Cadets from 470 Squadron were in the Pentland Hills over the weekend participating in their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh qualifying expedition.
Below is an article written by 470 Cadet, Craig Smith who participated in this event.
On Saturday the 2nd of May, 7 voluntary cadets took part in the second stage of the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. The qualifier.
This stage of the award is the final expedition of the Bronze Award. The expedition consisted of walking from Penicuik to Bonaly Scout Centre (By walking over the Pentland hills) and staying over the night. The second day consisted of walking from Bonaly Scout Centre to the Midlothian Snow-Sports centre.
All 7 cadets left the squadron at approximately 0940 hours and arrived at Penicuik about 40 minutes later. Our Civilian Instructor (CI) who was in charge of both days, Joseph Docherty, dropped us off just outside an entrance to a farm which led us onto the Pentland hills. The first hour of the walk was extremely easy as we only had to follow the path until we came across a split in the path. One path continuing in a straight line, the other leading up to the peak of West Kip. Now unfortunately for us, our route told us to head up to the top of West Kip. This hill didn’t appear to be very high but it was extremely steep. This hill took us approximately 20 minutes to climb.
All the way through the route our instructor always kept tabs on us in case of any emergency. This was either through GPS tracking, text messaging (however this proved not to be useful because there was no service in the middle of the hills) or just watching us from a distance all the way through the journey. In fact, his team managed to do this without us knowing at all! However, this was not to be in our favour as we found out later.
When we reached the peak of West Kip, our route card told us to follow the path over East Kip and head down to the reservoir, using this path. However, the weather decided to hit us with freezing cold winds and we all thought that it would be a better idea if we made a shortcut. Instead, we decided to alter the route slightly by making a B-line directly down the side of the hill to the reservoir. We were faced with more difficulties than expected, for example, the shortcut we took was almost like a miniature valley which led a stream to the reservoir. This “shortcut” was noticed by the team of our instructors (Bearing in mind that we didn’t know this until the end) and they were a little confused about the route choice. They knew that we were travelling in the wrong direction but they didn’t know if it was intentional or not. Eventually, after a long shortcut and many rest breaks, we made it down to the road alongside the reservoir.
The walk alongside the reservoir took about an hour until we finally came face-to-face with an old bombing range located in the hills. As we were nearing the finish line for the day, we decided that we should all have a group photo together to prove that we had done it. We then began what should’ve been the final leg of the days walk. The terrain of the old bombing range was extremely uneven which made it very difficult to walk on. By this point a couple of cadets started to lag behind due to sore feet and tiredness. This resulted in the team being more impatient to get to the camp site and we were losing motivation for the rest of the walk. Eventually, after a longer walk than expected and a lot of moaning, we reached the start of the final leg – a small reservoir.
Once we reached the reservoir, our motivation and attitudes recovered, knowing that we were only meters away from the campsite. We pushed forward towards the campsite along very uneven, gravelly terrain then down a steep hill which led us to our campsite. And there it was. Our home for the night.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is very enjoyable but also very demanding. We all had a great time on the expedition and cannot wait until we begin our Silver Award. Congratulations to the cadets who finished the qualifier on this weekend, especially due to the harsh weather conditions of the following day. I strongly advice everyone to give the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme a go as it is highly enjoyable and is well worth the effort that you put in.
Cadet Craig Smith, aged 15.