Friends of the Award

Supporting Young People to Achieve

Our Open Walking Expeditions are open to all young people in Edinburgh and surrounding areas.

Participant Focused

We pride ourselves on helping individual participants form effective teams which support each other, and supporting each team to plan and achieve their own unique, self-sufficient expedition that truly belongs to them.

Open to All

Our Open Expeditions are for DofE participants who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to complete expeditions, and those who’ve missed out for any reason. We can accommodate most additional support needs.


With help to our network of highly trained and qualified Expedition Volunteers, and grants and donations from a wide range of organisations and individuals, we try to make our expeditions affordable to all.


Bronze Training & Practice

At FOTA we now offer a 4-day training programme including a “mini expedition” with one night camping on a quiet site in the Pentland Hills.

If you have completed a classroom-based training programme with your DofE Centre then you can just book the second half of a training programme to do a mini expedition, and then you’ll be ready for a Qualifying expedition.

Bronze Qualifying Expedition

We pre-book a campsite, usually in a quiet part of Midlothian. Teams choose their own route (with our support). We provide transport and equipment. All planning meetings are compulsory.

We require all participants to have completed a full Bronze DofE Expedition Training programme, including one night camping.

We invite each team to give a presentation about their expedition experiences.


Silver Expedition Training

2 days with a mixture of classroom and outdoor sessions, covering all the skills you need for Silver expeditions in unfamiliar or remote countryside – it doesn’t matter whether you’ve done Bronze expeditions or not. We cover campcraft, outdoor access, navigation, food, equipment and first aid.

Silver Practice Expedition

Our Silver Practice expeditions normally take place in the Scottish Borders. Teams will have to choose their own route (with our support). Teams can choose between campsites and wild camping. We provide transport.

Silver Qualifying Expedition

Teams choose a destination area, normally either Tayside, The Trossachs or the Southern Borders, then they choose their route and campsites. Teams can choose between campsites and wild camping. We provide transport. All planning meetings are compulsory. Teams must deliver a presentation after the expedition.


Gold Direct Entry Training

In 2020, we’re offering a full direct-entry training programme of Gold Walking expeditions. Participants who have not completed Silver expeditions within the last three years will need to start with these three days of basic expedition training and then you can go on our 5-day Gold Training & Practice expedition.

Day 1: 20 Conditions, Equipment, Campcraft, Outdoor Access

Day 2-3: A 2-day trip with two led day walks where you’ll progress through basic and intermediate navigation skills, while learning about outdoor first aid, with one night camping on a semi-wild campsite. You won’t need to carry your camping kit all day!

Gold Training & Practice

This 5-day programme includes 2 days of training in Gold-level expedition skills, in a wild country area, followed by a 3-day Practice expedition.

The two training days will include led day walks, where participants will learn the navigation and risk assessment skills needed for expeditions in wild country, building on their existing knowledge and experience from Silver or from our 3-day Direct Entry programme. The first two nights will be based at a serviced campsite, in the evenings you’ll plan your Practice Expedition routes.

Days 3-5 will be the Practice Expedition, walking with a rucksack each day and wild camping both nights.

Transport from/to Edinburgh and campsite fees are included, but participants will need to provide their own food.

Gold Qualifying Expedition

Teams choose a destination area, normally in the North or West Highlands, then they choose their route and campsites. Gold expeditions always include some wild camping. We provide transport. The first day of the trip is an Acclimatisation Day which will include travelling to the expedition area, a brief refresher training session, meeting the Assessor and a night on a serviced campsite. The expedition itself takes place on days 2-5.

All planning meetings are compulsory. Teams must deliver a presentation after the expedition.

We would prefer participants to complete our Training & Practice Expedition, but you can still apply if you have recently completed a Practice Expedition with another Centre/Provider.

expedition dates

Please sign up to our waiting list and we’ll contact you when we set our next dates, or when we hear about spaces on other groups’ expeditions.

Sign up to our Waiting List


How to book

Download booking form (PDF)

Please print and complete the booking and consent form, and post it to us along with a £20.00 non refundable deposit (cheques payable to Friends of the Award), to:

Open Expeditions,
Friends of the Award,
The Risk Factory,
20 New Mart Road,
EH14 1RL

Alternatively you can scan and return the application by email to, and send the deposit by bank transfer.

We will acknowledge receipt of your booking by email. You’ll receive a booking confirmation and further information by email when we have enough bookings for the expedition to go ahead, or at the latest a few days after the closing date.

How Open Expeditions work

All meetings and training sessions, and our Kit Store, are at The Risk Factory, 20 New Mart Road, Edinburgh EH14 1RL. We also meet here at the start and end of each expedition.

All of our communication is done by email – including any last minute changes of plan. You will need to check your email regularly.


If you can’t afford these amounts, we may be able to help, please get in touch.

Our expeditions cost much more than the amounts we charge: we keep our prices down with the help of our network of volunteers and thanks to a variety of organisations and individuals who help fund our work. We welcome donations which help us keep our expeditions and other DofE opportunities affordable for other young people, into the future.

* Equipment Deposit (Silver & Gold only): Silver and Gold participants are required to make an additional refundable deposit of £25 along with the full cost of their expeditions. We will keep this deposit until all borrowed equipment has been returned after their last expedition. Teams will share the responsibility for shared items. If all borrowed equipment has been returned clean, dry and on time then we will offer to refund your equipment deposit within 30 days:


We can lend you all the specialist equipment you need to do your expeditions – everything from boots and socks to tents and first aid kits – and it’s all included at no extra cost. The main thing you need to supply yourself is your food, we encourage you to share meals with your teammates.
Download Kit List & Food Planner
Bronze participants collect and pack their kit from our stores just before starting the expedition, and return it all at the end. Silver and Gold participants borrow kit at a specific Kit Collection time a few days before the expedition, taking it home to pack; then after the expedition you’ll take everything home to dry and return your borrowed kit at the Kit Return time a few days later.

What’s included?

The cost of expeditions includes transport to/from Edinburgh, use of equipment, supervision by qualified Supervisors, assessment by an Accredited Assessor and camping fees. Food is not included. Your expedition training will teach you what types of food to take, and how much.


We endeavour to make our Open Expeditions accessible to those with additional support needs, or financial difficulties, wherever possible. Please contact us with your concerns before you book. You can email us on or phone (0131) 467 4753


“[The leaders were] very helpful and encouraging. They helped us and gave us guidance when we needed to do some emergency route changing.”
Silver Participant
Open Silver Qualifying Expedition, 2018
“[I learnt] that I had the skills to sustain myself for 3 days and build better friendships with the people in my group.”
Open Silver Expeditions, 2018
“I am very proud of myself and believe that without the help and support of the whole team l would have not completed the expedition.”
Bronze Participant
Open Bronze Expeditions 2018

Thanks to our funders

We are very grateful for financial help towards our expedition support work from a wide range of organisations including: