Sixty teenagers hiked eight miles over Kinder Scout with HRH the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward.
“It was nice to be able to talk to the prince,” said student Rachel Epstein.
“The journey went so quickly with all the chatting.”
The teenagers, from schools around the north of England and the midlands, were walking the mountainous route from Edale to Hayfield as their contribution to the DofE’s new Diamond Challenge initiative.
The project encourages people of all ages to celebrate the award’s 60th year by taking on a DofE inspired challenge.
Money raised will support the scheme’s work with over 300,000 people aged 14 to 24 every year, and help offer more free DofE places and bursary grants to those most in need.
“Kinder Scout is an important part of the country from our point of view,” said Peter Westgarth, CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
“For many young people taking their bronze or silver award, this is their first experience of proper wild country, but it’s also situated close to many populated areas so it’s really easy to get to.”
The Kinder plateau and its moors are a National Trust site, and the organisation’s project officer for Kinder, Tom Harman, joined the young people and the Earl of Wessex on the walk.
He explained the conservation work his team have been carrying out over the last three years to preserve the landscape and prevent peat erosion, caused largely by years of over-grazing, along with the effects of historic acid rain from the industries of Lancashire.
“On Kinder Low I showed the Earl of Wessex how the land now has grass coming through, whereas three years ago it would have just been bare black peat.
“He understood that to look after the moors around Kinder we have to make changes, such as keeping sheep away to allow heather and grasses to regrow.”
“It’s quite shocking to see the effects of overgrazing in the past,” said teenager Adam Wright, who lives on a farm in Leicestershire.
“I think farmers are now understanding the importance of conservation.”
Also taking part in the Diamond Challenge were staff from Moors for the Future, the British Mountaineering Council, Kinder Mountain Rescue and the Peak District National Park Authority.
“We’re mustard keen to get kids interested in conservation and to help preserve all we’ve seen today,” said Peter Westgarth after welcoming the Earl of Wessex back to Bowden Bridge Quarry in Hayfield.
The site marked the start of the 1932 mass trespass by ramblers campaigning for access to the Kinder moors.
“I know we’ve all enjoyed the walk today and realise now precious this landscape is,” he added.
Teenager Lucy Yates recovered with her friends after her first ever expedition to Kinder.
“The scenery was amazing,” she said.
“And there was so much of it.”