last thing I had to do, my eyes stinging from my earlier meltdown. I felt as though I might explode from the anxiety and excitement swirling around inside me, I felt as though it might come leaking out of me through my eyes, my ears, my nose, and my mouth but from the moment I stepped out the car at Clachan I knew it wouldn’t be so bad.

As we set off life felt like a fever dream, just the five of us walking along. We walked along the route stopping to take pictures of sheep or to sit awkwardly on a bench to relieve the weight of the massive bags on our backs. Suddenly it was lunchtime, and we were seated around a picnic bench in Strathblane after meeting up with our leaders, Kirsty, and Jennifer. By this time, we were already soaked, but as the rain continued so did we. When we thought we were lost I could’ve just stopped right there and then. Me and Freya were trying to work out how far along we were hoping we hadn’t gone too far.

Once we decided we hadn’t gone too far and we were going to continue it felt wrong still as though we weren’t supposed to be going that way but when we see the wooden sign described on the route card things suddenly felt like they had clicked back into place again. Walking through the gate into the campsite was a massive relief knowing we could take off our massive heavy bags. Setting up the tents was the easy part, for Freya and I anyway, our leaders had been given a cabin to stay in which was a blessing because we had somewhere to cook that was dryer than outside and we could hang up our clothes which were soaking even though we had been wearing waterproof jackets and trousers. Sitting in the cabin for majority of the night was great. Washing the dishes after our dinner felt like you had just plunged into an ice bath after stepping out a nice hot bath. Once we got cosied in our tent for the night it didn’t take long for us to fall asleep even though it was so cold.

Throughout the night we woke up on many separate occasions each one more disorientated than the last. 2. 2:30. 3. 4. 4:30. 5. 6. By the time it reached 8am we decided to get up even though our alarms weren’t due to go off until 9:30. As we packed up our bags and our tents, I couldn’t believe it was nearly over. Just before we set off, we got a group photo and Freya, and I got a photo of just the two of us because this was the last thing we needed for bronze. The second day of walking felt slightly freeing, exciting. As we all just walked and admired the views it began to feel like a fever dream once more but in a completely different way. We were stopping at a café called The Beech Tree Inn and as soon as it came into our line of sight, our bags felt suddenly lighter, and we felt slightly more awake.

Looking back, I feel a massive sense of pride not just for me but for my friends who tried something new and didn’t just give up at the first hurdle. Even if I had to try and keep their spirits high. It taught me that even though I might be scared to just do it anyway because it’s a liberating feeling doing that something you thought you couldn’t. It also showed me that being resilient isn’t easy but it’s like receiving all the money in the world. So, thinking back I’ve learned no matter what just do it, because it will always be worth it but never in the way you think.

Reflective Essay by Anna, Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Achiever

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