It's off to the palace for Ely cadet sergeant Joe Harris as he completes his gold Duke of Edinburgh award in the Lake District
PUBLISHED: 15:57 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:57 20 August 2018
An air cadet from Ely spent the week trekking through the Lake District on horseback 'going for gold' as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Sergeant Joe Harris completed his expedition section of the award through the picturesque Windermere and Coniston lakes area.
In the coming weeks, Joe and his family will be invited to Buckingham Palace to an audience with the Duke to receive his gold award in person.
Joe said: “It was a very challenging week but I was well prepared having completed my practice horseback expedition in similar wild countryside.
“I’ve been studying formal qualifications in equine care at college and of course having regular horse riding lessons but it was the skills I learned as an air cadet that really helped not just me getting though this expedition but also the rest of my group who were all from school DofE groups from around the UK.
“Typically my days consisted of getting up about 6am riding around 25km a day, in all weathers and terrain including mountains and heavy thunder storms.
“Not only do you have to navigate, map read and take compass bearings in all weathers on the back of a horse, but of course you have to remain stable and control the horse while at the same time ensure their footing is sound - as one wrong move on a mountainside track could be extremely serious.
“As well as camping over four nights and feeding ourselves we also had to feed and water and take care of our horses.
“I cannot thank my horse Jigsaw enough. I made some amazing new friends for life and I had the experience of a lifetime spending time with such great people and such majestic animals in some of the most beautiful countryside our nation has to offer.”
The Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme has been running for more than 62 years in the UK and has seen thousands of young people aged 14-25 achieve bronze, silver or gold awards.
Gold is a more personal journey of self development and requires true grit and determination and taking the bit firmly between your teeth.