On the 29th September 2023, 40 young people from 5 Explorer Units and 3 Districts were taken to Eryri National Park in North Wales, led by 16 leaders from 4 Districts for the third County Explorer Hillwalking Weekend. Each year, Explorer Units are identified by DCs and DESCs so that this event is targeted at young people who would not usually get the opportunity to experience a weekend of hillwalking for a variety of reasons.
7 groups took to the hills on a challenging day with rain from the start and fierce winds. All chess pieces were moved into position; 16 in one bus to form two independent groups walking opposite circular routes at Elidir Fawr, 16 in another bus that dropped off 8 at Pen-y-pass for a walk to and over the Glyderau into Ogwen Valley via Devil’s Kitchen, with the remaining group continuing on to Capel Curig for a circular walk to Moel Siabod and 3 groups shared 2 buses that started routes from Capel Curig and Pen-y-Gwryd, one group walking to Y Foel Goch and the down Miners path on the Glyders side of Llanberis Pass with the final two groups going for opposing linear walks on Moel Siabod and the ridge to the west.
Saturday was a long day resulting in a full drying room and some very tired bodies and minds. The Explorers were tested in navigation, in endurance and learned a lot about how to keep warm and safe on the hills. In addition to the Explorer experience, there were adults being asseseed for permits in action, leading young people. This lucky lot were taken out for night navigation after dinner – treat in wonderful weather while the rest suffered tea and biscuits in the warm of Arete – a true sacrifice.
On Sunday, the majority enjoyed more navigation training walking to Crimpiau from at least 4 directions, while those on their T2 Assessments were finishing the weekend away from us. At around 1pm on Sunday, we were treated to some actual, real sunshine! Too bad we were an hour away from finishing all the walking, but some did manage to have a sunny (if not damp) picnic before the long drive home. Feedback from young people has been great and from an adult perspective, it is wonderful to spend a couple of nights with likeminded people with a shared love of mountains and scouting. Bigger and better for 2024 is the current thinking… watch this space.