Adventure on the Ardeche for students

A group photo of the students.
A group photo of the students.

Students from Douglas Ewart High recently enjoyed a school trip to Ardeche in the South of France.

Forty-two S2 pupils went on the adventure holiday for eight days and the pupils have written up an article about their experiences.

The Ardeche Descent.

The Ardeche Descent.

Day 1 – After 26 hours of travelling we finally reached Lou Valagran. The bus journey was long but fortunately we had lots of quizzes and games to keep us occupied and we also did lots of singing along to High School Musical which our teachers loved! We got put into our chalets and then had our first activity which was a jog and dip. We ran down to the river and then had to all run into the water to play games which was freezing! At night our group leader Lucy organised a game of ‘Who Am I?’. We had to dress up and act out TV shows such as Family Guy or Despicable Me. The highlight was Callum as Stephen Mulhern getting Mr Paterson to play a game of in for a penny in for a pound, which he won!

Day 2 – Our first day of activities involved raft building, kayaking, mountain biking and high ropes. But not before we stuffed ourselves at the delicious breakfast! The raft building was great fun with Mia being the muscles of her group and tightening all the knots. All the rafts made it down the river but the same couldn’t be said for us. Hanna fell into the river after about 2 minutes! The mountain biking was great, apart from the hills which were huge, we felt like we were cycling up Mount Everest! Everyone was really brave at the high ropes as it was really high and Kuba, Arianne and Lizzie did really well to conquer their fear of heights. In the evening we went to a local town to do a quiz about it, and obviously we sampled the local ice cream! At night we did karaoke where Callum shocked everyone with his amazing singing voice!

Day 3 – Today we did Jacobs ladder, archery and trekking, Jacobs ladder was really hard but lots of us got to the top including Gavin and Craig who got up in record time. Archery was amazing and we made dodgy pizzas! The trek took us round the local countryside and to an amazing waterfall area called Cascades. We loved seeing the local area and lots of us want to come back and visit this part of France in the future. At night we got ourselves ready for the river descent the next day. We packed up our waterproof barrels, although then some of us brought them inside “in case it rains”!

Day 4 – Our first day of descent was really exciting, we travelled down the river in canoes in pairs tackling lots of rapids. Very few of us capsized but Mr Paterson and Miss Halliday did which was hilarious! At our lunch stop we got the option of doing a rock jump, Chloe did really well to get over her fears and jump in as it was pretty high. We were all managing the canoeing well and working hard, some of us (Emma, Ella, Gemma and Milly) thought it was too easy and decided to go down backwards and sideways! We had managed so well with only a few people capsizing all day but it totally fell apart at the last rapid! Onlookers would have witnessed Connie and Rachel sunning themselves on a rock with no canoe, Stephen and Hamish marooned on a rock unable to move despite their best efforts, Arianne floating down the river after being capsized and an injured Nicole being capsized along with Hanna and their instructor and Jake running to the rescue to save them! Thankfully eventually everyone made it safe and well to the bivvy site where we all slept on a sheet under the stars. Well we tried to sleep but there were lots of people snoring very loudly so we didn’t get much sleep!

Some of the students who took part in the Ardeche descent.

Some of the students who took part in the Ardeche descent.

Day 5 – Although we were really tired this morning we were excited for another day of canoeing. This excitement didn’t last long for Alfie and Keir who were capsized at the first rapid by the teachers boat! At our lunch stop we played a game of Tekken where we had to try and push each other off an upturned canoe. Caitlin took out most of the boys and was the final winner! We also developed a new found love for Biscoff and some of the boys wrestled Naithan for the final packet. The last stretch of the descent was a tough one as we were paddling against the wind but our instructors kept us going with games and chants, especially Papa Ally who was our favourite! Once we got back to the camp we were exhausted but proud that we had canoed so far (36km!) so we spent the night relaxing. At night we got to try snails, everyone had mixed feelings about them but most people thought they were actually really tasty!

Day 6 – Today was our excursion day to the beach and Aigues Mort. The beach was great fun; we all buried Craig and Kuba in the sand and played beach rugby. We then went to Aigues Mort which is a walled town with amazing ice cream which pleased ice cream fanatic Chris! We spent a couple of hours wandering round the shops and the boys even got themselves a fish pedicure, Thomas couldn’t wait to show everyone his smooth feet! This was our chance to practice using the French we have been learning in school and we spoke as much as we could to the locals. On the way home there were more singalongs to Ed Sheeran and Hit the Diff.

Day 7 – Our final day of activities involved raft building, kayaking, mountain biking and high ropes. In our boats we played games and tipped our teachers into the freezing water to get them back for waking us up with an air horn all week! The high ropes were great and we were all a lot more confident with heights now than at the start of the week, even if some of the boys still struggled with the harnesses! Peter got right to the top of the leap of faith and Emma went straight up first with no fear at all. In the raft building we improved our listening and team work skills and then sailed down the river singing songs and telling jokes. Unfortunately we had to leave Lou Valagran and said a sad goodbye to all the staff, but we got lots of pictures and selfies with them, and did our final dance of the week. The staff waved us off and we began our journey back to school. We were all really tired so we slept most of the way, which our teachers loved!

We got given a certificate for completing the week with an award such as “wettest canoe award” or “best tan”. Jak won the “wally of the week” award for his ridiculous comments such as asking if a Mikado stick was an avocado. Jasmine won the warrior of the week award for doing so well at overcoming her fears. We all had an amazing week and came back more confident in ourselves and our abilities to try new things.

On the high ropes.

On the high ropes.

We would recommend this trip to everyone in the future as it is an amazing opportunity to try lots of activities that you would never try elsewhere.