A huge achievement

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A huge achievement

The 1633 Challenge

The annual 1633 Challenge took place over the weekend of 29 March with pupils deploying to the Dartmoor Training Centre (DTC) on Friday afternoon to camp overnight before the Challenge itself.

As part of our progressive training programme the 1633 Challenge is a step up from previous training weekends and although slightly shorter than the Ten Tors Challenge itself is designed to be a testing and formative experience. This year, ten Exeter School teams were joined by two St James School teams spread over six different routes.

In comparison to the wet and windy conditions that had plagued earlier training weekends, the weather for the 1633 Challenge could not have been better. After a chilly but rainless night on Friday, Saturday dawned cool but clear and improved during the day. A 5am reveille and breakfast at 5:45am were followed by teams forming up on the start line at 6:64am for final checks before the start at 7am.

DTC is located just to the south of Prince Hall near Two Bridges right in the middle of Dartmoor. On Saturday, the plan was for teams to follow routes rotating in an anti-clockwise direction heading north, then west and finally south to an overnight wild camp location deep in the north moor. Straight line distances for the Lower Sixth teams were around 60km for the 55 mile aspirants and 50 km for the 45 mile aspirants.

For the Middle Fifth teams straight line distances were around 45km. Actual distances were considerably more. Check points on Saturday included the mysterious Great Kneeset, the scenic Fur Tor (the most remote tor on Dartmoor), the beguiling Hoax Tor, the intriguing Devil’s Tor with the enormous Beardown Man and White Barrow with its comfortable seating. Saturday evening saw teams camping at the unexpectedly level and secluded Holming Beam Bottom – actually high on the side of a hill – complete with its own herd of Dartmoor ponies and cold spring water foot spa; an idyllic location to relax after an epic day’s walking and enjoy the last of the day’s sun lighting up the Beardown Tors to the east. But with the sun disappearing the temperature plummeted and tents were soon occupied and the warmth of sleeping bags enjoyed for a short night’s sleep.

Having lost an hour due to the clocks going forward it was good to see teams up and about in the pre-dawn darkness of 5am on Sunday having breakfast, striking tents and loading rucksacks in preparation for a 6:30am start. Lower Sixth teams set off west and Middle Fifth teams east with the sun rising resplendently behind the Beardown Tors which it had painted red the previous evening. There was no stopping the teams now and the kilometres fell away as the pace increased and they traversed White Tor, Middle Staple Tor, Great and Little Mis Tors, South Hessary Tor, Blackbrook Bridge and Royal Hill Rocks before converging at Peat Cott to complete their routes via Nun’s Cross Farm, Fox Tor and Swincombe Bridge for the final run in to DTC. With the first team coming in to be greeted by their parents and presented a certificate by the Headmaster at 12:15pm and the last at 1:42pm this was a huge achievement by all walkers who are congratulated on their success.

Managing and monitoring 12 teams requires a well-organised and capable support team to balance risk with return. We are indebted to the following members of school staff and volunteers without whose assistance the 1633 Challenge would not have been possible: Miss Brookes, Mr and Mrs Broughton, Mr and Mrs Clark, Mrs Cosford, Mr Davidson, Mrs Dunlop, Mr Griffin, Mrs Hughes, Mr Jackson, Mr and Mrs Lines, Mr Mimpriss, Miss Morley, Mr Porter, Mr Pugh, Mrs Sail, Mr Tear, Mr Thomas and Mr Vercoe.

Many thanks to everyone who kindly contributed to the collection for the North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team. The amount raised was £100.48 which will go towards the cost of a replacement control vehicle.