The story continues……
4th Weekend: 23-24 April 2016
A much better journey this weekend and we made good time down to the campsite – so much so that Mr Alsop let us all have a stop at Exeter services to get a drink.
This weekend we had Mr Alsop as our driver, Miss Nattrass, Mike, Ben and Sally with us (although I have to tell tales and let you know that Ben left us late Saturday afternoon to drive up to Southampton to see Derren Browne – it seems he stayed overnight with his sister who spoiled him and didn’t let him go as early as he had intended, however he was back to walk in with us on the last tor).
What a lovely campsite – very different to last weekend going from a chemical toilet to a heated shower block – what luxury. They say that it is a small world, well it was quite a small campsite (if ever you need one near Okehampton, do visit Appledore Campsite as you won’t be disappointed) and we set up camp with a caravan/car unit opposite us. On Saturday morning Sally realised that she knew the people in the caravan – old friends now living in Wales down for a canoeing competition!!
Anyway back to the walking. As a team the Yr 10 are amazing at getting up and ready for the day (parents you may be surprised at the wonderful organisational skills of your children, particularly at 0500). They were packed, breakfasted and ready to leave by about 0650. It was a short drive up to the start point of Okehampton Camp where a number of minibuses were already parked with teams ready to start their own day of walking.
We were introduced to Erica, from the Army who was acting as our Mountain Leader for the weekend. All the staff were there to set the team off on their way (the staff then took themselves into Okehampton to enjoy a cooked breakfast!!).
Jack was in charge of texting times into Sally throughout the weekend so that a record has been kept of the times and calculations done on walking speed. Mike and Ben went over to Kes Tor to meet up with the team, whilst Mr Alsop, Miss Nattrass and Sally went to Fernworthy Reservoir. Erica was also at Kes Tor waiting to see the team on their way. It was good for the team leaders to all have the opportunity of walking during the weekend, as this was the first time it had been possible.
From Kes Tor Mike and Ben met up with the rest of the staff at Fernworthy and then they all went on to Postbridge (where they had an ice cream) to wait the team’s arrival and ensure that they walked around one particular field, which is the course of the footpath, rather than diagonally across it. It seems that one year, a St Augustine’s team was seen by a Compliance Officer cutting diagonally across a field and got sent back to walk round the footpath properly. Incidentally on that occasion Ben and Sally were there watching the team – having an ice cream – and were about to do the same thing.
The team were told that they had to be at Rough Tor by the crash time of 1745 in order to be able to walk onto Little Mis Tor where they had planned to camp.
It might be a good time to explain a few of the terms:
Compliance Officer – these volunteers walk on Dartmoor each weekend of the training; they check teams are carrying a “green card” which gives information about the Country Code and also contact details of the team. If the CO sees a team walking on the North Moor s/he can check on the submitted route plan and if they have put down that they are walking on the South Moor then they will be reported as each team is only permitted to walk on the North Moor for four days of training. The result of a bad report is disqualification for the team or not being given teams the following year.
Crash Time – this is a time allocated to each Tor during the Challenge at which a team must have signed in by in order to be permitted to continue. The timings are worked out to ensure it is possible for a team to reach the next camping spot before dark (for the 35-mile team) on Saturday, or the finish on Sunday. If you are even a couple of minutes over the crash time on Sunday, the team is likely to be taken off the moor.
Team make up – teams have to be made up of members who have walked on Dartmoor for at least two weekends throughout the training.
Outside help during the Challenge – no team is permitted to be given help once the Challenge has begun. Although spectators sometimes feel it is kind to give water or sweets to teams, if a CO happens to witness it that team can be disqualified.
Stat shed – this is where leaders spend most of their time during the Challenge. It is a big shed with screens and provides updates of team positions. Similar information is available on the internet.
Should you look on the internet each team member is allocated a letter of A, B, C, D, E & F. On the screen you may see a time and then a letter – this means that the team member with that letter has dropped out – hopefully we won’t see any of those against St Augustine’s.
Regrettably the team hit Rough Tor at about 1828 so had to set up camp. Erica stated that she wanted leaders to camp within 20 minutes walking time of the team so Mr Alsop and Miss Nattrass volunteered to wild camp. Unfortunately, they hadn’t planned to carry kit this weekend so it was with much huffing and puffing that a kit came together for them both. They left base camp at about 1910, had the team camped at Little Mis the two leaders would only have had a short walk; however, camping at Rough Tor gave them 4.5 km walk with their kit!
Meanwhile Sally had informed Erica that the team were camped at Rough Tor with Mr Alsop and Miss Nattrass going up to Holming Beam and the walking about 4.5 km. Erica said she would meet Mr Alsop and Miss Nattrass at Holming Beam; she then texted to say she would walk out to see the team. A short while later she phoned to say she couldn’t find the team on Rough Tor. Panic set in that we had lost our team and sent Mr Alsop and Miss Nattrass to the wrong place. Sally phoned Jack and asked him to describe what he could see and give a bearing from another point. He gave the information very clearly to Mike who confirmed the team was on Rough Tor and passed the information via text to Erica. Relief all round when she said she knew where they were and yes they were on Rough Tor.
By the time Mr Alsop and Miss Nattrass arrived all the students were in their tents settled down for sleep.
Sunday arrived and unfortunately two students were suffering injuries and decided not to walk so Mr Alsop and Miss Nattrass walked them off the moor back to the minibus and home to base camp. Both students were really upset not to be able to walk but they were very helpful in getting base camp packed up.
Throughout the weekend the weather was very kind with the sun out for most of the time, although the wind was still chilly. Most of the students came back rosy cheeked – probably the joint effects of the sun and wind.
The team set off to walk first to Little Mis Tor which was the last point on Saturday’s walk through White Barrow onto Standon Farm where the 35 team had had difficulty on a previous walk.
After meeting the team the leaders went back to camp to start the process of breaking it down. Mr Alsop and Mike went off to Nodden Gate whilst the rest of the leaders and the two students finished off the packing up.
When Ben arrived back from Southampton all the kit was packed into his truck and trailer and then everyone piled into his truck as well to go and meet up with Mr Alsop and Mike to await the arrival of the team at Prewley Moor.
The team arrived at about 1615 and it was decided to take them off the moor at that point as it was another two hours walk back to Okehampton Camp.
Then came the worst bit for us all. The announcement of the team and the reserve. This particular year the students have been amazing and made the job of Ben and Mike more difficult than any previous year group. The students had learnt so much; come on so far and had really gelled as a team but a decision had to be made as no team is allowed to start with seven members. The students were given the decision and unanimously Josh was elected as Team Captain.
Thanks to Sally Pinner for the write up.
Ten Tors 2016 Part 1 can be found here.
Ten Tors 2016 Part 2 can be found here.
Ten Tors 2016 Part 3 can be found here.