This is one of the most challenging things I have ever done. Physically and mentally. But boy, I'm glad I did it. You see, being me, I sign up for anything, thinking "ooo that'd be cool." Having achieved the Bronze DofE award when I was 16, I figured I would give the Gold award a go. It's so challenging because you're trudging through fields, rivers, forests, swamps and marshes literally all day. It's incredibly difficult to cast yourself in the mindset of "it'll all be worth it" because you're in so much pain and you're unbelievably tired. But I couldn't have asked for a better bunch of people to do it with. We've made so many fantastic memories and we all encouraged each other to keep going. Despite having a fair share of 13 blisters between us, we troopered on and all 7 of us achieved our Gold.
We were incredibly lucky with the stunning location we were given; we walked around the beautiful Peak District, specifically Derwent Valley and Ladybower Resevoir. The location was the sort of place where you feel incredibly inspired and I guess, "at one with nature" as these fancy wildlife people so often say. But it's difficult because you're in the middle of nowhere, so we didn't get much wifi signal.
The weather was actually sort of okay- I say "sort of" because I remember very clearly one night it started absolutely pelting it down and everyone jumped in their tents but being me, I'd just started cooking my pasta, so I had to rough it up and sit there in the pouring rain on an incredibly soggy patch of grass stirring my cold pasta that wasn't really heating up any time soon because of the cold raindrops casually landing on the pan. But it's the sort of memory you look back and laugh on. It's character building isn't it I suppose?!
All in all, it was an absolutely magnificent experience with truly lovely people who made it so much easier. Shout out to "team swaggy hat and hairbrades"!
For those of you who don't know about the Duke of Edinburgh Award, you can find out more here.