It's not for everybody this very special challenge: An expedition into the Scottish wilderness. The Cairngorm Highland is a well-known mountain range in the North-East of Scotland; barren mountains, deep valleys, dark forests and deep cold lakes. From the 4th to 9th May 2016, 41 Secondary School students took part in the silver and gold pre-expedition of the International Award. The weather is always unpredictable, but the five groups were rewarded: There was no rain!
There were of course many more highlights: the English breakfast lovingly prepared prior to the expedition, the training day for the silver-groups in the Glenmore Lodge and pasta Bolognese "all you can eat" after the trip.
And during the excursion: The expedition participants were able to enjoy the impressive wild beauty of the Cairngorm Highlands. Who actually has the opportunity to have dinner at sunset amidst an idyllic riverside with spectacular views on mountains covered with lavender-coloured heather? Falling asleep to the sound of a babbling stream, waking up to the cry of the grouse, having breakfast with the team and spending the whole day in the nature. The day trips offered a lot of excitement: crossing rivers, passing waterfalls, walking on paths that disappear, using one's own navigation skills, listening to the funny sound that grouse make when they start flying from heather bushes. This year, there were more animal sightings than ever, including rabbits, weasels, intrusive horses, snakes, pheasants, deer and hundreds of sheep with their lambs.
But of course, there was the difficult part of the expedition. The participants of the three gold groups trekked 80 km in four days, the silver candidates accomplished 45 km. The heavy backpack with luggage for the whole expedition soon led to an aching back and neck tensions, in addition to blisters, cramps at night, perhaps a snoring partner in the tent, morning toilet without beauty case at the cold stream, bush toilet, being plagued by ticks and midges, group dispute and cabin fever and much more. And yet the participants were simply happy in the end that they had managed to accomplish this demanding expedition and were proud of their performance. Congratulations to all!
The participants feel very lucky that the European School offers its students this extracurricular activity. They feel even more grateful that there are so many volunteers who form a team and make this program possible. An expedition at this level with so many participants is an incredible achievement of these volunteers and cannot be sufficiently appreciated. Weeks of preparation, planning and arrangements led to this great experience. Thanks to all helpers!