All was going so well!!!
The weather was perfect, unusually warm for the time of year. All groups were ready and started on time at 08.00. At the Preyway Head check point the 45-55ers came through looking strong but the College 35 team were close behind. No sooner they had left and the Network 35 team came into sight. The final group to check in were a mix of Y9′s and four Y11 taking part as a day walk only accompanied by the leaders who were sweeping the route. So far so good!!!
At Brendon Two Gates the 45-55ers checked in, stopped for water, slapped on sun cream and went on their way. The next team through were the Network 35 looking cool but wearing some strange sun glasses!!! Expecting the College 35 we were surprised to see the Y9′s next but within minutes the College team had arrived. It turns out they decided to do a little extra, via Pinkery!!!
Next checkpoint was up at Malmsmead where Bob and Shirley were waiting to see the groups. The route then went south down Badgeworthy Water and east over to the next check point at Alderman’s Barrow. With only just over an hour of walking left this is the final check point of the day. As predicted the 45-55ers stormed through at Alderman’s Barrow at 16.00 on target to reach the finish by 17.00. The next group were due in around 17.00 but finally arrived nearer to 18.00 behind the Y9′s and leaders. It was decided that once the College 35 team arrived the groups would continue to the finish together.
Unfortunately this was not to be. Although the leaders had been able to make contact with the late group there was still some uncertainty as to their exact position so it was decided that remaining groups could not be allowed to continue to the finish unaccompanied due to the failing light. This meant that their ‘Beast’ was to finish some 6k short. However without exception all those involved were capable of finishing the full distance and despite being hugely disappointed they could not continue to Exford they showed a great maturity regarding the seriousnes of the situation.
The emergency services were then contacted to help locate the missing group. Withing minutes the police helecopter was flying over our heads sweeping the area. As the leader’s were in mobile phone contact with the group they were able to instruct youngsters to use their torches to attract the attention of the helicopter. Once the pilot had located the group their position was passed back to the leaders. As the group were well equiped with warm clothes, sleeping bags, food and shelter they were advised to stay put and wait for their leaders to come to them. The police helicopter then left the scene. The leaders did a great job locating the group in almost complete darkness and the youngster are to be praised for their great team spirit throughout. All was well in the end and the youngsters were returned safe and well to their parents.