L6 Gold training expedition to South Wales: July 4-7. South Wales western Brecons. 5 groups practiced navigation techniques and backpacked across the Brecon ridge to return to Dan Yr Ogof. Weather was cool and a thunderstorm kept groups lower down and off the ridge on July 5. After issues with kit (some bringing insufficient cold weather gear after a hot spell in the SE), groups coped well with the varying conditions. Groups need to thoroughly prepare for their qualifying venture in August ensuring all their kit is properly organised and they are ready for the challenge. Check training pages on this blog.
4th Years completed their 3 day Silver training expedition 28-30 June. Conditions warmed up through the 3 days as 14 groups trekked across the North Downs and thence across the Surrey Hills. Groups improved their navigation and camp craft and staff were pleased with their positive approach throughout. Well done!
125 students and their Gold Award Leaders trekked off on their Bronze practice hike May3-4. The two day expedition covered 15 miles over the local North Downs area around Reigate and included 5 different camp locations. The weather started wet and then improved to excellent walking conditions: cool and breezy. Groups performed well and supervising staff were pleased with their navigation ability. A few groups went wrong but they corrected themselves effectively. Camp craft was also pleasing with groups cooking some interesting meals, keeping a tidy camp and “leaving no trace” on departure. As this was their first Bronze expedition it bodes very well for their October qualifying expeditions.
25 Bronze dofe Third Year students started their conservation volunteering programme today on Reigate Heath local nature reserve. They spent the day working hard clearing invading trees like scots pine, with the aim of restoring the threatened lowland acid heathland habitat which has become rare because of development like roads, housing, recreation and golf courses. This group of students were outstanding in the way they engaged enthusiastically with all the activities: they listened to instructions, worked well together and improved an enormous area. They did the tradition of RGS dofe conservation proud on their very first day of conservation activities … well done!
This lowland acid heath habitat used to cover larger parts of the South East on sandstone areas like Reigate Heath. When grazing stopped trees and scrub invaded and destroyed the heathland. Restoring heathland will improve the habitat and chances for animals like adders, grass snakes, slow worms, lizards and birds like sparrow hawks, crossbills and stonechat to thrive in our otherwise overcrowded part of the country. Reigate Heath is a SSSI – site of special scientific interest, so it is protected from development but the animals and plants still need our help.
The students worked very hard all day raking out the thick nutrient rich soil which smothers heather seeds and stops their growth. Heather likes the nutrient poor sandy soils beneath, so our students raked off the overlying “alien soil” to expose the sandy grey soils.
The students also felled selected trees including some Scots Pine and some Oak and Silver Birch. These pre-selected trees opened up significant glades and will encourage the growth of heath seedlings which have lain dormant for a hundred years.
RGS students have worked on the Heath and elsewhere for nearly 10 years and so they can truly say they have improved local habitats for the benefit of local people and wild plants and animals. We like to say RGS students “Save The World starting in their own backyard”… and they certainly helped save a little tiny bit of Surrey today!
More details here:
Many thanks, as always, to Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers who run the day.
contact Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers (RACV) here http://www.racv.org.uk/
December 15 2014: Bronze dofe conservation on Redhill Common: clearing invading non-native trees and opening up clearings pathside to improve light for a greater biodiversity of species and improved habitat. The group worked hard and achieved significant improvements in the natural habitat of Redhill Common. RGS has been improving local habitats for more than 7 years now under the expert guidance of Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers. If you would like to help with active local habitat conservation then visit RACV at http://www.racv.org.uk/
Reigate Grammar saves the world… starting in our back yard!
Lewes Station to Amberley Station via great routes over the stunning South Downs… 60 RGS students undertook their Silver qualifying expedition. Breezy conditions but mostly dry and mild. They were an especially good bunch of students who were all spirited and very cheerful throughout. Staff were pleased with their performance, well done all.