Their story, in their words….
Mark Evison was an extremely fulfilling opportunity for us. Something which we can both agree on as being the main outcome was our improved sense of independence and how we felt as if being alone in the countryside made us more aware and sensible. We were both not as independent as we would have liked previously, yet we had to find ways to work together without technology to accomplish our aim. We found this challenging on the first day as we were not used to being with so few people on an expedition like this (usually on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition there are at least 4 people), however as the day progressed we became much more confident. Our first day was easier in terms of terrain as there were many roads and flat fields as there had been minimal rain and we wanted to save our energy for the next full days. As this was our travel day we purposely chose shorter routes which we were glad we did as it took a while to gather our bearings during the first day and we arrived slightly later than we had predicted. However the next day was much more successful as the weather was lighter (it rained for about an hour quite lightly) and we barely got lost at all. We encountered a problem as we had run out of water however as we had planned we knew we would go through a town so we went to a pub where we filled up our bottles for free. This route was much more challenging with many fields and bogs. The fields were tricky to navigate and we took a few wrong turns as the map did not clearly show which paths to take as there were about 4 different paths leading off from a centre point so it took a few times to get that right. However although this day was more difficult in terms of terrain, the improved weather made it much more enjoyable than the first day. The third day was the most challenging as the weather was terrible. We experienced heavy downpour but we were equipped with waterproofs so by the end of the day we managed to stay relatively dry. We had plenty of water which lasted us the whole day so there was no need to fill up in the town and we had planned our food so we had enough to sustain us for this longer and more tiring day. Our final day was less stressful and much more relaxing and we only had one navigation problem which was we misread the map. There were 2 different paths but we read it as one so we ended up going through a field of stinging nettles up to our necks and when we reached the end we realised there was another path parallel to this that we could have taken. This was the only downside of the day but the rest of the time we were in high spirits.
Overall this experience was really exciting. It was challenging but was progressively so on the days where the weather was terrible. We were lucky that it did not rain the entire time and the last day was actually very sunny. We are now both much more confident with reading a map and when Marianna did her Duke of Edinburgh award in the summer she felt much more confident in navigation and could see real improvement from last time she did an expedition. If we were to do it again we would go in the summer when there would be less rain and perhaps go for longer in order to further challenge ourselves. We both enjoyed the expedition immensely and felt we had challenged ourselves mentally and physically.