The first task of the day was to persuade the boys that in fact they weren’t undertaking an SAS selection course so didn’t have to carry 20kg rucksacks and therefore could leave their spare shoes in the minibuses! Then they were off, up the first very steep climb to the Iron Age fort at Dolebury Warren. Having learnt where the ancient monument got its name (rabbit breeding by the Romans!), they set off on the 10 km walk. It soon become apparent that the rain over the last few weeks had affected the route and, despite continual advice, the boys seemed magnetically drawn to all the mud! However, this didn’t dampen their enthusiasm or slow their progress and they marched on across the hill, maps waving as they went.
The goal was to get to Black Down, the highest point on the Mendips at 325m above sea level, which they all reached, proving that their map reading skills were up to the task. The return journey was more of a slide downhill than a walk, although it must have been hot work as a couple of boys decided to ‘cool off’ by taking a dip in a rather large muddy puddle!
The QE (Queen Elizabeth) Award is exclusive to QEH and the boys take part during Years 5 and 6. They are expected to participate in a variety of modules including learning to get around in the outdoors and expeditioning; finding out more about British wildlife; doing voluntary work with the National Trust; and bushcraft and adventure activities. The school arranges many of these, but the boys and their families are encouraged to do more on their own too. The boys have a log book in which they record their endeavours, usually with lots of photos! The QE Award culminates in Year 6, with an overnight camp on Exmoor.