Report by Eliza Ladd and Jessie Holman – Year 10
Never ending bogs, blistering feet, gale force winds .The Ten Tors weekend was one to remember. As we sit here in our comfortable clothes, we will never again take being warm and dry for granted. The Ten Tors expedition was something we didn’t think we’d see the end of but with 3 and half hours to spare we completed the challenge.
6 months ago, 40 students all thought they were up for the challenge as we started with a series of day walks, the first of which was on Bodmin Moor. Looking back now this was so easy in comparison to the real challenge. Small rucksacks, long lunch breaks and little mileage, yet the bogs were too much for some. After the first day walk the teachers started bringing in the 15 kilo bags, each one of us took turns carrying to carry one, trying to avoid our turn as the notion of carrying a 15 kilo bag around the moors seemed insane.
The teachers needed to get the numbers down to 12, so scheduled a weekend walk - a task they thought would be challenging. We both realised how cold the nights got when we forgot our sleeping mats and resorted to breathing heavily down our sleeping bags to gather warmth. If that wasn’t bad enough, I mistook my nice dry socks for the soaking wet ones I’d been walking in all day which resulted in a sleepless night. After this experience, 14 students remained keen and sadly we had to lose 2 of these. This was a tense moment, but happily we made it through. For our next walk we had a glorious weekend of sunshine, as we climbed tors pointlessly carrying waterproofs which made us naïve to the hail storm filled weekends that lay ahead.
The months of training and the sheer determination of our Richard Lander team finally paid off with the arrival of the Ten Tors challenge. We set up our home for the following 2 days at Oakhampton Army Camp on Thursday 8th May. Attempting to put up a marquee in high winds made us realise how much of a challenge Ten Tors was going to be. Looking at the weather forecast for the weekend, all we could see was hurricane winds and non-stop hail storms. There was a level of trepidation within our team as we stood at the start line with helicopters at the ready and then the cannons sent us off.
One of our biggest problems throughout the 6 months of training was rivers, with the British winter providing overflowing rivers all over the moorland. It was just our luck to hit our first river of the weekend in the first ten minutes. Searching up and down the river for a crossing point took up precious time but we managed to find a narrow point, one of us leapt over first, the rest of us swung our 15 kg rucksacks over and then jumped .
Getting to the first Tor was reassuring and we collected our first stamp and set the tracker so the teachers could relax. We progressed with a minor detour which meant having to cross two very wet and windy bogs on our way to Higher White Tor. The 55 milers had more energy than us and were dancing and singing their way around the moor, when we misread our route they kindly put us back on track and before we knew it we at 5th Tor - halfway! Putting up our tents on top of Tor 6 was one of the biggest challenges, there were tents blowing around everywhere and pouring rain but soon enough we had pitched, cooked our pasta and got into our dry clothes .
Day 2 began at 4 am with porridge for breakfast and then then off to Lynch Tor. A river crossing caused a bit of a detour but soon enough we were getting through the tors at a decent pace.
Sitting at Tor 9 looking across the valley at the biggest tor in Dartmoor - Higher Willows Tor - was quite daunting and we had to descend before ploughing up ‘death valley ‘to reach Tor 10.
We had finally done it and were on the nice easy rocky path back to Oakhampton. As we got further along the path the crowds started growing and the cheering got louder and we couldn’t seem to get the smiles off our faces. We had completed the ten tors challenge at 2:08pm and were congratulated by with a big pasty, a cup of squash and a nice chair!
Ten Tors - an exposure never to forget.
Pictured: Ten Tors RLS Team Jessie Holman (Team Captain), Eliza Ladd, Harvey Ryan, Jamie Barton, Toby Blanks and Miguel Richmond.
Below: The team were fitted with a tracking device so that anxious parents and teachers could follow their route. The map above shows all of the K-teams. The straight lines indicate teams being taken off the moor by helicopter having retired early.