Four boys from Barnard Castle School took on some high-level voluntary work to help clear tourist trash from an African mountain before completing a four-day trek in Morocco. Dan Roberts, Max Dalton, Jackson Smith and James Gorton, together with Dan Warner from Harrogate Grammar School – took part in the 12-day expedition with teacher Phil Oakley.
They started in the High Atlas Mountains under the shadow of Jebel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa at 4,167m, helping to clear rubbish from the Toubkal tourist path near the village of Armed.
Dan said: “Most of the rubbish had been blown from the path into the rocks on the side of the mountain. We soon found ourselves scuttling around like mountain goats filling numerous bags for removal. Several trekking tourists thanked us for what we were doing with some even helping pick-up rubbish.”
On the second day they did a litter pick around the village.
“The people of the village organise litter picks once a month but many still thanked us and local children joined in as well,” added Dan.
After three days in the village where they played football on a pitch cut out of the mountainside, the group, together with Lloyd Murray from Outdoor Ambition, set off on a trek.
They had planned to walk in the Anti Atlas Mountains on the edge of the Sahara desert but were warned against it due to a lack of water following a two-year drought, so instead headed for the 3,305m isolated volcanic peak of Jebel Siroua (or Sirwa) on the northern edge of the Anti Atlas.
Max said: “Ironically, we arrived in this arid region in storms and torrential rain. Our original starting point could not be reached by vehicle due to flooded roads so we had to do our route in reverse, beginning from a remote village surrounded by almond groves and fields of saffron.”
After a night camping in a goat pen, they climbed the last 1,000m towards the summit with time to admire dramatic gorges, volcanic plugs, basalt columns, rocks and ridges before the descent and completing their 80km trek.