A guide to the Duke of Edinburgh Award- Gold

The Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) is a prestigious youth development program that originated in the United Kingdom. It was founded by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1956 and has since become and internationally recognised program aimed at empowering young people to develop skills for life and work. 

The award program is open to young people and 14 to 24, and it consists of three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each level has four sections that participants must complete: Volunteering, Skills, Physical and Expedition. Participants must complete each section and meet the specific requirements to achieve their respective award level. 

Doing your gold Duke of Edinburgh Award will give you skills, confidence and an edge when applying for future studies or work.

Duke of Edinburgh participant relaxing in camp

At My Adventure, we are a provider that delivers the expedition phase of the Duke of Edinburgh Award for schools and private groups across Scotland. With our extensive experience, we have come together to help answer the most asked questions in our Guide to the Duke of Edinburgh Award: Gold

  • What do I have to do to earn my Gold Duke of Edinburgh award?
  • How long does it take to earn my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award?
  • Can I join Gold without completing Bronze or Silver first?
  • How do I enrol in the Duke of Edinburgh Award?

How do I earn my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award?

Taking part in the DofE award isn’t easy- it takes commitment and hard work but it is simple to get started and after all your hard work, you’ll have earned your achievement and be left feeling proud. 

The Duke of Edinburgh Award programme will give you the opportunity to:

  • Design your own award
  • Set your own goals and record your progress
  • Volunteer & make a positive impact on lives
  • Take part in an adventurous journey
  • Learn practical and social skills for career development
  • Connect with other Award participants at home or abroad

The Gold Award is the final stage in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Similar to Bronze and Silver, there are four stages in which you need to pick an activity to develop in, however the Gold also has a residential stage. You can continue with activities you’re already taking part in, such as sports or volunteering, and start counting these towards achieving your Award, or your Award could be an opportunity to try something new and develop a passion for something different.

For each section, you should set a challenging but achievable goal and be able to demonstrate development and regular progress towards this goal.

The five stages are:


Through the Voluntary Service section you can volunteer in your community which gives you the opportunity to meet people and improve skills such as: team work, communication and self-confidence.  

Here are some examples of how you could gain your volunteer stage: 

  • Supporting people in the community
  • Youth work
  • Community education and health education
  • Supporting a local emergency service
  • Charity work
  • Environmental service

Physical Recreation

The Physical recreation part of the award encourages you to improve your health and fitness. You can choose to do a team sport, solo sport or a healthy activity- Be careful to not pick an activity that falls under the ‘skills’ category. 

Here are some examples of where you could gain your Physical Recreation stage: 

  • Ball and racket sports 
  • Athletics
  • Cycling
  • Water sports
  • Winter sports
  • Martial arts
  • Animal sports
  • Fitness activities
  • Adventure sports
  • Street sports


The skill section aims for you to work on a new or existing skill- this section is all about self-improvement and giving yourself a sense of achievement

Here are some examples of what you could do for your skills section:

  • Music
  • Sports coaching
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Nature & Environment
  • Performance skills
  • Media & Communications
  • Animals
  • Gaming

Adventurous Journey

The adventurous journey section is a tough challenge and you may have to step outside of your comfort zone. You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the wider environment, as well as to develop self-confidence and team work. 

At My Adventure, we provide the Adventurous journey section of Bronze, Silver and Gold expeditions– we provide canoeing and hill walking expeditions for Duke of Edinburgh participants, find out more information about Duke of Edinburgh at My Adventure here.

Here are some examples of what you can do for your ‘Adventurous Journey’ stage: 

  • Exploring the natural world: glaciations, erosion, geology, coastal studies, river valleys, plant studies, bird studies or animal studies, insect studies
  • Exploring historic land use: prehistoric man, historical periods
  • To investigate the survival or extinction of a language
  • Exploring human impact on the environment
  • Carry out health surveys or health education in remote areas
  • Complete a particularly demanding journey by foot, cycle or canoe/kayak, horseback, ski
  • Investigate group dynamics in challenging conditions while on a camping trip
  • Following an ancient pilgrimage trail

Residential Section

For your Residential section you need to undertake a shared activity or specific course with people you don’t know, in a residential setting away from home and in an unfamiliar environment. Evenings are often as much a part of the experience as daytime activities.

