The second weekend in May every year is ‘The Ten Tors Weekend’ when 2400 14 – 19 year olds tackle 10 tors on routes of either 35, 45 or 55 miles over 2 days. Not forgetting the Jubilee event where another 300 or so youngsters with varying degrees of disability tackle their own Ten Tors. Although I have been involved with Ten Tors on and off in various capacities over the last 30+ years, this was my first year as a fully qualified member of the Dartmoor Search & Rescue Team, Ashburton.
The rescue team base themselves between Fernworthy Forest and Sittaford Tor for the weekend where members are on standby to evacuate participants with injuries or locate teams that have gone missing. In addition when the conditions are poor, we have worked closely with the organisers to make sure everybody is accounted for and safe and well. This year, fortunately, the weather was perfect.
Ten Tors for the team started in the week leading up to the event where all our equipment is tested and packed ready for transfer to our base camp on the Friday. The kit doesn’t just include our vehicles, a control vehicle and a Land Rover ambulance, but also stretchers, first aid & medical equipment, ropes, water rescue gear, radio’s, generators, personal kit, tents, the list goes on. Basically everything that may be required to support a search and/or rescue over the event.
Once packed the vehicle and kit is transferred to base camp on the Friday and set-up ready for the 7am start on the Saturday. At base camp, team members are allocated into various shifts for the weekend and during their shift they are based at Sittaford Tor or Quintins Man, transferring back to base camp at the end of the shift. The team are only stood down over night when all teams and team members have been accounted for at their overnight camps at various tors around the moor.
400 teams of 6 are allocated one of the 26 different routes available to complete over the weekend. Team members can drop out but if more than 2 drop out of a team, the whole team has to drop out. Each route has ten manned checkpoints they need to reach in a specific order which will vary for each route. Once a team has arrived at a checkpoint, they swipe an orange tag that updates the Ten Tors website with the time at that checkpoint indicating to those waiting eagerly for information on their teams progress, where they are.
Our role is to work alongside the army who deploy us when an incident occurs. This weekend, due to the lovely weather, we were thankfully fairly quiet. We had one stretcher carry for a lad who had a badly sprained ankle, and various participants that had to drop out and needed escorting back to the nearest fallout centre so they could be returned to Okehampton camp for reuniting with their team managers. Our final job on the Sunday was to walk out to pick up 2 youngsters who had badly blistered feet and couldn’t continue. We located them, patched them up, and walked them slowly back to the fallout centre. Their choice of footwear didn’t really help their predicament as their feet and socks were soaked from the famed Dartmoor bogs.
We have little involvement with the Jubilee event unfortunately due to our location, however a previous blog gives an insight into this wonderful event which, if you ever get the chance, is well worth supporting.
Finally, it was time to return to our camp, pack up the equipment and head back to our Rescue Centre. There we checked equipment, recharged radios, and had everything ready to go for our next callout.
Finally, I am very chuffed to say my daughter sucessfully completed her 2nd Ten Tors this year. She undertook a 45 Mile route and returned to the finish at midday on the Sunday. To say I am very proud of her achievements is an understatement. I’ve been wandering around since Sunday with a grin like a Cheshire Cat!
Photo credit: Simon Rhymes
Ten Tors is not a race. Some teams seem to have the competitive edge to be the first team at the finish. Personally I think this is a shame as there is next to nobody at the finish to welcome them home. The best time to finish is between 11am and 3pm on the Sunday as that’s when most people are about and they always give the teams a raptuous welcome which the early finishers just don’t get. When I did Ten Tors I finished at 10:30am. I wish, with hindsight, I had sat somewhere for half and hour or so to make our triumphant return even more memorable!
Ten Tors is a fantastic event and its so nice to see so many polite and enthusiastic teenagers out in the great outdoors. Long may it continue.
Ten Tors Website http://events.exeter.ac.uk/tentors/
Dartmoor Search & Rescue Team Ashburton website http://www.dsrtashburton.org.uk
Photo slideshow of this year’s event.