The eastern Pyrenees is a wonderful location to explore for your Gold DofE It has a feeling of wildness and remoteness and the weather is almost always beautiful being so close to the Mediterranean.
Download an information pack here.
An 8 day experience in the sunny and dramatic mountains of the Pyreneés-Orientales in France including an acclimatisation day, a four day expedition with wild camping and a jeep ride and guided mountain walk to the summit of Mount Canigou.
Accommodation before and after the expedition is at nice local campsites one of which has a swimming pool. During the expedition camping is at wild or semi-wild campsites.
Pyrenees Gold expeditions are always qualifying expeditions and are available for groups of 4 or more. Dates are arranged at a time convenient to your group and when we have availability but must be between June and October.
2014 prices are from £550 per participant excluding travel to Perpignan.
Choosing the right amount and right kind of food will make a huge difference to how successful and enjoyable your DofE expedition will be.
Choosing foods you like makes all the difference on your expedition because it will really improve your mood if you eat something you like and make you depressed and ready to give up if you are trying to eat something you hate. However many people, especially at bronze, choose things just because they like them without considering the things below and end up with something that’s really heavy, goes bad, doesn’t fill them up or that won’t cook properly.
You need to be aiming to eat at least 2,000 calories per day if not 3,000. This is a lot of food however and I haven’t seen many DofE participants eat 3,000 calories a day. On packaging calories are written as kcal / 100g which means how many thousands of calories there are per 100g. However in normal everyday life when we say 1 calorie we mean 1,000 calories or 1kcal.
The food groups are fat, protein, carbohydrate (including sugar) and (technically speaking) alcohol. Obviously we only need to bring the first three with us on our expedition.
Fat has the highest energy/calorie value per 100g of any food type but you can’t survive purely on fat and it doesn’t taste that great on its own (would you eat just butter?). Includes cheese, nuts and meat.
Proteins have a similar number of calories per 100g to carbohydrates but half as many as fat. Some people seem to need more protein than others: if an egg or piece of cheese fills you up more than a bowl of cereal then you are probably one of these people and should take more protein with you.
Carbohydrates are normally the main body of any meal. They give the fastest energy release. Includes rice, pasta, potatoes and bread.
Here are our suggestions for good things to include in your meals. Then I have included a list of things to avoid because they can cause specific problems when camping.
Suggestion – Must be instant, not whole oats. Mix 50g oats, 50g powdered milk and 15g sugar in a small sandwich or freezer bag. Add 350ml water and cook whilst stirring until everything goes thick. You could also use an preprepard sachet of instant oats like Oat So Simple but these do not contain powdered milk.
Suggestion – Choose the highest calorie per 100g cereal you can find (as long as you like it). Most cereals are around 340 – 380 calories per 100g but Crunchy Nut Cornflakes are over 400 and crunchy muesli type cereals (anything with ‘cluster’s in the name) are around 480 calories per 100g! Mix 50g cereal and 50g powdered milk in a sealable bag. To eat empty into a bowl and then pour cold water over and stir.
Suggestion – Not very high in calories and the tins weigh quite a bit but if a hot plate of beans makes you feel better in the morning then give it a go. You can get half size cans as well and ones with sausages in have a higher calorie content.
Suggestion – Not very satisfying but some people like to get away early in the morning without doing any cooking or washing up so cereal bars might do at a pinch. Get the highest calores per 100g.
Suggestion – Instant soup sachets with pitta bread to dunk.
Suggestion – Not on its own but with some food as well hot chocolate can add some extra calories and warm you up nicely on a cold morning.
Suggestion – Sausages which are smoked or cooked or dried already and which have not been taken out of their packets should be fine but if they are supposed to be kept in a fridge eat them the first day.
Suggestion – If you make yourself some hard boiled eggs before leaving home they should be ok for at least 24hrs but don’t keep them too hot for too long and try not to get them squashed…
My personal approach to lunch is the deconstructed sandwhich idea: instead of making a sandwhich bring the ingredients you would like to have in a sandwhich with you separately so they don’t get squished and go soggy. Then eat them at the same time. You will also want to swap the bread for something that lasts longer (see bready things below). You could always bring some individual sachets of mayonnaise, ketchup etc to make things more interesting.
Suggestion – Can be warmed up on top of a pan lid whilst you cook something else underneath and can’t get squashed as they already flat (actually oat cakes will get a bit squashed but thats ok)
Suggestion – If you want a hot lunch treat read the dinner section below for suggestions
Suggestion – Dried meats like pepperami, chorizo, beek jerky etc are all great sources of protein and fat. Anything out of the fridge section of the supermarket is a bad idea as it could go bad and give you food poisoning. The only exception might be frankfurters if you eat them soon on your expedition as they are salty and pasteurised to kill any bacteria. Once open they are not safe however so eat them all!
