The Duke of Edinburgh expedition is a challenge whether you are doing the bronze, silver or gold level but it is also very rewarding. With expedition training about to start, our top tips from those who have completed the expedition should help make your adventure an enjoyable one to.
Before You Go
- Pack thoughtfully; remember you will have to carry everything you take. You’ll probably end up wearing the same trousers each day but make sure you have an extra set for emergencies.
- Take a sleeping mat. Days sleeping on the ground is tough and cold; a sleeping mat is light to carry and will make a big difference to your comfort.
On the Go
- Vary who is leading and at the back of the group. This will ensure each person has a chance to take charge but will also allow for a varied pace as everyone’s speed will be different. Where possible let the slower people in your group walk near the front so they are not left behind.
- Have time guides for reaching certain points of your expedition as this will allow you to track your progress.
- Try to keep everyone’s spirits up and encourage people who are struggling. Telling stories and singing songs can help keep the mood up and help pass the time.
- Don’t worry about your appearance. There is a good chance you will end up wet, muddy and sweaty! The easiest way to keep clean is by using wet wipes. These are a lot easier to carry and lighter than having various toiletries, not all places you are camping at will have washing facilities either. Unscented wet wipes will also help to avoid attracting insects.
- Share the load of the heavier weighted equipment i.e. tent/stove/food. This will avoid anybody struggling due to the weight of their rucksack. If somebody in the group is struggling and you are managing you might want to think about taking some of the weight out of their bag to help them out.
- Eat heavier food first as this will help to lighten the load you are carrying.
- Check your navigation regularly even if you believe you are correct it is very easy to move off route quickly.
Taking a Break
- Consider putting an extra layer on as you will cool down very quickly when not moving.
- Try and do multiple things at one break rather than stopping every 10 minutes. Get a drink, put some snacks in your pocket, check your map and adjust your layers if needed, this will save a lot of time in the long run.
- If you’re just stopping briefly do not take off your rucksack! Though this may be tempting, it will feel much heavier when you put it back on. If possible lean against a rock/tree to take some of the weight.
At the Campsite
- Make sure when setting your tent up at night, no matter how tired you are, that you always check that the ground is smooth with no rocks and reasonably dry (where possible).
- When at the campsite split up tasks. For example if you are in a group of four, two people could be putting up the tents, one collecting wood to build a fire and one person could cook dinner. This will make sure everything gets done before everyone is too tired or it is too dark.
- Always be aware of your surroundings, keep an eye out for any animals in the vicinity or any areas of unstable ground that could cause problems.
- Each morning make sure you fill up your water containers as you do not know when you will next get the chance to fill them up.
- Take flip flops for the campsite, they are light to carry and after a hard day your feet will thank you.
- Stuff your sleeping bag’s stuff sack with clothes, rather than taking a pillow. This will save on space.