Local teenagers conquer Ten Tors

June 10 2015

The Ten Tors challenge rightly holds a fearsome reputation for young people preparing to tackle the tough terrain of deepest Dartmoor. A weekend of walking in often wild weather with little sleep can be a tough call. But a group of teenagers from the area has triumphed in this year’s event, as helper (and proud mum) Helen Jackson tells us.

The weekend of Friday 8 to Sunday 10 May 2015 was certainly a weekend to remember forever for six Explorer Scouts from the Cotswold Edge Zeus Explorer Scout Unit, based in Frampton Cotterell, as they completed the annual Ten Tors challenge in record time.
The Army organises the challenge, designed to test the navigation skills, team work and stamina of 14 to 19 year olds, from Okehampton Camp on the edge of Dartmoor. Up to 2,400 teenagers in teams of six tackle distances of 35, 45 or 55 miles, depending on age, visiting 10 of Dartmoor’s Tors in a set order on one of 26 possible routes, before hopefully reaching the fi nish line before the gate closes at 5pm on Sunday. For the six team members of the Cotswold Edge Zeus Explorers - Patrick Goddard (Captain), Izzy Hawker, Louis Jackson, Gareth Jones, Tom Howell and Joshua Ovens - the challenge began back in November last year, when training started with practice hikes in the snow, fi rst aid courses and learning navigation skills to ensure the team would have the necessary skills to survive the harsh environment of Dartmoor, whilst carrying all their equipment and supplies required for up to 48 hours on the moor. The weekend itself started early on Friday morning after taking the day away from the Ridings International Academy. The team arrived late morning at a breezy Okehampton camp ready for their stringent kit check, health and safety briefi ng, route planning and overnight stay under canvas, before the challenge started at 7am on Saturday. Saturday morning dawned and the teams were woken to the Army’s wake-up call of Gangnam Style by Psy being played over the PA system at 5am. The sun shone during the fi nal preparations but the weather soon turned to get the team properly wet before they started! With bacon rolls in their bellies and carrying all their kit for up to 48 hours on the moor the team left the camp for the start line. By 7am over 2,000 teenagers in teams of six were gathered at the start point along with hundreds of spectators on the edge of Dartmoor. Two Sea King helicopters swooped in, bringing the cannon crews, who jumped out down a rope! A countdown from 10, the cannons were fi red, and the teams were off on the 2015 challenge. The weather improved throughout the day, giving a glorious afternoon and evening. The Zeus Explorers reached Tor six by the end of day one, on target for their overnight camp and completion by the 5pm deadline on Sunday. After another very early start on the Sunday morning, the team made good progress and used their training and determination to arrive at the fi nish line at 12.17pm, beating the previous Zeus record by over an hour. In Ten Tors tradition, the team fi nished in fancy dress – Bristol Rovers jester hats – proudly carrying the Zeus Explorers’ fl ag through a guard of honour formed by other scout groups at the event. After a well deserved pasty, the team members were presented with their individual medals and team certifi cate in front of a wall of cameras. Cotswold Edge Zeus Explorer Scouts were the 3rd team to fi nish out of 17 on the same route – a fantastic achievement for a fantastic team! Explorer Scout Leader, Chris Harris, said this was an outstanding achievement, with the team fi nishing 3rd on their designated route, “highlighting the tremendous hard work and effort the team had put into their training and preparation for the event” Congratulations to all those involved. Zeus Explorer Scout Unit is open to everyone aged 14 to 18. They meet at Mafeking Hall in Coalpit Heath on Tuesdays 7.30 to 9pm, for activities including camps and the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. For more information, please call the Leader Chris Harris on 07880 528810