Suggestion – Tins of sardines, mackerel, tuna in sauce, oil or brine. Yummy and nutritious and can be eaten straight out of the tin saving on washing up.
Suggestion – Most cheese will go sweaty and gross in your rucksack. Stick to things which are individually wrapped like babybel, dairy lea or cheese in a tube (are you sure you want to go there?). Presliced cheese is also great (Mexicana, Applewood smoked etc) but sooner or later the slices will stick to each other and become hard to separate so either separate them better in advance or enjoy them as they are all glued together.
Again choose a carbohydrate and a protein and go for the highest calories and the shortest cooking times.
Suggestion – One of my favourite camping foods. Incredibly easy to cook, hardly uses any water so takes seconds to boil enough and is warm and filling.
Suggestion – Never bring normal rice as everything takes twice as long to cook on a camping stove as on a stove at home and rice already takes 20mins so thats 40mins…. nightmare. 10min boil in the bag rice is OK but the best kind is the pre-cooked type in a sachet such as Tilda Steamed Rice or Uncle Ben’s Express. Also see instant risotto in the dinner section below.
Suggestion – Just like rice never bring any kind of pasta which takes 10 or more minutes to cook normally. Only use quick cook types or instant meal types (like Pasta n’Sauce). Noodles tend to be faster than pasta and some pre-cooked types are virtually instant- you just stir them around in a little boiling water to heat them and eat.
Suggestion – My other favourite carb along with instant mash. Get sachets of risotto which are already cooked with various flavours in like Uncle Ben’s Risotto. You can even boil the sachet in water without opening it then eat it out of the sachet when hot. Just pour two or three dessert spoons of boiling water into the sachet after opening and give it a stir. No washing up! Yeah!
Easy peasy to make- get the precooked one, it should say something like: ‘leave for 3mins’ not: ‘leave for 10mins’. Measure how much couscous you are going to use (50g per person) and add the same volume of boiling water. About half a mug of each per person. Then just wait a few minutes.
Suggestion – You can now get cooked tuna steaks in sauce or oil in a plastic sachet. You can heat them up by boiling the unopened sachet in water. 116 kcal/100g
Suggestion – A vegetarian dried chili con carne like stuff which you add water to and heat up. 315 kcal/100g
Suggestion – Dried sausage like salami or chorizo can be sliced and thrown into past, risotto or eaten on its own. It has a very high protein and calorie content. 407 kcal/100g.
Suggestion – Mattesons’ Smoked Pork Sausage is salty enough and has been smoked enough to preserve it and so as long as you don’t open the packet it will keep in your bag for the duration of your expedition. 310kcal/100g
Suggestion – Some cheeses will go slimy in your bag, especially on a hot day. There are a few which will be fine- camembert, brie, babybel and feta. Camembert and brie will go very soft and runny but that’s how you’re supposed to eat them anyway… About 290-320 kcal/100g. Pre-sliced cheeses are great too but open the pack and separate the slices out otherwise they will stick together.
Suggestion – You can either get a sauce which does not contain meat/protein such as tomato pasta sauce or a “complete sauce” such as Dolmio Express bolognaise or carbonara which contain beef mince or ham respectively and come in sachets. Buy sauces in sachets instead of glass jars and try to get ones in single serving sizes so you don’t have to reseal the packet. Most sauces are under 100 kcal/100g but satay sauce is nearly 200 kcal/100g because it contains peanuts and black bean sauce 136 kcal/100g.
Snacks are very important if you want to increase your calorie count from around 1,500 to over 2,000. Snacks tend to have very high calories per 100g. Conversely this is why you should avoid snacks if you are on a diet! Remember you are not on a diet when on your DofE, even if you do want to lose weight, don’t try to do so on your expedition!
Suggestion – Nuts are very high in fat and therefore very high in calories. You can mix them with dried fruits to make ‘trail mix’. You can put whatever you want in your trail mix and put it in a resealable plastic bag. You can have it in your pocket ready for your hand to dip in whenever you feel a drop in energy.
Suggestion – When people do a serious expedition to the South Pole or something they do not eat breakfast or lunch and instead just make a big bag or special trail mix which they keep eating all day. It contains broken up pieces of high calorie chocolate bars, flapjacks, chunks of cheese, salami and nuts. You could try making your own one or if the idea of eating salami and chocolate at the same time puts you off try making a savoury and sweet one separately.
