On Monday 24th July the first UTC Leeds Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition groups headed out to the Yorkshire Dales. Destination Swaledale. Starting at Castle Bolton the first day’s hike was a climb out of Wensleydale and over into Swaledale.
Year 10 students completing the silver level award were supported closely throughout by UTC staff. Students were self sufficient, carrying all equipment and food required for the expedition. Students completed 3 days of hiking setting camp at 2 locations, Reeth and Scabba Wath.
At each camp students pitched their own tents, organised themselves and in their expedition teams cooked evening meals. At both camps students took the early morning challenge of getting up and as a team cooking a breakfast, taking tents down and packing rucksacks to head out on another full hill day in their stride.
On the last day the Yorkshire Dales gave the year 10’s a proper send off, torrential, horizontal rain. They finished strong, arriving back in Reeth ahead of time, happy to see and use a shop before taking to the shelter and comfort of the minibus. Mr Pound described a slightly quieter return journey back to the UTC.
Year 12 students competing the gold level award has a sightly more remote and independent experience. They were remotely supervised and by staff at various locations each day. Their 4 day expedition had them initially set camp at Scabba Wath but then continue deeper into Swaledale traversing Gunnerside Gill to Muker and Usha Gap.
The gold expedition finale was a climb out of Swaledale to set camp outside Tan Hill, the highest and remotest pub in England. The same torrential, horizontal rain that finished off the Year 10 experience stayed with the year 12’s all day a students and staff together climbed through the bleakness of Black Moor and Stonesdale Moor. 200m from the front door, the Pub sat invisible laid in a cloak of mist and rain. Students uncertain of their destination pushing on, staff confident knowing the student’s efforts would soon be rewarded.
Tan Hill did not disappoint; a warm fire, a cooked meal and comfy chairs. In contrast to our day a beautiful, clear summers evening on one of Yorkshire’s most open moors. A proper Yorkshire finale, a chance to talk and reflect on their journey. Without exception our future engineers were planned and prepared. Mental and physical challenges were routinely, systematically overcome. Students supported each other, combining their strengths. Problem’s were solved, solutions found and agreed. Plans, routes executed to arrive at destinations. There was some pain, discomfort, even tears but these were insignificant in comparison to the fun, laughter, life experiences and hopefully pride felt by all.
The UTC Leeds is certainly very proud of all the young engineers challenging themselves in it’s Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. We’ve just introduced the scheme to our new Year 10 and Year 12 students. As the UTC grows, the award scheme grows. What do we challenge them with next?