Gearing up for your DofE Gold expedition can be a daunting task. This guide was put together to help you! We draw on the experience of those who have passed. Find out what tips and ideas they have to help you prepare for your own Duke of Edinburgh Gold expedition.

Other blogs you may find useful:

Make sure you also out my video of 17 DofE hacks to help you pass and make the most of your award. There are several tips that will help you smash your Gold DofE expedition first time:

DofE Gold expedition rules

When planning your expedition, make sure you keep the guidelines for dofe gold expedition in mind:

  • Must be a 4-day, 3-night expedition or other
    adventurous project
  • There must be at least 8 hours each
    day planned activity in wild or open country or on
    appropriate water
  • If on foot, an average Team might aim to achieve a total of
    between 80 – 96 km/ 50 – 60 miles.
    The planned activity must include journeying and exploring and not involve any overnight accommodation or catering
  • At least one practice journey must be undertaken before the final expedition
Dofe Gold Expedition

DofE Expedition Ideas

I asked the contributors below to suggest a few ideas for what you could do for your Duke of Edinburgh Gold Expedition.

Here’s what they suggested…

  • A walking expedition is always the easiest logistically. But if you want to do something different go for it! 
  • Kayak down a section of a river looking at bridges or collecting litter
  • Travel by horse!
  • Plan a hike in one of the DofE recommended areas of the country such as Grampian and Cairgorm in rugged Scotland, Snowdonia in Wales, or even the Isle of Man
  • For a more unusual mode of transport you could try a cycling expedition or travel on a tandem canoe or use all-terrain wheelchairs
  • Remember it doesn’t have to be within the UK….I’ve known of a group who used camels for their expedition in Morocco and another who used donkeys
  • It’s the aim that makes the expedition interesting – have a great, fun, involving aim and you’ll have a great expedition whatever mode of transport or location you decide to use!

For more ideas, read the accounts below to see what everyone decided to do for their own DofE Gold Expedition.

A guide to wild camping in the Lake District

Megan Endean’s experience

What did you do for your Gold DofE expedition? 

I did a 4-day expedition on foot across Dartmoor with a group of friends from my college. Our aim was to seek out different types of crosses and we planned our route around this, but in the end, it became more about survival as the weather wasn’t being very kind to us! 

How was this expedition different from Silver and Bronze?

There was a much greater degree of self-reliance, which made it more challenging but also more exciting!

The longer duration meant that things, like eating proper meals and keeping good care of your kit, was even more important as being hungry and with no dry kit can really dampen morale.

What are your top tips?

Before heading off, make sure you’ve done some practice walks with your group, and also make sure that everyone knows how to use their kit. While it’s fine to have areas you prefer (such as navigation or setting up camp and cooking), make sure that everyone can do everything, because you never know what might happen on expedition!

Half of our group were evacuated off during my expedition, meaning that we had to merge with another group. If the people who had been evacuated were the only ones who could confidently read a map, we would have likely got very lost!

List 3 essential bits of kit:

  • Leatherman Micra pocket knife – infinite applications
  • own sleeping bag – I get very cold at night so apprecaited the warmth
  • Dry bags

Melissa Tupholme’s experience

You can find Melissa on Instagram!

What did you do for your Gold DofE expedition? 

For my gold qualifying expedition my team of 3 girls, 2 boys and I spent four days carrying one of those infamous rucksacks across the beautiful scenery of the Lake District.

How was this expedition different from Silver and Bronze?

In my opinion the main difference compared to Bronze and Silver was the energy and atmosphere of my expedition.

As someone who really enjoyed doing DofE getting to Gold was such an achievement and to then be able to complete it with a group of like-minded and entertaining individuals made the struggles fade away and the memories even more precious. Also the freedom to be more independent allowed us to decide how and when we wanted to do things as a group but also made it a personal journey.

What are your top tips?

If I was to do it again I would worry less. Spend less time complaining and instead, as cringy as it sounds, enjoy the little things.