Suggestion – Although on hot days chocolate might melt a little its got masses of calories in a small compact size, doesn’t go off and almost everyone likes it. The highest calorie bars are Kit Kat Chunky, Mars Bar, Snickers, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Basically anything ‘chunky’.
Suggestion – Traditional hard boiled sweets are great as they contain plenty of calories and you can suck them as you walk. Starburst etc are also good ideas. Take ’em if you like ’em.
Suggestion – Either in your trail mix or on their own peanuts contain loads of calories and don’t go off. Check that no-one in your team has a peanut allergy though as its one of the worst allergies!
Suggestion – Yum yum. Don’t get anything sausage like which is supposed to be kept in the fridge though.
Generally speaking you will run out of any drink you are carrying at the end of the first day and need to refill. As you can’t buy anything on your expedition its going to be water you’re drinking. If you do take any drinks for your first day don’t bring anything with caffeine in as it is a diuretic (makes you wee) and so you will become dehydrated.
The only other drink worth bringing is hot chocolate. It weighs hardly anything and gives you a sugar and calorie boost and makes you feel better either in the evening before bed or in the morning to wake you up. Get the single serving hot chocolate sachets. Make sure its not Cadbury’s Options or Highlights as these are low-fat and low calorie versions. Yuck.
A list of foods which are not very suitable to take on a DofE Exped.
Personally I don’t recommend bacon as it causes a mess of your cooking pan, you won’t have oil to fry it in so it will stick and you have to use it all in one go or it will go rancid. Some people just ignore all my advice though..
Fresh ones are a no-no as they will go off and you could get nasty food poisoning.
You could take raw eggs in a tupperware dish and then try to fry them but where would you get the oil from?
Fresh stuff will not last, could get squashed and contains no where near enough calories to get you going. Tinned things weigh too much and don’t contain enough calories to make up for this.
Fine for your first day but don’t bring more than you need for day one or it will get bruised and go nasty in your rucksack.
Although they are high in calories they are bulky due to needing to have air added to the package to stop them getting crushed so they take up way too much room in your rucksack. A bag of Walker’s crisps has the same calories per 100g as a chocolate bar but takes up twice as much room at least and contains fewer grams.
Very bulky as the packaging contains lots of space inside for the water. Not very high in calories or indeed much of anything else either…
Here is the kit list Indie Outdoors recommends each individual carries plus group equipment. We have made a few notes about certain items of equipment and stated where they should be carried ideally.
|in hand all the time!
|attached to rucksack/coat in easy reach
|er… on your wrist ‘innit
|bottom of rucksack
|headtorch if you have one- definately a headtorch for gold
|First aid kit
|side pocket of rucksack
|attached to rucksack
|some rucksacks have a whistle as part of the shoulder strap
|top of rucksack
|a small bag or pencil case containing the things noted below as belonging in your emergency kit
|Coins/card for telephone
|in emergency kit
|Notebook and pen/pencil
|in emergency kit
|middle – top of rucksack ready for when it rains
|this is esential even if weather forecast says no rain
|in side pocket of rucksack
|sturdy one as disposable ones may break after repeated use
|Expedition safety card
|in emergency kit
|optional in bronze and silver, found in Entrance Pack
|Extra warm clothing
|bottom of rucksack
|Bivvy bag/large poly bag
|in or near emergency kit
|an emergency sleeping bag made of orange plastic or aluminium
|in middle of rucksack
|remember: this is England. It will rain.
|Emergency food rations
|bottom of rucksack but separate from normal food rations
|in camping kit
|55-65 litr capacity. Should always have both shoulder and waist straps.
|Strong plastic bags
|lining rucksack and wrapped round anything you don’t want to get wet- especially matches and sleeping clothes
|Rubble sacks are the best as they are very strong. Otherwise a gardening or household waste bag
|wrapped in plastic at bottom of rucksack- not tied to outside of rucksack where it will get wet!
|Sleeping bag liner
|wrapped in plastic very firmly and tied to outside of rucksack or placed inside if room
|Small sum of money
|in emergency kit
|remember you must not buy anything unless its an emergency even on practice
|no need for both
|plastic, metal or thermos style
|Soap and towel (small)
|if you are really keen on keeping weight down cut a bar of soap in half or only have one bar per group
|Tooth brush and toothpaste
|no need for more than one tube of toothpaste per group
|couple of rolls per group
|Waterproof. If new- make sure you wear them out for a few walks or even just round the house otherwise brand new boots will give you blisters.
|one per day plus one spare is a good rule
|made of wicking or quick dry material ideally but these can be expensive
|camping kit (tightly wrapped as this is the most important thing that must not get wet!)
