There were a few nervous faces at the start of our Bronze practice expedition in the North Downs this weekend. Following a training weekend last month, half of our expedition teams from Sutton gathered for some kit checks before the off, with instructors walking with groups for the first part of day one. Nerves were soon gone as teams settled into navigating between each leg, climbing over the numerous stiles (there seemed to be loads!) and manoeuvring around the big mud patches left by the rain. Lots of showers were dodged and fears about cows put to rest as we passed through fields with ease!
Our campsite for the night had a lovely wooded area and instructor Mat gave an evening bushcraft session on how to find the best wood for a fire (even after the monsoon had left everything rather damp...), how to make a campfire and keep it going, and the all-important technique for marshmallow toasting...a very important business! A lovely couple of hours were passed around the campfire before retreating out of the trees to tents for a rainy night.
Day 2 was bright and sunny and teams set off unaccompanied, ready to find each checkpoint and get to the finish point. Everyone put in a great deal of effort and made really good progress with navigation skills including some tricky terrain through fields, farms and woods. We finished back at our start point from the day before but this time in the sun - only debriefs were left before everyone could get home to a bath and a well-earned dinner. We look forward to the next round of practice expeditions on the North Downs next weekend and the qualifying expeditions in September.
Good luck to Sutton Silver teams on their Ridgeway practice expeditions next week too...
Keeping out of the worst of the showers in the trees...
Open fields and plenty of sheep to see...
Super 'stiling'! (sorry)
Bushcraft session with Mat - learning about fire safety, how to build a good fire and keep it going (essential for marshmallow toasting...)
Team challenge: collecting the best sort of wood and learning how to keep the fire going
Team success...get those marshmallows toasted!