For instance, there was a day of my expedition where we walked open access land in hammering snow, barely able to see in front of us, and snow up to our knees. Of course I remember us all complaining about the cold and worrying about being lost but what really sticks was finding so much enjoyment in realising we were the first people on that day to put their footprints in that snow.  

List 3 essential bits of kit:

  • Ibuprofen gel
  • Fluffy socks (a necessity)
  • Favourite snack, even if it seems crazy to take, because it will get you through the hard moments
Dofe food ideas

Joanne Parker’s experience

You can find Joanne on her website and on Twitter!

What did you do for your Gold DofE expedition?

I attended an Open Gold Expedition in Dartmoor with Chase Solutions many years ago with six other women. This was the only option for me to complete the expedition section as I didn’t have a DofE group so was doing the Gold award on my own.

We did a walking expedition and I only met my other team mates the day before we were due to walk the expedition!

How was this expedition different from Silver and Bronze?

You were very much on your own, I don’t think I saw our supervisors or assessor at all really, so every decision was decided as a team.

It had its positives and negatives; you certainly had to trust in yourselves and your skills and realise that an adult won’t always be there to change the situation for you, you had to problem solve it yourself. I really enjoyed how the challenge was more adventurous and remote! 

What are your top tips?

Due to my lack of knowledge and failure to seek support, I thought a cheap Halfords Tent was suitable for Dartmoor, it wasn’t and was flat very quickly; so researching and spending a bit more on kit is always worthwhile for an enjoyable expedition.

I would have also questioned a teammate more when they said they were “fine”, but walking awkwardly. Turns out they’d walked for four days in wet socks, didn’t want to tell anyone and had the start of “trench foot”; be more firm, more communicative and checking up on one another often – it’s their expedition as well as yours!

List 3 essential bits of kit:

  • A sense of humour and understanding
  • socks, socks and more socks – dry feet are essential
  • A good warm lightweight down jacket to put on of an evening and flip flops to rest tired feet! 

Joanne Gough’s experience

What did you do for your Gold DofE expedition?

My practice expedition was four days in Cumbria. My qualifying expedition was in Germany and Austria. Both were four days and both were on foot. 

How was this expedition different from Silver and Bronze?

It was a major step up due to the weather conditions. My gold exped was in the summer months but we had the worst rain they had, had in many hundreds of years. Constant rain until the last day towards the end of the expedition.

The route was a major step up from my silver and bronze. It was longer in time, harder and we were walking a lot further. 

What are your top tips?

I would have used my walking poles at silver to get used to them.

I would not have paid so much for the expedition and found a local one.

My top tip would be to make sure your fitness is as good as it can be before walking a 4 day expedition

List 3 essential bits of kit:

  • Warm fleece for the Pm at the campsite
  • A Waterproof that withstands a large amount of rain
  • Decent quality food to keep you going and to look forward to
wild camping snowdonia

Nicola’s experience

What did you do for your Gold DofE expedition?

My practice expedition was with a university group in the North Yorkshire Moors and my qualifying expedition was with an open group (I knew nobody before I went on it) in the Yorkshire Dales. Both were walking. 

How was this expedition different from Silver and Bronze?

I did not do bronze or silver expedition as was a direct entrant to Gold level.

If you did it again what would you have done differently and what are your top tips for someone preparing for their Gold DofE expedition?

I would not have done anything differently on my actual expedition. I did mine with a group I did not know and it was amazing and I am still in contact with a couple of them still.

My top tip is put in as much practice as possible – navigation, carrying kit, being on the hill. 

List 3 essential bits of kit:

  • Comfortable rucksack
  • The lightest kit possible for the price you can afford 
  • The least amount possible. Can you share kit? Do you really need it? the less you carry the better

Thank you Nicola, Joanne G, Joanne P, Melissa & Megan for sharing your DofE insights! If you are reading this and planning your own expedition then GOOD LUCK! Why not use the comments box below to share your own expedition intentions… might inspire someone else who is looking for ideas!

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*Any women reading this?* I founded a women’s adventure community called Love Her Wild . Check out our private Facebook page and see what adventures we have coming up.

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