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Exhausting, painful, in(tense) (pun intended). All words to describe my DofE experience. As I write this, every muscle in my body is aching and I am hunched over from the burden which was my rucksack. My body is extremely tense but I'm pushing through to write about my experience.

It is impossible to put into exact words my experience of doing DofE Silver and I'm not sure where to start. I guess I should start with the title? Funnily enough it has two "jokes" to it. The first one being the sounds of our panicking voice boxes on Day 2 as we got lost and off the trail thanks to the old Map and the second being the sound the sheep made the entire 3 days! You'd think they'd baah like we've been told all our lives but the little buggers just kept moaning.

Anyway, about us getting lost. We were given an outdated Map and came across a crossover with 3 different paths and had to make a judgement of which to take and decided to go straight ahead. We walked down half confident that we chose the right path to see that we were very much wrong. From that point all we could do was panic when we realised the crossover wasn't even on the map. Somewhere further back we went wrong and didn't realise until we were about 3 miles away.

It was pretty dramatic to say the least. It got dark very quickly, nobody had eaten real food since about 11am and it was almost 10pm; we were sore and tired. Our minds were as all over the place as the sheep! It got real when we called our teacher and were told to blow the emergency whistles. In the end we were found and got to the camp at about 11pm. It was super dark and the torches were all out so we could set up tents and cook. Definitely a story to tell the kids one day but quite a traumatic experience at the time.

That same night, because of having food so late, we went to bed with a burst of energy and were fairly hyperactive but after the reality of what our 3rd day was going to be like if we didn't sleep, we all passed out fairly quickly.

I'm gonna go backwards now and take you to Day 1. The first day was a struggle. I never knew how unfit I had become until Monday. I coped for the majority of the day but the hills were certainly a challenge. They were very steep and kind of deceiving. Every time we thought we had reached the peak, it wasn't even close. There were some amazing views when we actually made it to the top, but was it worth the lack of oxygen to our deflated lungs? Probably not. The pictures don't even do the height any justice.

We met some really friendly people on our way to the destinations. Nothing like people in the city. Not one person didn't at least smile when they walked or drove past. Some even stopped to check we were doing OK and gave the last of their water!

The final day was tough as we were beneath a cloud for the majority of the walk so it got extremely cold very quickly and rained pretty much all day. Overall we were so motivated by the fact that we were going home in a couple hours that we kept a good pace. We had some good conversations and all planned exactly what takeaways we were going to get when we got back. I probably lost a stone over the 3 days but I probably put it back on after my pizza.

The camping itself was not what I expected. I knew I was obviously sleeping on the ground but I had no idea how uncomfortable it was going to be. I woke up feeling as stiff as a lamp post on the final night. I'm happy that I can check camping off my summer bucket list regardless.

I've definitely learnt some lessons from the  DofE practise. One being to remember salt and the other to pack a lot more snacks. I had enough food in terms of dinner but not near enough snacks for throughout the day. I was literally living on cereal bars for hours until dinner time.

Overall the experience had some ups and downs. I have always liked walking but doing it to this intensity isn't really for me. I do not regret taking part but it isn't an activity anybody will see me be quick to sign up for in the future.

I have the accessed version in July so fingers crossed its a whole lot easier.

Thanks for reading,

Have a great day X

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