Eastrek 2013

22 Scouts and Leaders left Finchbase at 9.30am on 29th March and headed down the M4 to Botany Bay Campsite in Tintern near Chepstow. After a good journey, slightly delayed by Good Friday traffic, we arrived at the campsite around midday and set about pitching camp. Following a wet winter the site was in much better condition that we had expected. Packed lunches were eaten and then we set off for our first walk of the weekend.

We headed down toward Tintern, past the Kingstone Brewery for emergency leader supplies, and then arrived at the Abbey. The scouts headed for the playground to burn off some energy while the leaders opted for a more leisurely cream tea so all were happy. Having burnt off some energy we headed back up the hill to the campsite, to a few moans and groans, having completed a nice 10KM walk.

Dave & Jenni set the standard for the weekend by providing an excellent dinner of sausage, gravy and mash followed by the most excellent sticky toffee pudding and custard. The it was time for Dave's cryptic quiz, given much abuse for some difficult questions and, apparently, leniancy to the scouts on some answers just to ensure that the leaders couldn't win. What leaders will do when faced with the opportunity to win a Milky Way.

The end of day one came with some strong advise to wrap up warm for bed and then add another layer as the temperature was going to drop below freezing.

Saturday morning came with some nice sunshine and after a hearty breakfast we packed our day sacks and heade north towards Lower Redbrook, first passing Cleddon Falls. A small map reading error meant we headed down the falls and then back up a very steep hill to get back on track. A pretty detour and a good learning curve for the scouts to check which way to go at a footpath junction.

We got to Lower Redbrook around lunchtime and stopped by the river to consume sandwiches then headed up onto Offa's Dyke to then head back south on the other side of the River Wye experiencing some stunning views from the top of the Dyke.. After a good afternoons walking we go to Brockwier Bridge and another lesson for some weary scouts most of him had run out of food. Fortunately leaders had packed their bags with some sugary snacks and after an energy boost we completed the last 3kms up the Wye Valley Way back to the campsite. A great days walking and a very respectable 22.8km walk

Following another hearty dinner the scouts headed out to build a camp fire. There were a few songs, although nobody seemed to be in great voice and then a lot of effort trying to perfect the toasting of marshmallows and then it was time for bed.

Easter Sunday bought another sunny day and we headed off towards Brockweir Bridge to pick up where we had finished yesterday. When we got to the bridge we were greeted by the site of, literally, hundreds of tractors coming over the bridge. We had stumbled across a National Tractor Rally that had started at Chepstow Race course and was doing a circuit around the local area. much time was spent looking at some of the vintage machines which clearly bought a new meaning to being "stuck behind a tractor"

Then came the big climb back up onto Offa's Dyke. The hill seems to go on for ever but worth it when you get to the top and then we headed south into Chepstow for a lunch stop at the very impressive castle. A good 13km walk at which point a couple of scouts opted for the lift back to site while the rest of us continued the journey north up the Wye Valley towards Botany Bay taking in some great views, passing an ice cave and then through a tunnel carved out in the rocks. After a long day, and a very good 25km walk the scouts still had the energy to run around the site on an Easter Egg hunt. It's amazing how the promise of chocolate can provide an energy rush.

Monday morning arrives and of course it is the 1st of April. The scouts are going to have to eat their breakfast outside as we have caught an animal in the hut overbight. All the cereals are set up on the picnic table and they all set about tucking into breakfast, albeit a little bemused. Then the leaders decide that it is time to get Jake Taylor, our aspring vet, to come insside and have a look at what we have caught under the upturned crate. All the scouts are invited into the hut and Jake is presented with a pair of thick gloves just in case. He cautiously lifts the crate and encounters.....a very dangerous piece of paper with "April Fool" written on it......one of our better camp stunts!!!

We strike camp and hike down into Tintern for a final play in the playground before being picked up by the minibus and heading back to Finchbase following another successful Eastrek.

This is the 7th Eastrek we have done and plans are already underway for the 2014 trip.

My thanks to all the leaders for helping with the walking, Dave & Jenni for the excellent catering over the weekend and, of course, the Scouts, for entering into the spirit of the weekend and doing some great walking

Photos can be found at http://bit.ly/Eastrek2013