Walking with; Manchester High School for Girls
The Duke of Edinburgh award has been inspiring, upskilling and motivating young people since 1956 but until this weekend I’d had no direct personal involvement. I’d answered a cry for help from the good folk at Mountain Monkeys who had had an instructor drop out at the last minute and with the work being local I jumped at the chance to get involved.
Along with my fellow instructors we met the staff and students from Manchester High School for Girls at Smithills Dean on the outskirts of Bolton. After making our introductions and having a discussion about our route for the day we headed off past the dilapidated shooting hut out onto Smithills Moor. En route we discussed some of the finer points of navigation, nutrition and natural history and I learned a bit about the reasons the girls had for enrolling on the programme. We discussed their previous outdoor experience which ranged from being active members of the Scouts to never having looked at a map, held a compass or slept in a tent…..We followed Rotary Way down to Two Lads with different group members leading different legs and then dropped down through farmland to the Lower Rivington Reservoir. We handrailed along the shore, passing “The Castle” a folly built as a romanticised version of Liverpool Castle. We continued on to the campsite at Bibby’s Farm where the girls learnt a little about campcraft, erecting tents and cooking themselves some nutritious and tasty tea!
Day two saw the the groups walking independently and trying out some of the skills they’d learnt/developed on the first day. As instructors we waited at pre-arranged checkpoints, rounded up strays and offered encouragement as they worked their way North over Anglezarke Reservoir and then down to Rivington Great Barn where the two day practice run ended. I hope to get involved again in the future and see the progress these polite and able participants make as they work towards completing the award.