The story continues……
2nd Weekend: 18-20 March 2016
This weekend we were accompanied by Miss Nattrass, Mike, Ben (who managed to get back from his ski-ing holiday with no injuries – however we put paid to that on Saturday!), Sally and Mr Worsman who acted as our driver.
Again we gathered at school at 5.45 pm to load our rucksacks into the trailer and ourselves into the minibus. As we could only use the 14 seat minibus, and therefore couldn’t get everyone down to the Moor, Sally’s husband, Ray, brought their car down and Harry Jarvis offered to travel in it with Ray and Mike. Jack was also going to travel in the car but as Rebecca wasn’t coming with us due to training on Dartmoor the following weekend for her DoE Gold Award, he decided to travel in the minibus with Miss Nattrass and Mr Worsman.
For this weekend we were camping at Magpie Leisure Park on the south moor. We arrived at 9.20 pm and again had the fun of putting tents up in the dark. The staff were impressed with the way we got on with the job of putting up the mess tent and staff tent before putting up our team tents. Thankfully as the teams had done a really good job of planning their routes for Saturday, we could all just enjoy a hot drink and a biscuit before going off to bed.
At this point, a secret must be divulged – Ray doesn’t like camping. Sally had therefore booked a cabin for him – imagine the shock of finding out that Sally was also going to sleep in the cabin rather than putting up with a tent (this wouldn’t have been possible but for the fact we had another adult female on the team). Sally has promised this won’t happen again!!
5.00 am Saturday morning came around very quickly and we were all woken by Sally giving the tents a shake and wishing us a “good morning” – as if! She did however cook us all porridge and bacon sandwiches – probably to make up for not camping. This weekend we were expected to carry our tents in our rucksacks as well as the Trangias, fuel, first aid kit, poo shovel (yes you did read that correctly), compasses, maps and route cards.
We were very efficient in getting ourselves ready as we had to be in the minibus by 7.15/7.30 am for the 20 minute drive to the start of our walk. Perhaps I should explain that all the rucksacks go into the trailer and have to be unloaded for us to put on, have the rucksacks checked and boots checked (remember this point for later) before we can begin.
You will be impressed to read we were ready to start our walk at 7.20 am – an excellent beginning to our day. The 45 mile team had been warned that their day was going to take them over a particularly difficult stretch of the moor. This part of the route offered difficult navigation, moon grass and 11.8 km between Tors – Pupers Hill and Trowlesworthy.
The 35 mile team went marching off in one direction, the 45 mile team in the other. The 45 mile team then turned round and followed the 35 mile team!! It was particularly difficult as the 45 mile team had both days’ routes plotted on one map. At some point during the walk we lost our route plan, however we found out later it hadn’t really mattered as we had Sunday’s route with us instead of Saturday’s (shows how often we looked at it!).
Mr Worsman and Sally took the minibus round to the other side of Sharpitor and walked up to meet us – this is a rocky outcrop and picking a way through was fun! This is both teams on their way down the other side.
Regrettably for the 45 mile team it wasn’t the most joyful of days as it proved to be a challenge of navigational skill and a couple of wrong turns put us behind our scheduled time. Ben, the week before our trip had undertaken two long, arduous day walks in the Yorkshire Dales to complete his Walking Group Leaders’ Award and this had taken its toll on his knees. During this difficult walk Ben’s knees began to give him pain and he put on a support bandage. Being Ben and very stoic he didn’t complain and didn’t let it get in the way of his help, support and guidance to the team. The team didn’t manage to complete the whole of the walk but the team members learned very valuable lessons on navigation during the day. Speaking to some of the team members, they were struggling with the idea of continuing, however Ben met with the team during the evening and offered further advice and encouragement. By Sunday morning we were all ready for the next challenge.
Consider how you would begin to navigate this area of the 45 mile team’s walk between Crane Hill and Ryder’s Hill over the famous Moon Grass (one team member asked how something with such a nice name could be so horrid to walk over):
As with everything, there were some fun moments during the day. Steven had been told that his boots were undone to which he had replied that they kept coming undone. On one particularly difficult bit – going across a bog – Steven managed to walk out of his boot – and walked another couple of paces before he realised something was missing! After having retrieved them, he then laced them on properly.
The 45 mile team managed to drop their map in the water – it’s lucky we have waterproof maps with us during our training walks – this might not be the case with the army issued maps on the “real” thing.
The 35 mile team meanwhile walked with Miss Nattrass and Mike. They covered a distance of 28.5 km which they completed in about eight hours.
Back at base camp, (after having a lie down) the teams set about making their dinner, whilst Sally cooked for the staff. The 35 mile team then had to get their route plan done for Sunday – the 45 mile team had managed to get theirs done during the classroom sessions.
Bedtime was very welcome and most of us slept well.
Sunday was again heralded by Sally giving our tents a shake and wishing us “Good Morning”. This morning we had to cook our own breakfast just as we will do on the actual event. Somehow or other the staff still managed to get porridge and bacon rolls cooked for them by Sally.
Happy Birthday to Dan – we had a birthday cake the night before to celebrate.
When we asked Ben how his knee was he said he hadn’t slept very well because he couldn’t get his finger comfortable! He then told us that whilst trying to protect his knee following a river crossing he had grabbed hold of a branch to haul himself up from the bank and a thorn had gone into his hand; this he had got out but by the morning his hand was very swollen and he couldn’t open it properly so thought as it was so painful he may have broken it.
Staff had discussed options the night before for ensuring the teams had a walker with them if Ben was unable to participate. This proved to be the case and Miss Nattrass ended up walking with the 45 mile team. We were very impressed with the pace she set us.
Mr Worsman, Ben and Sally waved us off at 7.30 am – another excellent start for us all – then Mr Worsman took the minibus round to another tor to wait for us and “spot” us all to make sure we were on track. Sally meanwhile took Ben to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.
The 45 mile team were very pleased to see Ben when he met up with them at Nun’s Cross and helped navigate them over a difficult area down to Green Hill Cairn where he said goodbye and walked back to meet Sally and Ray. (His knee was not in a good enough state to walk with us for the day and we were relieved to know that his finger was not broken, it had only gone septic from the thorn). Whilst waiting for Ben, Ray and Sally got talking to another leader who, it turned out, was also a compliance officer for the event. His job, with many others is to stop teams during their training to ensure everything is as it should be. Sally assured him that our teams had their green cards with them (this gives essential information and contact numbers). He was happy with the information given and would have nothing to report. He told us that there were 220 teams out training during the weekend, with 10 compliance officers wandering around the moor.
The walks on Sunday went really well with both teams completing their full distances and coming in within 10 minutes of each other. Spirits were high at this achievement. Ben was there to meet us at the end whilst Sally and Ray had returned to the camp site to start breaking camp. Arriving back at the site to help pack up, Sally provided us with a drink and cake (obviously still feeling guilty!). Back in the minibus by 5.30 pm and at school by 7.45 pm (although a stop at a MacDonald’s on the way was quick!!
Next time we will be “out on our own”. The leaders will all go “tor hopping” to make sure we are getting our navigation right and be there at any tricky river crossings to continue our training. Can’t wait!!
To be continued …….
Thanks to Sally Pinner for the write up.
Ten Tors Part 1 can be found here.