Ten Tors 2023

Two teams from the Britannia Explorer Unit completed the 35-mile and 55-mile Ten Tors Challenge in April. This was the culmination of seven months’ training, building on the Scouting skills developed in the younger sections.

Training events in the autumn focussed on pitching tents, cooking on stoves, emergency aid and navigation basics – usually in the local park or at the Group’s headquarters in Paignton Harbour.  In the winter, every two to three weeks, the teams started walking longer distances on the coast path and day hikes on Dartmoor – practising more challenging navigation techniques and becoming more comfortable with the weather Dartmoor can provide! True to form, the mist, wind and rain appeared frequently!

To provide some variety, the teams travelled to Abergavenny, bedded down in a local Scout Hut, and participated in the South Wales Three Peaks Challenge in the Black Mountains, South Wales, along with 500 other walkers. This was 20 miles in one day, climbing 1,500m over Blorenge, Sugar Loaf and Skirrid. The event started at 7am and everyone finished before the 7pm cut-off (including some weary leaders!), just in time to enjoy tea and cake in the Guide Hall!

By early April, both teams were confidently hiking 80% of their Ten Tors Challenge distance, unaccompanied.

Leaders setup the Unit’s base camp at the Okehampton Army Camp on the Thursday morning before the Ten Tors weekend, getting in the queue at 05:30. Once the base camp was established, it was back to work for the leaders ahead of bringing the Explorers up for their final preparations on the Friday. This included finishing their route plans, annotating their maps and checking they had the mandatory team kit.  There was just enough time to check out the Engagement Village – various branches of the armed forces showing off their skills and equipment – before heading down to Okehampton to carb-load on pizza!

1 – Enjoying the Engagement Village

05:00 Saturday morning arrived with Chariots of Fire blaring out of the public address system. The teams ate as much breakfast as their nerves would allow before getting into their start position for 06:30 – thirty minutes to adjust boots, apply sun cream and recheck the map. The mist was thick, so the teams would be relying on their compass skills for the first hours of the challenge. The gun fired at 07:00, and they were off!

2 – The 35-mile team ready for the start
3 – The 55-mile team looking confident!

The 35-mile team’s route was to take them anticlockwise around the north moor, whilst the 55-mile team went clockwise with an additional loop south of Princetown.

4 – The 35-mile team’s route
5 – The 55-mile team’s route

The teams were trying to get to their eighth tor on day 1, to minimise effort on day 2. The 35-milers got through their seventh tor, as did the 55-milers who sensibly decided to camp due to darkness and the return of thick mist.  Both teams were back on the road before 05:30 on Sunday and arrived at Okehampton to the applause from supporters and parents well within the cut-off time of 17:00.  The reward? An incredible sense of pride, a medal, a pasty, and memories they’ll carry with them forever.

6 – The 35-mile team on the podium, in torrential rain
7 – The 55-mile team on the podium

It is a huge achievement for the Explorers and it is exceptionally rewarding for the leaders involved to have seen the skills, confidence and determination of the young people develop during the past few years.

Onward to 2024!