Bideford Expedition Group take part in a range of events & walks right across the South West region.
This is an annual competition organised by the Exmoor Rotary Club for school aged children. In April/May teams of four young people take part in a 16 mile unaccompanied day walk. The course is unmarked so following instructions, map reading and compass skills are essential. There are a series of check points along the route and each leg has to be completed in a pre-determined time. points are deducted if teams arrive too early or too late and they will need to answer a series of questions on route. Every young person who successfully completes the event receives their medal and College certificate.
This is a sponsored event but sponsorship is entirely voluntary and is usually in aid of Children’s hospice South West.
Preparation for this event starts in October with a Taster Day. Anyone interested in taking part in the Exmoor Challenge event is invited to attend a Taster Day walk so they can get an idea of what BEG and walking in wild country is all about. Then follows at least three practice walks. The aim of these walks is to develop youngster’s endurance, navigation and team skills needed for the event. Finally youngsters chose their own teams and are entered into the challenge.
Dartmoor Training and Ten Tors for Year 9 and above
Dartmoor isn’t just wild in places, its craggy granite outcrops, wooded gorges, tumbling and rocky rivers all make this a very special place and one that can encourage a true spirit of adventure.
Beware! Dartmoor is considered to be one of the last wilderness areas in England.
Its unforgiving surroundings and ever changing weather conditions will catch you out if you’re not completely prepared for it.
In order to undertake Dartmoor & Exmoor based walks including events such as the Exmoor Beast, a 27.5 mile walk in April, young people must commit themselves to training over the period between October & April. The Ten Tors Challenge event is in May but training can not start on Dartmoor until February.
The training begins with a Taster Day for year 9’s in early October followed by six day walks (Sundays) and four camps (Saturday and Sunday) throughout the season. The idea being that the youngsters will gradually increase the amount of kit they carry and distance they walk. Also navigation and team skills are continually promoted. Initially the young people walk with qualified adults but are gradually introduced to walking on their own. This only occurs when the instructors are happy with their competence.
Expedition Training and Camp Craft
Before any young people take part in an overnight camp out on the moor they MUST have completed a training session. This takes place at school before the first camp and will cover basic First Aid, Trangia safety and cooking, tent assembly and how to fit and pack a rucksack.
As part of the final training for Ten Tors our young people are encouraged to take part in a 20 mile plus walk across Exmoor starting Westermill and finishing at Exford. This toughest of challenges begins at 7am on Sunday morning, after the teams have spent the night on the moor and can take up to 12 hours to complete the course. The teams carry all their equipment with them with the exception of the tents. Each team is accompanied by leaders who also walk the entire distance.
All youngsters who successfully complete the Beast will be presented with a certificate at the presentation evening.
The Ten Tors Challenge
Most of you will have heard of Ten Tors as it is probably the most famous annual event on Dartmoor.
The challenge is for teams of six young people who have to navigate their way to ten tors across Dartmoor over a distance of 35, 45 or 55 miles depending on their age. The teams have to be completely self sufficient with no adult assistance and carrying everything they need for an overnight camp.
The teams congregate at Okehampton Army Camp on the Friday where they will be briefed and have their kit checked by the Army. When the routes have been planned the teams take time to relax and conserve all the energy they can for the demanding time ahead. Saturday 5 am wake up call then breakfast and last minute kit check before walking to the start at 7am.
Beware as the event is advertised as a roller coaster of blisters, doubt, tiredness, aching limbs, and overwhelming achievement and is certainly the survival of the fittest.
Brief History of Ten Tors
Back in 1959 three Army officers founded the Ten Tors Expedition for teams of ten youngsters aged 15 to 18 and the route distance was 55 miles. By 1961 the challenge we see today had been devised and some 203 youngsters took part.
These days the event is organised by the British Army 43 (Wessex) Brigade with support from the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy who man the check points, provide ‘Medevac’ cover and First Aid and generally ensure the youngsters all round safety.
The challenge is these days limited to 2,400 places – 400 teams of six members.
It is hugely over subscribed every year and is no longer a South West event. Teams are chosen by the Army and allocated in January. The college or BEG has no say over how many teams it is given or which distance they will be. As places are limited commitment to training is paramount for those wishing to be selected.
On the Saturday morning after the main event has started another 300 competitors set off on the Jubilee Challenge, an event for young people with special needs. The distances are between 7.5 and 15 miles and suitable for wheel chairs. The challenge is over one day and certificates and medals are received sharing the same spirit, determination and successes as the Ten Tors teams.
This annual event has its roots steeped in tradition dating back some 725 years. These days around 200 enthusiastic walkers tread the boundaries of the Royal Forest and discover parts of Exmoor not normally open to the public. The Perambulation is usually held in mid June and covers some 31 miles of beautiful but challenging moorland. There is a shorter walk of sixteen miles for some young members who have trained for Ten Tors. This event is popular with our more experienced walkers.
All those who have taken part in any of the events over the season will be presented with their certificates at a special award evening usually held in the theatre in May. This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the young people involved.