After months of preparation three groups of 1220 (March) Air Cadets have completed Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions this summer. Planning started in January when the teams met at the Squadron Headquarters in Gas Road, March to decide where they wanted to go and which routes they wanted to take. The Silver team chose to go to the Yorkshire Dales and the Gold teams opted for the Lake District.
In their teams they planned their three day (for Silver) or four day (for Gold) routes and made decisions about what sites of interest they would like to visit while completing their journey. Training for the Gold teams was conducted in the Brecon Beacons at Easter. They had mixed weather which involved walking in hill fog on Waun Fach, battling the wind on Sugar Loaf, and glorious sunshine on Pen Y Fan.
The Silver team went to Edale in the Peak District for their training on the first May bank holiday weekend. They climbed Win and Lose hills on the first day, took a rainy walk near the Derwent Reservoir – where the Dambusters trained – and finished with a brighter walk from Edale to Castleton.
At the beginning of the Summer Holidays both teams had a final Expedition practise closer to home. They walked from Whittlesey to March and made use of the Scout Campsite in Gaul Road. During this weekend they were able to make final decisions about who was going to carry which bits of group equipment and what food they would want to cook and eat.
The Silver team consisted of Cadets Will Snow, Macauley Milnes, Brandon Casson-Rennie, Hope Bissett and Stacey Stimson. The five headed north in July to complete their journey. They started near Settle – famous for the Railway line – and finished in Kettlewell – famous for being the home of the WI Calendar Girls. On route they visited Malham, and camped at the bottom of Gordale Scar which had an impressive waterfall.
The Gold teams’ expeditions took place over the August Bank holiday. The Lake District provided beautiful views and in the main the weather was kind – not too hot and not too wet.
Sergeants Kyle McLean and Aleks Deaves joined Corporals Joe Goodman and Katie Mowatt to make one team. They started from Windermere Youth hostel and finished at the Patterdale Hotel climbing High Street and visiting Aira Force waterfall on the way.
The second team was made up of Corporal Callum Willox and Cadets Calum Brownlie-Wood, Frasier Casson-Rennie and Ewan MacRae. They started in the village of Kentmere and finished at Aira Force waterfall. On the way they also climbed High Street and they spent a day walking the Helvelyn range from Dollywagon Pike to Whiteside.
Both teams spent one of their evenings camping wild, high in the mountains. They were rewarded with fabulous views when they woke in the morning and also the knowledge that the day would be a downhill one!
Flt Lt Kirsty Burnham, Commanding Officer at 1220 (March) Squadron, said “The expeditions that these Cadets took part in are a huge part of their Duke of Edinburgh awards. We try to do at least one expedition for each Duke of Edinburgh stage at least once a year at a reduced cost to any Cadets who take part. To have 8 of our Cadets take part in their Gold award is quite a record.”
Sergeant Aleks Deaves said “The 4 day expedition was hard work, especially as we live in the Fens where there are no hills or mountains. I did enjoy most of the 4 days, but I was also pleased when we arrived back at the Youth Hostel for our last evening in the Lakes to a hot shower and a cooked meal. The drive back to the Squadron in March made me realise just how flat the fens really are, compared to places like the Lakes. I would encourage anyone who is a Cadet to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh awards”
1220 (March) Squadron is holding an open evening on 9th September from 6:30pm. This is an opportunity for potential Cadets and their Parents to come along and find out more about RAF Air Cadets. Anyone from Year 9 is welcome to come along and speak to the Staff and other Cadets, to find out what RAF Air Cadets is all about. To find out more please visit: www.1220atc.org.uk