Gold DofE is an adventure in which you can’t anticipate what will happen next; whether it’s someone falling into muck or taking a wrong turn or two leading to a few good laughs it was one of the best experiences of my life! Here are a couple of top tips to help prepare you.
My favourite part of my gold expedition was definitely the banter that came with seven of us hiking through the Lake District in some of the best weather the UK has ever seen leading to of course some awful tan lines! The enjoyment in setting up camp each night still in sunlight and wearing shorts pretty much 24/7 made the hiking seem not so bad – however we did have to make sure to carry lots of water.
Tips for people going on the gold Duke of Edinburgh; I recommend bringing a bar of natural soap! We camped beside a river one night and to clean my face properly was so refreshing.
I would also recommend taking only the necessities with you; food, clothes, first aid kit, and your parts of the tent. After a day no one cares at all how they look and you will only regret bringing any sort of cosmetics or extra clothes.
Duke of Edinburgh bags come with an adjustable back to evenly spread the pressure across your back and shoulders; for me, I found adjusting this to make sure it was perfectly balanced across my body was a great help and made me feel more stable for crossing rivers.
Bring a speaker. This was one thing our group loved when we were on a steep incline was to play some good tunes and just keep walking. It helped all of us enjoy the scenery and focus on the walking.
Buy a Craghoppers midgie hat. My hat became the prized possession in the group for anyone venturing outside the tent at night; the midgies were all over and loved the Trangia’s – the hat has a net that covers your face and neck so you’ll be free from bites.
Take regular breaks, much better to stop often and for shorter than to take massive breaks all at once. Short breaks prevent a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles which causes cramp and they keep morale high! I recommend not taking any risking mapping decisions, we stopped at every turn (after we made a wrong turn at the start) to triple check we were going the right way – the distance you have to cover each day is long enough without deviating. Spend time on decisions and decide as a group, this way it’s much less likely to be wrong and no one can complain if it turns out to be the wrong direction.
Other than that have a blast, it’s an incredible opportunity and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!