Saturday, January 8, 2011

The District Winter Expedition 1995-2007

In 1995 Northampton East District Scouts undertook a project for the National Scout Headquarters called the Scout Action Research Project (SARP). This project looked at how we could effectively work with Scouting for 13 to 18 year olds.

We decided that what was needed was an adventurous activity to kick off the project and so the District Winter Expedition was developed. The idea was to take a large group of older Scouts for an adventurous weekend doing mountain activities. What started in 1995 was such a success this expedition continued for thirteen years as a weekend activity. In 2003 this activity became an annual Explorer Scout event.

Over the thirteen years that the District Winter Expedition took place we had well over 400 people take part in this event and stayed in many different areas.

We stayed at Cynwyd Youth Hostel twice for this expedition and this developed our love for the Berwyn Mountains and Dee Valley area and led in 2005 to us having the knowledge of the Youth Hostel to allow us to recommend its purchase to Northampton District Executive.

The format for the expedition was a weekend away leaving on the Friday evening and travelling to our venue. Saturday was a full day walk in Groups of seven usually two adults to five young people. Saturday evening was a main meal and leisure time and then Sunday was another activity like an incident hike, climbing, caving or other activity. The Sundays became quite exciting trips with things like hiking to the Llangollen railway then travelling into Langollen on the train all with a story around why we were doing it. Sunday afternoon was a meal in a local cafe and with the numbers we had we usually took the venue over and then we travelled home.

2007 saw the last Winter Expedition being organised for the District as the birth or our daughter meant that we were unable to commit to it further and nobody else took up the challenge. We still maintain that the formula we developed for this event stood the test of time and in all the hundreds of activities I have run for the Scout Association this event still stands out as the best.

Listed below are the details of the expeditions giving the year and area visited, the main peak ascended and the venue we stayed at.

1995 Peak District
Kinder Scout
Castleton Youth Hostel

1996 Brecon Beacons
Pen Y Fan
Llwyn-y-Celyn Youth Hostel

1997 Berwyns
Cadair Berwyn
Cynwyd Youth Hostel

1998 Peak District
Kinder Scout
Glenbrook Activity Centre

1999 Arans
Aran Fawddwy
Cynwyd Youth Hostel

2000 Berwyns
Cadair Berwyn
Penybontfawr Scout Centre

2001 Carneddau
Creigiau Gleison
Crafnant Scout Centre

2002 Eifionydd
Moel Hebog
Bryn Gwynant Youth Hostel

2003 Snowdonia
Glyder Fawr
The Old School Lodge Deniolen

2004 Lake District (Five Days)
Lamgdale Pikes and Coniston Ranges
Langdale and Coniston Youth Hostels

2005 Snowdonia
Nantle Ridge
Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel

2006 Lake District
Fairfield Horseshoe
Grasmere Youth Hostel

2007 Peak District
The Roaches
Hartington Hall Youth Hostel

In 2004 we had a very special ten year anniversary of the Winter Expedition with a five day trip to the heart of the Lake District. This was open open to sixty Explorer Scouts aged 14 -18 and we did five days of exciting and adventurous activities. We stayed at Langdale Youth Hostel which is near Ambleside and participants all  took part in the following activities:-

  • High mountain walk - The Langdale Pikes
  • Two day mountain expedition with overnight stop at Coniston Copper Mines Youth Hostel
  • Rock scrambling
  • Mountain biking at Grisedale forest
  • High ropes challenge course courtesy of Go Ape at Grisedale forest
  • Water activities on Windermere
  • Climbing
Throughout all the expeditions the main catering was done by a dedicated team of adults usually led by Phil Joyce this allowed the participants to concentrate on the activities.

For each expedition all specialist activity equipment was supplied i.e. maps, climbing and water activity equipment but we asked that all participants had a proper pair of walking boots for each expedition. For each expedition a training evening was held which allowed participants to learn navigation skills, have equipment advice offered and generally find out about everything that was happening during the expedition as well as meeting the staff. This also allowed parents to ask any questions that they had. The training evening was always held a few weeks before the expedition took place.

We are very pleased that over a number of years the District Winter Expedition was at the heart of Scouting in Northampton East and Northampton Scout District activities for 13 to 18 year olds.

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