In the October Half Term holiday, pupils and staff from Oundle School undertook a tour of Bulgaria with a focus on cultural and physical geography and geology, heading off the beaten track and exploring the local sites.

Places like Iceland and Morocco remain spectacular, but are now well known and trips there have lost that sense of ‘exploration.’ The trip to Bulgaria allowed pupils to direct the itinerary of the trip a little more and provided them with the skills to engage with exploration too.

The trip took in a walk along the Serbian border in the Balkan mountains, visits to local towns, cities and monasteries and a whole host of Karst (limestone) features and geological landforms, which either do not exist in the UK or are not found on any similar spatial scale. The most impressive were the Devetashka Caves, Krushuna Waterfalls and Belogradchik Rocks.

The trip was self-driven rather than tour-operated, meaning the group had the opportunity to stop and explore places along the way, including shopping in local markets and supporting the rural economy. Travelling along rural roads and gaining a sense of place by journeying via mountain hamlets and villages helped build up a background to Bulgaria, and provided the experience and confidence for pupils to plan their own trips off the beaten track in the coming years.