Ten Tors Training Walk 1
Our first training walk of the new Ten Tors training season took place on Sunday 10th November. I am sure no-one can have failed to notice just how much rain has fallen recently and this had a dramatic impact on the rivers and bogs of Dartmoor.
With 45 pupils wishing to participate in Ten Tors training we had to manage the pupils carefully to ensure everyone got out on to the moor safely, to experience time on the tors and gain a good grounding in basic navigation and campcraft. The new trainees were split in to six small groups of five or six, mixed between the years and the sexes, so that everyone would be working with someone that they didn't know. Three groups headed off on to Dartmoor, each with a qualified walking leader and adult helper. The pupils worked in pairs to navigate to big and small features like wall corners, trig points, tors, boundary stones and cairns; they walked on bearings and took note of the features they came across to help them stay on track.
Meanwhile the other three groups set off down the Granite Way and were instructed on some basic, but essential walking skills; communicating with your team mates, sharing the heavy loads, staying together as a group, calculating pace count over 100m, orientating the map, "collecting features" as they walked a route and working out what to do if you can't go the way you planned! The morning ended up with a short team building session – how to put up a tent you have never seen before. The day started off quite quietly and calmly, as everyone was new to it all, but by lunchtime everyone had relaxed and got in to the spirit of being on Dartmoor and enjoying time in the fresh air. All six groups met for lunch on the edge of the moor and swapped over for the afternoon activities. The afternoon held a brief moment of excitement for the new trainees as we rejigged groups to respond to other events ... Read on!
In the morning the first to head off across Dartmoor were two teams of Ten Tors "veterans" who were going to walk independently. As a result of the swollen rivers, we had had to adapt the routes that they had planned to do, and set them off with strict instructions not to cross any rivers. We separated the Year 10s from the Year 11s so that the Year 10s had the chance to take responsibility for themselves – they had all done Ten Tors before...
We had adult volunteers ready and in place on the tors to checkpoint the teams as they came through. Whilst there was mist in the early stages of the morning, we were not expecting it to last long but knew its presence would give our trainees an early challenge to focus on their navigation. Both teams sailed through the first checkpoint and then only the Year 11 team appeared at the next one! The Year 10s confidently radioed in to the checkpointers that they were on Gt Kneeset – where they were supposed to be. But then radioed in to say they might not be where they thought they were, but that they could be on Lints Tor, or it could be Gt Links. After a conflab over the radio we worked out where they were - Fur Tor - the most remote tor on Dartmoor and nearly 3km south of where they should have been!
As in life, we learn from our mistakes. This team of Year 10s had been under the safe wing of the older, experienced Year 11s both throughout their training and during the Ten Tors event last year, and so we wanted to push them and challenge them early on in this year's training. They rose brilliantly to that challenge - they made a mistake with their navigation, but kept calm and, with help, eventually worked out where they were and how to get back to where they needed to be. The lesson they will have learnt is that they need to focus on navigation at ALL times; it is all too easy to get involved in a conversation and forget the basic principle that we have taught them: 'Bearing - Distance - Time - Features - Backdrop'.
We look forward to seeing all our trainees again in just under two weeks when they will have a much longer walk from Okehampton Army Camp, and will visit several of the tors that feature in the Ten Tors Challenge.
Outdoor Education Coordinator1 day ago