DofE Silver Final Assessment

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On Friday 20th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd April, Beechen Cliff and Hayesfield did their Silver DofE Assessment in the Brecon Beacons.

Similar to our pre-assessment, we met at Hayesfield at 8.15am on the Friday, and drove, via Cardiff service station to the first check-point. Each group was then taken and dropped off at a different start point.
We were the third group to be dropped off, and made good time in getting back to the first check-point. Once we were there, we were told that the original route that we had planned was slightly wrong, as we hadn't planned our route in the same room as everyone else, we hadn't been told to avoid certain points on the route.
After quickly amending our route, and eating our lunch, we headed off over moorland, following the contours, to the footpath that we took off the moor.
We then went through an abandoned farm, and followed a river down to the next checkpoint. From there we went through a large forest, where we met several of the other groups, and followed a footpath that had been completely removed (the signs were still there, the farmer had just made it hard to pass through because he had put barbed wire over several of the gates and locked them - Welsh farmers seem to have a habit of this as I have found this a problem on several occasions whilst training for Ten tors and DofE - but only in Wales). We then followed another footpath, until it completely disappeared into new barbed wire fences. Eventually we found a way back onto open moorland and made our way to the campsite for the night. We were the second group there, and I cooked for everyone once we had got the tents up so that we all got an early night, especially as it was just starting to rain. Once we were in our tents, we heard all of the other groups come in, and were told by the staff to check into tir-y-cwm on our way to the first check-point tomorrow morning, and that we weren't allowed to leave the campsite until 8am the next morning.

The next morning, we got up quite early, had breakfast and got our tents down, but because we weren't allowed to go until 8, we helped group 3 get their tents down as well. We then walked up through the forest that surrounds tir-y-cwm, to the cottage, where we spoke to Mr Young. We then followed various tracks through the forest until we came out onto moorland on the other side. We then walked alongside a long wall, and down off the moor, through a campsite, and along to a pub where the teachers had a manned checkpoint. After briefly talking to them, we went straight up through some fields, and the up to a dismantled railway. We met several groups here, and spent a long time trying to find the right way as another annoying Welsh farmer had covered the footpath gate with barbed wire. Eventually we got through, and followed the railway track to the edge of another forest where we ate our lunch. From there we followed the edge of the forest round until we reached a substantial track. Once we picked up this track, we increased in speed dramatically, and it didn't take us very long to cover the few miles to the next campsite. When we got there, it was too early to put up our tents, so the teachers interviewed some of the other people for the schools blog, while everyone else just relaxed in the sun until we were allowed to put the tents up. The other groups then came in and we ate and chatted for several hours before we eventually went to bed.

The next morning we got up and had a similar routine to the previous morning, except we weren't allowed to leave until 8.30am this morning. We then headed back along the track we had taken on the end of the day before acceding Fan Nedd - mountain. As we went up Fan Nedd the weather started to get very bad. At the top, we had been told to wait for the teachers but because the weather was so bad and some people who had brought poor quality kit were getting soaked, we started to go down the other side of the mountain. On the way down we met Mr Mason and Ms Denning who weren't very happy that we had started to come down, but after we'd explained why, they didn't mind. The teachers then spit us up into our groups and sent us off across the 'roman road' footpath that would take us to the mountain visitor center that was the finish line of the expedition. On the walk along the path, despite being the last group to be let off by the teachers, we over took several groups and came in third overall.
Once all the groups got in we were debriefed before driving back to Bath.

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