Accompanied by Terrington outdoor education staff, the pupils set up camp for the week at Upaix in the Hautes Alpes. Their first adventure was to investigate the plunge pools of the Meouge Gorge where they jumped from rock ledges into crystal-clear waters.
Next, they embarked on a day’s abseiling and rock-climbing on graded climbs at Sisteron.
During the two-day alpine ascent of the Valgaudemar Valley with an overnight mountain refuge stop a 2200m above sea level, the children spotted marmots and chamois and were afforded stunning views of the glacier at the head of the valley.
This was followed by hydrospeeding down a turbulent 11k stretch of the Durance river, and scaling the Via Ferrata at la Motte de Caire.
The Via Ferrata was set up by the French Resistance during the Second World War to evade the Occupying forces. It involves a dramatic climb along precipitous – sometimes overhanging – rock faces, using giant steel cables and a network of steel rungs hammered into the mountainside for foot and handholds.
One section of the route, Le Pont de Nepalese, includes a 30m rope bridge suspended above a 400ft gorge, and another, La Passerelle, a 20m tightrope bridge. Both these stretches were negotiated by the 13-year-old Terrington Hall pupils.
Terrington outdoor education leader Liz Cole said: ‘The children relished the challenges, pushed themselves and achieved far more than some of them ever dreamed of. It has been far more than a week of outdoor activities but a week of real personal development.’
The Alps expedition is the culmination of the school’s in-house outdoor education programme which begins in Year 3 in the school pool and on the climbing wall. Throughout Years 5-7 the children work towards earning their British Canoe Union star awards on local rivers, and then put their skills to the test during the Year 7 expedition to the south of France where they make a two-day kayak descent of the Ardeche river and test out their climbing skills on the cliff-face at Balazuc.