Hello Dear Reader
I am back from my travels, I was totally knackered and for the first two days after returning I went to bed about 20:00 and did not wake up again till the alarm went off at 6:30. However, that is the joys of running an expedition of this nature.
I am going to give you a break down of what happened and I think the easiest way is do to this by days almost in a diary format so here goes
Friday 23rd July 2010 – 21:00
The Avon Unit gathered at our county campsite (Woodhouse Park) and set up base in the Training Centre, we have booked the aptly named Hilton (local joke about the bunk rooms) for sleeping (what is that) before heading off to Heathrow Airport. As you can imagine there was not much sleeping done on the first night there never is, the excitement of going and far too much sugar just meant that by the time the bus came there were quite a few tired people getting on the bus.
Saturday 24th July 2010
Our Bus arrived on time at 03:45 and the driver looked very worried at the amount of kit we had, “this one only has a small boot” he commented and he was not wrong thankfully the bus sat 22 and we were only 17 so the whole back seat could be used for bags. The journey was pretty uneventful except for the point were we stopped at Reading services for a pee and an M&S Lorry smacked into the back of the bus.
It did not too much damage just whapped the back corner as he got his turning circle slightly wrong. Gave us all a bit of a jolt but apart from that nothing serious and thankfully the bus was good to carry on to Heathrow.
We arrived at Heathrow Terminal 5 and very posh it is (it is nice to see the Inside as I use to work at the airport when they started building it but that is another story) First call was to unload the bus and make our way to group check in I also had to arrange to phone Radio Bristol to conduct a phone interview about our trip (I am waiting to obtain the clip and when I do I will add it here) nothing like a good bit of scouting publicity.
Check in was great for all the bad press we chose to fly with British Airways and they were great, I will admit there are cheaper ways to fly but if you’re taking a large group I would strongly recommend giving them a call. The little things they offer make life so much easier, dedicated checking, 23kg hold baggage and 2 pieces of hand baggage all free, group seating so you are not all spread out over the plane.
After an uneventful flight we arrived in Stuttgart Airport where we were met by Dominik, a leader from DSPG Hannover whose job it was to lead our group from the airport to the youth hostel where we spent one night before starting the walking.
This first 12 hours was a time for rest, recuperation and getting to know the people we would be walking with. The group from Avon had only met three times before and now add to that getting to know 2/3 German scouts as well it was not a trip for the shy.
The time spent in the hostel was used to learn each other names, find out a bit about the groups. from a leaders point of view find out what exactly the young people you were responsible for were going to be doing. It turned out, some what to my relief, that all the groups would be walking with at least one adult. I drew the lucky straw although I ended up with the group of youngest scouts, lots of encouragement needed (more about that later), I was in the group that was to be met each day by the transport van and therefore did not have to carry full kit (Yeah).
Sunday 25th July 2010
After a long flight and a full day I could have slept anywhere, thankfully I had comfortable bed and I fell asleep when my head touched it and did not wake till the alarm went off at 07:00.
The morning was very fraught, people getting breakfast, whole group photos to be taken, individual walking group photos to be taken, Kit to be packed up and sorted (in some cases the young people (YP) were not going to see their bags again for 3 days) and then in most cases heading off to the train station to catch a train to the start point. There was only one group who were starting from Pforzheim walking. My group had nearly a
The first day we made very slow progress partly because the YP’s did not listen to me when I said “Guys we don’t have to carry anything but lunch, water and a raincoat” one of the YP still brought Mess kit, wash Kit, clothes, shoes, in their rucksack. Partly because they were tourists and wanted to take photos of everything from the road signs to the views and partly because it was a pretty steep climb we had to tackle to start the route and for a few of the YP’s this was the first serious walking they had done. So after completing 7km and reaching a height of 860m (2800ft) [OK we did start at 700m], it was coming up to 18:00 and time to start to look for some were to stay.
We had made it to a small village called Randen with a few farm a small hotel and a church, the first farm we went to was full the farmer had people in working his fields and they were sleeping in the barn, Next stop was the church which was lock and although we looked about for the minister’s house it was not obvious. The second farm we went proved no luck either. however, the last farm we went, with all the YP’s thinking we would have to hike on to the next village, the farmer said we could camp on the small patch of grass out the back which considering we were being met by the transport van with tents, this was an option available to us.
So we pulled out a small hike tent for the leaders and a Kohten for the YP’s (for those not familiar with the Kohten they are the very cool black German tents http://www.kohten.com/)
I have seen the Kohten and the larger brother the Jurten(Yurt) before at Jamboree (for those who have the Black Magic Tent (is a very large Jurten)
There it is the first three days the next three are coming soon