This section offers a high degree of flexibility but it must be done with an organised group, registered charity or Approved Activity Provider. You must join it individually and not with an existing group of friends or as part of a school or youth group trip.

How long does it take to earn my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award?

To complete your Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, you will need a minimum of 12 months, or 18 months if you are starting at Gold and haven’t completed Silver.  

For each section, you should set a challenging but achievable goal and be able to demonstrate development and regular progress towards this goal.

For Gold, you’ll need to do your programme for at least 12 months if you’ve achieved your Silver Award, or 18 months if you’ve started at Gold level without doing your Silver – even if you’ve done Bronze. The big difference at Gold is you’ll also do a Residential section – staying away from home for five days and four nights doing a shared activity with people you don’t know.

Here is a breakdown of the time needed for each section of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award:

Volunteering: Twelve Months 
Physical: Twelve Months (If completing Skills for 12 months- you will need 6 months)*
Skills: Twelve Months (If completing Physical for 12 months- you will need 6 months)*
Expedition: Plan, train for and undertake a four-day, three night expedition. 
Residential Section: Undertake a shared activity in a setting away from home for 5 days and 4 nights.

*e.g One section for 12 months and the other section for 6 months

Can I join Gold without doing my Bronze or Silver Award first?

Depending on your age you are able to join the Duke of Edinburgh award at any stage- which mean don’t worry if you did not get the opportunity to participate at Bronze or Silver level, you can start at Gold if you are between 16 and 24 years old. If you didn’t do Silver, you must undertake a further 6 months in either the Volunteering or the longer of the Physical or Skills sections.

If you aren’t 16 yet, but are in the school year in which your peer group turn sixteen, you may be able to start a Gold DofE programme – check with your DofE Leader.

Although you can start Gold, many people choose to start at Bronze or Silver level. Starting at the earlier levels gives you a good foundation of how to do the Duke of Edinburgh award and allows you to work up throughout each stage.

If you are looking for more information about the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award, check out our blog – here
If you would like more information about the Silver Duke of Edinburgh award, check out our blog – here 

How do I enrol for Duke of Edinburgh?

To enrol you must be part of a registered Duke of Edinburgh Award centre. Many schools, Youth organisations and Community groups are registered as award centres. Every award centre has a registered member of staff that is trained to support and mentor participants throughout the award. 

Find your local award centre here 

If you do not have the opportunity to complete your award through school or a local youth organisation, you can join a Duke of Edinburgh Virtual centre. Which is a programme set up in 2021, where participants can be appointed a local Award centre without being part of the group or school, and still be fully supported throughout the course of their award. 

MY Adventure and Intrepidus Outdoors are adventure tours and outdoor experience providers, both based in Edinburgh, Scotland. We specialise in private and open canyoningcoasteeringmountain biking and hill walking tours, and deliver these adventurous experiences across Scotland. We are also a provider of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Expeditions where we run bronze, silver and gold level awards for young people. 

If you enjoyed this blog article and are looking for additional information about adventures from Edinburgh, we have published a number of other blogs:

  • A guide to the Duke of Edinburgh Award: here
  • A guide to the Duke of Edinburgh Award- Silver here 
  • Duke of Edinburgh award: Essential equipment: here
  • Top Tips for Backpacking in Scotland: here
  • The best head torches for adventures in the outdoors: here
  • Stag Party Adventures Edinburgh: here
  • Planning a Hen Party to Edinburgh: here
  • Hen Party Adventures Edinburgh: here

If you haven’t already seen it, check out the Intrepidus Outdoors Trip AdvisorYoutube channelVisit Scotland page and blog to hear about how others found their outdoor adventures with us!



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