Ten Tors is an annual challenge, organised by the Army, for young people across South West England. In early May, 400 teams of 6 teenagers complete a demanding hike of 35, 45 or 55 miles over the wild terrain that characterises Dartmoor. At RHSB we enter a team for the 35-mile challenge. Here is the story of the 2019 team:
On Saturday 2nd February all 18 of us gathered in the Winfield centre ready to start the Bath training… in the snow! Due to the adverse weather conditions our training walk was cut short, however we still felt the ache afterwards. We particularly enjoyed the Sunday of the second Bath training as this was our first experience of cooking with a Trangia! Thank you to Mr Graham, Simon, Mrs Williams; Bethany, Imogen and Katie (who were on the 2018 team) who supported us throughout this stage of the training. After the comfort of Bath, we moved onto the unfamiliar terrain of Dartmoor. On this 3-day expedition, we learned to navigate (in a variety of different weathers – most of which were experienced all on the same day!), wild camp, sterilise water and endure consecutive days of walking. Mr Hardcastle, we don’t know how you do it! We were helped on this weekend by Mrs Williams, Mr Leather and Sheba.
Onto the second Dartmoor experience, this time with Miss Duignan and Simon joining us and Mr Hardcastle. On the Saturday, we had a tough, 13-hour walk, or more accurately, a time to find our true limits! At 6.30pm, we were so relieved to return to the minibus and make our way to camp… However, to our dismay of not having the opportunity to experience the 35-mile weekend (and our relief of having some rest), it didn’t start - the minibus had broken down! We sat in the cold minibus playing games. Thanks to Naiya, who had the idea to relax in our sleeping bags! After waiting for a long time, the taxi finally arrived ready to take us back to the school, thank you to the parents for collecting us at 1am!
Finally, the days of the event came, we were all really excited and ready to leave for Dartmoor along with Mr Hardcastle and Mrs Williams who accompanied us down to the moor. Eliana proudly received the flag from Mr Hardcastle and then, after lots of waves and hugs from our supportive parents, it was time to go. We checked the Ten Tors website, excited to discover the course we would be taking and found that we were allocated route G. Mr Hardcastle convinced us this was a good route but didn’t mention the bog….
We arrived at camp and made our way to the Beechen Cliff encampment where our tent had kindly been put up for us. We spent the day planning our route and receiving essential safety briefings. We were also made a delicious meal by the Beechen team- our last proper meal for the next 24+ hours! There was an amazing atmosphere in the camp, which was full of friendly groups and staff. We got to know several different teams, who were all looking forward to the next day, before settling down to rest, ready for the busy day of walking ahead of us.
We were all woken up by Chariots of Fire at 5am which was played on the loudspeakers. We all got ourselves ready for the day, looking forward to what was ahead of us. Everyone managed to eat some breakfast, despite feeling quite nervous as we knew we would need it later! After we had prepared ourselves, Mr Hardcastle and Mrs Williams wished us luck for the big event.
At 6 o’clock, Mr Hardcastle took us to the starting line where we gathered with 2,400 other teenagers. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many others, all ready to complete this challenge. As we waited, helicopters circled the sky above us and we watched as the skydivers jumped from them, leaving coloured smoke behind them. When this spectacular show had finished, the gun was fired, and at 7am the event had begun. We were off!
We arrived at our first checkpoint Oke Tor ahead of our route card time. It then wasn’t long until we had checked in to Watern Tor and then Kes Tor. Timings were still going really well. All of the teams we walked past were very supportive and helped us to feel motivated to continue. On the leg between Sittaford Tor and Postbridge we met Mr Leather on the moor which also helped us to keep going! It was nice to see a familiar face. We stopped at Postbridge to cover our feet in blister plasters which were starting to ache. Before we continued to our next stop.
We were desperate to reach Standon farm, Tor 7, to set up our tents for the night, however, we were worried that we might not make it in time. As we headed to Little Mis Tor we were walking along the tussocky grass when Eliza disappeared up to her waist in a bog! In the haste of trying to arrive at White Barrow before the night time we all continued to follow in Eliza’s steps, one by one we all ended up stood in a bog that reached our hips. We all burst into tears of laughter full of mixed emotions, panicking that we would not get there. Eventually, we managed to haul ourselves out of the bog, reaching Little Mis Tors at 5:21. Phew!
We kept pushing ourselves as we were still determined to make it to Standon Farm to camp. We did it and managed to arrive there at 7:32 where we put up our tents and were in bed ready to sleep at 9:30. We had a really good sleep, and everyone was determined to finish before lunch on the Sunday. Our tent was packed up and we were ready to leave at 6, the earliest time to depart.
On Sunday, the whole team really paced themselves. Having reached the 7th Tor the night before, we knew we only had 3 to go (but 4 checkpoints) and this thought of knowing we were just a few hours from the finish line, really spurred us on. After the 10th Tor, we began to feel a sense of achievement but still had a fair distance to cover. Then... the finish line! We could see it in sight and so got the RHS banner out and positioned ourselves for the paparazzi we were about to receive! These last few steps were amazing; we could see our family and friends, Mr Hardcastle, Mrs Williams, Mr Leather and Mrs Duncan in the crowd and then...over. We’d completed the Ten Tors Challenge 2019 – SUCCESS!
All of the team would like to thank the staff (Simon, Mr Graham, Miss Duignan, Mr Leather, Mrs Williams and especially Mr Hardcastle) who gave their time to accompany us on the training. We also wanted to give Mrs Duncan a big thank you for driving all the way down to Dartmoor to see us cross the line.
“The whole process leading up to the Ten Tors and the event itself has been a great experience for the girls. They have learnt new skills, made new friendships and had to demonstrate perseverance, determination and skill to successfully make their way through the selection process, training events and to the finish line. Completing the event is a huge achievement which I’m sure the girls will look back on with great satisfaction throughout their lives. Mr Hardcastle and rest of the team do a great job of preparing the team and ensuring they are confident to tackle the course without outside assistance, and even if this is not the sort of activity you normally get involved in I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend next year’s event to any of the year 9 girls who are looking to challenge themselves a be part of an incredible event.”- Richard Evans
“As soon as I’d listened to the 2018 Ten Tors team talk with such enthusiasm and gusto about this amazing test of endurance and teamwork, I knew that I would love our daughter to try for the team. It has been a great experience all the way from the initial training walks, to learning about kit and then finally learning how to wild camp on Dartmoor. Exciting! We would definitely recommend encouraging your daughters to try for the team. This challenge reveals strengths they didn’t know they had and forms new friendship bonds that will last long after the challenge itself. Highly recommended!” - Suzanne Hyde
Written by Eliza Hyde and Eloise Evans