Trek day starts here……… Met the team and handed out the food rations for the next two days then headed to the stores to get the rest of the kit squared away, at 10:00 we got on the mini bus and an hour later we were dropped off in the middle of nowhere
And the rain started,
The trek began with a long steep climb, only minutes into the trek I did start to worry as I could here a few moans and groans, and to be fair most these kids had never been in the sticks let alone carry a Bergen which incidentally weighed about 14KG.
As we got near the top of the hill I started to walk with Matt and get to know him a bit better, I listened atentatively about his years of being an instructor and the places he’d worked, and how he was brought up from a young age living the outdoor life, a wealth of experience and knowledge which showed as he walked effortlessly across the bog tuffs, he has a natural passion for the outdoors. Matt is a freelance instructor for OB and runs his own company http://www.wilderness-canoe.co.uk/ ( Which I sure he will not mind me adding his web address to my Blogg Roll)
As we walk across the moor land bog which was covered in Tuff grass and holes every so often one of the kids would disappear down one of the watery holes and I did hear a few choice words from them which amused me. The walk was cold and wet and at one point Matt ended up carry his pack as well as one of the kids packs as one of them developed a back ache.
The real test of the kids mantle came as we came over the brow of a hill to see Matt sitting by a river with his boots and socks off, trousers rolled up to just above the knee, yep we got to cross this river…….so without any moans the kids and I whipped off our boots and socks, rolled up the trousers and were joining Matt, the crossing was cold and stony but we all made it across with no drama, it was also good to see a few of the kids helping each other, once across the heavens opened up once more
It was then a march to find a suitable camp site. We looked at a few sites along the route but they were either too boggy or too bumpy. but at last we found one next to the river, 8km completed and it was 1500 so not a bad trek to start with.
Camp was made with the kids putting up their own tents, Matt and I also got our own tents sorted and decided to get a well earned rest before showing the kids how to cook their tea.
After an hour of chilling out and most of us using a Loo with a View ( thanks H for that great line) it was time for Matt to give a master class in cooking MRE’s in the great outdoors, and to my surprise the was no moaning and they tucked in like it was the last meal ever.
With the sun going down we all retreated to our tents for the night, as I lay there i could hear the kids chatting and as darkness fell a few thought they would try a scare the girls, that was until they saw that my torch could light up the whole camp. Pretty soon they were sleeping and all was quite, apart from the stream and odd zip noise as one of them went to the loo, when I say one I think they felt safer going two by two.
When it was total darkness, I laid in my tent with my head out of the door having a brew just looking up at the stars, and what a show they put on, the longer you looked the more there were, I did try to get a photo but it never came out. It was a chilly night and at one point I got cramp in the calf, again I made a brew but as I put my hand outside i felt ice on the tent…….yea that cold…..
I woke about 0500 and had to brave the cold to use a loo, standing behind a large rock in boots, long-johns and a fleece made me laugh to myself.
At first light we woke the camp and got breakfast on the go, muesli and powered milk in a bag, mmmmm nice, that didn’t go down as well as last nights dinner, the kids looked in horror as I broke up oat cakes and a flapjack to add to mine, then I told them they need to eat well as it was going to be a long hard day ahead of us, a few copied and enjoyed their feast, the others were making hot chocolate. Then came the task I wasn’t looking forward too, breaking camp and repacking, the kids were cold and tired and really not interested in the task. Matt and I de kitted our own stuff and packed then went to help the kids out. 2 and a 1/2 hours later we set off to catch the train some 20 km away, and yes the last time Matt done this trek he missed the train…….
So cold and damp we set off on a 20k yomp. It wasn’t long before we warmed up and the kids were in good form, they were all chatting with each other and Matt had elected two of them to map read. The weather was good to us although a bit windy and only a couple of showers.
The walk was hard and there was some tired feet but the kids were doing really well one of them had got a few bars up on their blackberry, so was happy to walk and txt, to be honest I wasn’t going to stop them if it took the mind off aching feet happy days. The mood was quite good and I was having lots of conversations with all the kids anything from What does DHL do ? to whats army life like ? but the best question of the trek was ‘ Russ, what colour is the train Station?’ of course I had to ask why, and the reply I got was ‘If I know the colour I can motivate myself to get there’ yea kinda gave me a lump in the throat.
It was strange to see the look on the kids faces when we past some Shooters and Beaters on route, something Matt and I took as read in this environment, then there was a pack of working dogs which was really funny, and watching the kids act around the wild running sheep.
After one last stop it was time for the last push, Matt had picked a few berries for the kids to try, but only telling them the were sloes once they had bitten on them, they all saw a funny side to that when the bitter taste got them.
Matt had reminded the team that if we were not at the station by 1430 it would be another 9 mile walk to camp that was enough to spurn them on, and we made the station bang on time.
With the 20k completed it was a great effot by the kids, I was very proud of how they had done, a new bond had formed between them and friendships made, however there was the cries of never again………..
By the time we had got back to the centre there were a few smiles now from the kids, they had great pleasure in telling anyone that would listen they had just done nearly 30 k’s in two days. Now it was unpack and sort kit before dinner and a hot shower.
For me it had been a great trek, seeing the kids change over the two days was fantastic.
as the kids de kitted I caught up with the others, some not so happy
and some still cheering people up
So we packed up just before 5, the kids went off for a shower and scoff, I went off for a shower then met a few of the others for Fish and Chips down the villiage………they were just the best.
That evening the mentors had a meeting with Nicky and Howard just to go over the good and bad from the whole experience; which didn’t last long, it was during this meeting that Barry arrived back from his trek with tales of woe, I’m hoping that Barry writes a blog….Im sure it will be very amusing.
It was then away for an evening session with the kids, first task THE WALL, as tired as they were there best time of the night was 1 minute 8 seconds.
We took the kids back to the common room and started work on the presentation they were going to give the next day, which was all about how the week had changed them. I left the kids about 20:45 as they were getting on just fine with their ideas and the fact I had to join my group to work out what we were going to do for the presentation.
So for the Mentors it was off to the library to study and write our presentations, My group was Spencer, Gemma, Tanya, Keith and Myself. There were small pockets of us in groups in the library, busy trying to get our presentations in order, when the visitors arrived, (these were our line managers and Nicky who had come down prior to watching all the presentations on Friday) they could not believe we were working, but that didn’t last long, the good books by the Reverend James, S Artios and Mr J Daniels came off the shelves and were getting well read and it was not long before Mr S Buka and Ms T E Quila made an appearance. It was a great night of telling stories from the week and laughing at some of the events.
It was then a walk home…Jog and Dip as it will always be known. we got back to the digs and sat around chatting some more we came as 15 strangers and will be leaving the next day all great friends.