Nearly one thousand Army Reservists and more than two thousand teenagers from across the South West battled ever-changing weather conditions at this year’s Ten Tors challenge
Ten Tors, which took place on May 10 – 11 is one of the biggest multi-agency, tri-service civil contingency exercises and youth expeditions in Britain.
Through Exercise WYVERN TOR, the Army has successfully delivered the 54th running of The Ten Tors Challenge on Dartmoor in Devon.
The event this year came just months after many of the same military personnel, assisted local authorities, the Environment Agency and blue-light services carried out a range of tasks from sandbagging to engineering during the winter floods in the West Country.
For the first time in more than 30 years, new routes aimed at improving resilience and enhancing safety were introduced, along with the technological innovation of a brand new GPS tracking system to monitor the youngsters as they crossed Drtmoor.
The Ten Tors Challenge is one of the biggest outdoor adventure events for young people in Britain today. In all 2250 youngsters between 14 and 19 from across the South West took part in this year’s event, which started at exactly 0700 on Saturday 11th May.
Despite 40 to 50 mile per hour winds, driving rain and sub-zero temperatures, incredibly 8 out of 10 of those taking part managed to complete the challenge.
A further 272 youngsters with physical or educational needs started the Jubilee Challenge, either as part of a team or as individuals, each one accompanied by an Officer Cadet from Exeter University Officer Training Corps.
The majority of the teams who entered Ten Tors were from schools and youth groups from Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. As usual, scores of scout groups, sports and ramblers teams and Armed Forces cadet units also accepted the challenge.
They trekked unaided over 35, 45 or 55 miles of some of the toughest terrain and highest peaks in Southern England relying on their navigational skills and carrying all their food, water, bedding, tents and other essentials as they went.
Many members of the Armed Forces who were on duty during Ten Tors weekend serve in the Army Reserve, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Reserve.
Members of Plymouth-based 155 (Wessex) Transport Regiment undertook traffic control and the operation of car parks on site, as well as a new park & ride scheme. 6 Rifles – the South West’s Reserve infantry Battalion – masterminded the logistics of the event and made sure it ran smoothly. The Royal Wessex Yeomanry manned helped youngsters who had to pull-out of Ten Tors.
As well as ‘boots on the ground’ the Armed Forces also supplied a host of support equipment and vehicles to make the event possible. Amongst them were two Sea King Mk 4 helicopters from 845 Naval Air Commando Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.
These aircraft were on hand throughout the event, weather permitting, to assist with the movement of equipment and to respond rapidly to any injuries which occurred.
The Army, as Ten Tors organisers, worked closely throughout the year and over the weekend with the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA), landowners and commoners to minimise the environmental impact of the event and the associated training and to maximise the local economic benefits of Ten Tors.
Audio interviews can be found at www.soundcloud.com/armymediacommsw from a number of personnel involved in Ten Tors 2014:
Brigadier Piers Hankinson MBE, Director of Ten Tors and Commander 43 (Wessex) Brigade who was also the Joint Military Commander South West during floods
Churcher’s College Combined Cadet Force, first Cadet team home
Devon accountant Major Stu Keegan, an officer in The Royal Wessex Yeomanry
Sea King helicopter pilot, Lt Adam Dean from 845 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset
Claire Southwell from the British Red Cross
Rob Steenson Head Ranger Dartmoor National Park