With this years summer cap plans to return to Gravelines not be possible, Kevin and Sean quickly arranged an alternative expedition camp to the south coast at Kingsdown Camp Site near Deal via public transport.
Friday 26th July: With rain clouds approaching Dartford, we meet at the train station at 10am checking people in with their run-sacs and bags. Boarding the half past train heading to Walmer away from the rain, arriving two hours later, where we shouldered our bags and headed to the coast path via Walmer castle. It was not long before bags were adjusted and trades made helping each other out as we hiked the 4 miles to the camp site.
With grand views of the white cliffs, the english channel and the cost of France in the distance, we pitched our tents and settled in on our site and then set off to explore the local beach which was a short walk from the back gate. The pebble beach with its groins along with the sunshine and gentle waves washed away the tiredness of travelling and the source of great entertainment for the next few hours. On returning to camp the cooking skills of the scouts were put to the test to conjure up the old scouting favourite of sausage, mash and beans, unfortunately some of the pans will never be the same again!
Saturday 27th July: With the classic WWII Spitefire flying overhead, with it’d distinctive engine roar overhead we set of on our expedition to Dover Castle via the cliffs costal path, each scout took their turn navigating, practicing and improving their map and compass work as well as mountain emergency shelter training. Along with some very impressive houses dotted along the coast there were great views along with chalk down flora and fauna made the miles slip by until we approached Dover NT white cliff centre with many tourist braving the ascent for their holiday photos.
With the weather worsening and the rain getting heavier we quickly descended in to Dover town centre, finding refuge in Burger King with everyone enjoying a restaurant lunch.
With it still raining we climbed the hill to the castle, looking for shelter from the rain we visited the cafe and both tunnels tours featuring the hospital and war rooms and then the main tower where the basement kitchen looked like luxury as compared to the thought of wet camp site. After we visited everything inside we could and closing time looming we headed back via the train. On arrival back at camp we were greeted with fish and chips delivered by Maggie, with the drawing in of the evening the clouds disperesed and the camp fire lit where the scouts huddled to watch cave man TV and tell their stories and take on the day.
Sunday 28th July: A route march at pace to Walmer station was required to ensure we got the 10’ train was needed for the short ride to Margate, where we visited Dreamland which had all the fun of the fair and more for the all-day inclusive tickets. With the skies being overcast but dry it was quieter than usual, hence no need for queuing and the options for the scouts to have multiple goes on everything, to the stage that a few went quite white and needing a lay down!
With the decision made to make tracks at 3’ to get back and enjoy the beach fraughted with a few caught on the broken roller coaster and the hourly train service, the revised 4’ meet was jeopardise with three on the big wheel having to en
joy two circuits without it stopping, resulting in a run for the returning train.
A leisurely walk back from Warmer station via the beach path, stopping to enjoy the scenery from The Zetland Arms with games on the beach enjoying the surf. With the sun starting to approach the horizon we retreated to camp and lit the BBQs, with supper finish a camp fire was lit for all to enjoy, reflecting on the night sky and the events of the day.
Monday 29th July: With a leisurely start and a casual break of camp, packing all our camp kit away and preparing our bags for our saunter back. A vote of whether to walk the short way back to the station, or take the longer route via the coast path was unanimous to take the scenic route and to leave earlier to ensure that we would be early for the train. With a reassuring uneventful journey back to Dartford meeting with parents at 3pm, this years expedition camp came to an end, but one that most would willing to undertake again.
Many thanks to Kevin, Sean and Del for all their time and endeavours organising and running the camp, making it a really enjoyable camp.
Yours in Scouting
Group Scout Leader – 5th Dartford