|simple, light cotton night clothes
|middle of rucksack
|ideally not cotton or wool as these materials do not dry once wet. A polyester fleece is ideal. No hoodies as if the hood gets wet it soaks through to the rest of your clothes.
|one pair should be enough. Two on gold perhaps. LIghtweight quick dry walking trousers are ideal.
|couple of pairs
|flip flops let you walk about the campsite without either getting grass and dew on your feet in the morning or having to put your walking boots on
|Sun hat, sun cream, sunglasses
|side pockets if sunny, middle of rucksack if not
|if the weather forecaste is very definately saying no chance of sun then don’t bother but normally you should always have sun protection with you
|optional- help keep your boots and trousers dry
|one person carry the poles and one person carry the material
|Provided by Indie Outdoors
|wrap in a plastic bag to prevent leakage of remains of fuel. Provided by Indie Outdoors
|hang from outside of rucksack
|must be DofE approved fuel bottle. Only gold groups are expected to carry their own fuel bottles. Provided by Indie Outdoors
|inside resealable plastic bag
|provided by Indie Outdoors
|Soap pads or sponge with abrasive pad
|camping equipment- inside resealable plastic bag
|a brillo pad is a good trick as it removes stubborn stains on aluminium pans and does not need soap as its already impregnated with it
|Washing up liquid
|camping equipment- inside resealable plastic bag as may leak
|no need if you use brillo pads!
|side pocket of rucksack
|1ltr capacity recommended. Sturdy one will last longer than a disposable plastic one which is only suitable for bronze
|Food for main meals
|see notes on food on Food page
|middle of rucksack, top or side pocket
|gold only. For doing a poo in the wild
|side or top pocket of rucksack or inside coat
|see the Route cards page for help on filling them in
|waterproof maps are a much better investment than a map case and much easier to use
|Pack of cards/game
|forget bringing anything electronic- its batteries will die!
|Plastic bags (for rubbish)
|you must take away and bin all your own rubbish. Don’t expect to find a bin anywhere near where you eat your lunch or dinner
There are three levels of accessibility you need to think about when packing your rucksack. They are : things you need very often or need to be able to access in an emergency, things you might need or need occassionally during the day and things you won’t need until the evening.
The first category must be packed in the top or side pockets of your rucksack, placed in pockets of your coat or held in hand, and includes things like water, maps, compass and first aid kit.
The second category needs to be in the top or middle of the main body of your rucksack and includes things like your waterproofs and your layers of clothing. Think of things you might need if the weather changes for example.
The third category is things you couldn’t possibly need until you camp and therefore have time to unpack your rucksack completely in order to get at. These things can go at the bottom of your rucksack and include your tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment and night clothes.
This is an important consideration for gold expeditions. You are supposed to be wild camping and therefore there should not be a toilet anywhere in sight as you camp.
In order not to spoil the beautiful countryside through which you are travelling it is important to know how to poo properly. Here’s how.
You will need: a trowel, matches and toilet paper.
First: dig a hole in the ground
Second: poo in the hole
Third: cover up the poo with plenty of dirt, soil and leaves. The better covered the less likely it is that an animal will dig it up. Ideally place sticks or stones on top as well.
Fourth: carefully(!) set fire to the toilet paper and burn it completely. This might seem odd but toilet paper does not degrade very quickly and looks terrible if left lying around as it is bright white or pink and so shows up against the natural browns and greens of the countryside. Careful though I have know a DofE group set fire to the dry underbrush when they tried to do this. Make sure there is nothing flammable next to your toilet paper that might catch fire and make sure the paper goes out completely before leaving it.
Filling in route cards can be time consuming until you have had some practice but if you can get into the habit of referring to them at each stage of your journey they can help make sure you do not get lost and speed up your navigation.
Please click here to download a route card
All the information at the top of the card is pretty straightforward. The bit we are going to concentrate on is the section where you fill in the legs of your journey.
First you need to decide how long a leg should be and how many legs your journey should be broken into. Generally you don’t want to break your day into more legs than there are on one sheet when planning a bronze expedition. On Silver or Gold you might need to use more than one sheet per day. You can download a simplified continuation sheet for these extra legs by clicking on the links on the left.
Generally speaking a leg is a section of a journey which follows a certain path or feature or travels between two obvious landmarks or it could be a section of journey which essentially travels in one direction. So if you follow a stream, path or road then make this part just one leg. If you come to a junction and continue on the same path in the same direction do not make a new leg but if you turn off your path and follow a different path, road or stream for example then you need to start a new leg. If you are striking off across open ground and need to make a major directional change at some point then you should start a new leg when you change direction. Don’t make legs too long (no more than 2-3 kilometres)
The idea is: one person is navigating with the map and one holds the route card. When you arrive at the end of a leg, the one holding the route card should be able to glance at it and then at the landscape and say: ‘Yeah I’m pretty sure this is it, we should now go into the woods and follow the path.’ The one with the map can then confirm this. This might seem complicated but is actually quicker and more accurate than just using the map. A good navigator, using the map and the route card together will be less likely to get lost.
