Silver D of E Practice Expedition
Day 1 Monday 1st April
You could be mistaken in thinking we were duped with the date, but no, today was really the day the Rangers had decided to set off on their three day practice expedition and they had asked us to be their Supervisors. Brave girls.
We met them at the viewpoint on Findhorn beach on a cracking day, blazing sun and a light cooling breeze. After a kit check we popped their spare water for camping in the boot of the car along with one of the girls’ packs (she has special allowance to just carry a daysack) A little pep talk and they were on their way towards Burghead and their first wild camp.
Ben Wyvis (will feature a lot…) behind the Findhorn Marina
On their way
We stayed and had a chat with the twins’ dad, an ex-colleague of TTS, before we made our way home for a coffee and second breakfast. It’s hard work, this supervising business.
After a bit of a rest, we jumped back in the car and made our way to Roseisle Forest where we had planned to catch up with the girls. The car was neatly abandoned in the busy car park and we strolled into the forest to find them. It wasn’t long and as luck would have it, we’d chosen the high path and they were on the lower one, so we were able to keep an eye on them without them knowing we were there. This is called Remote Supervision. I’d call it stalking.
The way through the woods
We can see you
Man in black
After a short while they stopped, which we noticed and dived into the undergrowth unseen. after a good break, they set off again and we followed. They took a path that winds through the trees but we stayed on the main path. They obviously realised they were slightly ahead of schedule, so they stopped again! This time on a handy bench. We decided at this point we were so close to the car park we might look a bit strange loitering close by and might be as well joining them for a chat. Not long after we were at the car park again and the girls chose a bench in the sun to relax and have their lunch stop, remembering to take off their boots to cool their feet and tend to any hot spots or blisters.
Once on their way again they didn’t have far to go, about 2.5 km, so we arranged a meet point again so that we could give them their water (forestry camps don’t offer good water) and the pack. Luckily we were able to park less than half a kilometre from our meet point so didn’t have far to carry that enormous pack.
Disused railway to Burghead
Here they come
TTS and I had previously scouted out a good pitch, but just suggested an area to them among the trees so they could find their own. They picked a good spot. We wandered around a while, giving them some time and space to pitch and waiting mainly to make sure they were in good spirits and starting to cook a hot meal. Off we went again, home to collect two of our own offspring to go shooting, their D of E skill activity. We popped back at nightfall just to say goodnight, then it was home to our warm, comfy bed for the night.
Catching the evening sun
Day 2 Tuesday 2nd April
The girls had had a cold night and were perhaps less than up beat when we met them. They’d had breakfast and were striking camp, but had the aches and pains you’d expect. Soon they were on their way again, perhaps with less than the usual spring in their step.
I dropped David in Burghead to stalk them alone a while and I drove on to Hopeman to abandon the car at the pretty harbour and walk back towards Burghead to meet them.
Pretty little boat
That hill again
I soon met them coming along the path and this time they were in fair better spirits. Could have had something to do with the easy path they had chosen, but it did get a bit more rough from here on. Only a little bit.
Following the railway line
We left them having lunch at another handy picnic table just by the powder rooms and drove to Lossiemouth Campsite where they were planning to stop for the night. When they’d phoned to book it turned out they wouldn’t accept under 21s, so we weren’t going get to stay in the cosy bed we’d booked for that night, we had to camp too. Joy.
Anyway, we pitched our tent, (the only one at this point) left the car at the campsite and walked back along the Moray Coast Trail towards Covesea as the path is quite close to the cliffs here and we were required to provide Close Supervision for a short distance. Once we reached the Coastguard Lookout Point we took advantage of a handy bench to wait a while.
Here they are
And when they arrived, they were again in slightly low spirits. They were however looking after each other and even had an order to walk in in single file to walk along the cliffs. It didn’t take long before we were down on the beach for the last stretch in to the campsite. But they still had time for a break.
Ten green bottles anyone?
They were all very happy to reach the campsite, Popped up their tents, (to bring the total number of tents to three…) out with the Triangas and we popped down the road to the pub for a bar meal. When we got back, they were off to the powder room to get themselves sorted for bed and we popped to the bar for a pint and a hot chocolate! We were soon in our own tent, one complaining of being toasty and the other trying hard not to over-layer in the freezing cold.
Day 3 Wednesday 3rd April
Well, we all survived. It was another bright day and despite having been a cold night the girls were in much better spirits, this being their last day and were up, breakfasted and striking camp in good time. They were ready to leave by 10.15 am, well ahead of schedule. We waved them off and got in the car to go and find something yummy for breakfast.
Out there, somewhere, were our girls…
A couple of filter coffees, bacon butties, a tea cake and a scone later, we thought we should head off to meet them at their lunch stop and they were bang on time. All smiles and cheeriness, they sat at another handy picnic bench to fire up the Triangas for Heinz Squeeze and Stir soup (I love this stuff, comfort in a mug) and munch cheesy snacks.
They were now so close to their destination they could almost touch it and were soon on their way again.
At this point, I had to abandon TTS to his fate and rush back to collect youngest daughter for a weekend job interview, but he assures me he neither lost nor broke anyone, which is really good news. They finished feeling a sense of achievement and now with the self belief that they could walk for three days with those packs and survive
Well done girls!
Roll on July. Yey…