You should not need to use a compass when working out your general direction. Just use your judgement and write N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W or NW. If you really want to make an accurate bearing place the edge of your compass along the path you are going to take with the arrow pointing in the direction you are walking then turn the bevel around so that the lines underneath the compass needle are lined up with the N-S lines on your map. Then read off your bearing. This is called map to land orientation and means you are now holding your map the right way around.
Use a piece of string or shoelace and measure it using the edge of your compass which corresponds to the size of map you are using. For example if using a 1:25,000 map (quite likely) measure out 1000m and mark your string with a pen. Then you can measure your leg using the string which will bend easily along the twists and turns of your route. Don’t be too accurate or you will be there forever.
The contour lines on your map are at 10m intervals so just count them up. If you go up and down then up again you need to add all the up together because you need to know how much height you have walked up as this will affect your walking speed.
Time allowed for journeying
Estimate the normal walking speed of your group. A fit person on flattish ground carrying only a small rucksack can walk at 5kmph. Taking into account the size of your rucksack and your fitness you will be travelling at around 2-4kmph. Use this formula to calculate your time for journeying then add 1 minute for every contour line you walk up. It is impossible to work out what your real walking speed will be until you have had a go at it. This is what only your practice expedition can teach you.
Time allowed for exploring, rests, meals etc
Exploring means doing the things you need to do to complete your aim. You should give yourself about three rest periods on top of this- probably two of 20mins and one of 30-40mins. If you are unsure give yourself more rest than you think you need then you might surprise yourself and get in early. Remember unless you have special dispensation you should be travelling for at least 50% of the day (3hrs for bronze, 3.5hrs for silver and 4hrs for gold).
Estimated time of arrival
Don’t fill in this column until you have finished working out all your legs and how long you think they will take. If you change your mind about something you will have to change everything in this column so leave it ’til last.
First pick your spot. There’s no science to this just pick the flattest, driest bit.
Know where your stuff is. The group members who are carrying the tents should also be in charge of putting up the tents and they should know exactly whose bag all the tent bits are in and where in each bag they are. It’s simplest for one person to carry a whole tent and then take some weight off them rather than splitting tents but some groups like to split the weight of the tent between two people. Remove the material, pegs and poles from the tent bag. Place the tent bag inside a pocket or a rucksack immediately or it might blow away or get lost.
Spread the tent material out. Remove the poles from their bag and place the pole bag in the tent bag immediately or you will lose it! Assemble all the poles. Most tents have two long poles the same length and one shorter one. Sometimes the tent will have some colour coding to help you figure out which pole goes where. Pick a pole and insert it all the way. Remember to only ever push poles. Never pull on poles as they will come apart. Do not plug the ends of the pole in yet. Push all the remaining poles through. Once all the poles have been inserted start plugging the ends in and the tent will start to take shape.
Start pegging. With a hoop tent like this peg one end in and then the other pulling the whole tent taught and making sure it is straight at the same time. With a dome tent it is not so critical which pegs go in first so start with the four corners where the poles plug in then peg out the porch pulling it tight and making sure it’s straight.
Push pegs in at a 45° angle with the tip facing in towards the centre of the tent. The opening in the head of the peg should face away from the centre of the tent or the material can slip off the end of the peg.
Next either hang your inner if the poles are inserted through the waterproof outer of your tent or drape and secure your outer if your poles are inserted into the inner. In our video the tent has an inner which is hung from the inside of the outer but we have cleverly not removed the inner last time we took it down. With some tents like this one you can save yourself time by leaving the inner and outer attached to each other at all times. With other tents however this is not possible.
Guy ropes are only necessary in the following situations: your tent requires them to stand up properly, you are expecting rain and wind or you find a baggy bit of your tent which requires pulling out. Otherwise they are just a good way of tripping over in the middle of the night. Finally make sure you place the peg and pole bags in the tent bag if you haven’t already and place that inside the porch of your tent so they don’t blow away.
To remove stubborn pegs stuck in the ground either insert another peg through the head of the peg in the ground and pull out or pull on the material which the peg is inserted through and pull on that. Make sure in both cases you are pulling the peg out at the same angle you pushed it in: hopefully 45° away from the tent.
If you see slack areas of your tent re-peg out your tent to make it more taught or use your guy ropes to increase the tension.