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News > OC news > Lockdown inspired walking challenge

Lockdown inspired walking challenge

Little did Adam Childs (20) and Will Duke (20) know where their lockdown hiking would lead...
25 May 2021
OC news
Adam Childs (20) left and Will Duke (20) right
Adam Childs (20) left and Will Duke (20) right

In November 2020, students in the Fourth Year and Lower Sixth started training to take part in the gruelling “Ten Tors 2021”, 35-mile and 45-mile challenges held annually in Dartmoor. The teams were formed and training started with a 6-hour hike in daylight, dusk and dark in the South Downs area. Shortly after this the country went in to lockdown. Students were tasked with continuing to train in their own time and in their local areas (within the restrictions) and to record their training using the tracking app Strava, sending screenshots as proof to the leaders. Unfortunately, however, the teams were disappointed to hear that due to continuing government restrictions, “Ten Tors 2021” had to be cancelled by the organisers.

This is where OCs Will Duke (20) and Adam Childs (20) came in. During the first lockdown in 2020 the pair had been hiking extensively round the local trails. Having ‘ticked most of them off their list’, Using his knowledge of the trails around Funtington and Adam’s knowledge of the trails around Petersfield, Will created a new route between the main school site in Petersfield and Funtington Church, location of the grave of Richard Churcher.

Adam says “The inspiration for the route was due to the lockdown posts being sent out by Mr Rowley and Mrs Harris to give students something to do. With the plan to find new hikes it suddenly made sense to make one related to Churchers by linking the College to the grave of Richard Churcher.” The original 42 km (26 mile) route is shown below.

To create two routes with the equivalent distances to those of the cancelled Ten Tors event, they were extended to reach the coast at East Head. Thus the “Ten Tors Team College-to-Coast Challenge” was created - a 45-mile (72km) route with 1034m ascent for the Lower Sixth students and a 35-mile (56km) route with 810m ascent for the Fourth Year students. A total of 27 students signed up to take part.

Adam and Will were asked to be part of the support team and here they give us an insight to their experiences...

"The weekend helping out with the Churchers to coast challenge was very enjoyable and great fun to be a part of it. It was great to see the enthusiasm of the teams taking part and how much effort they put into it regardless of the hike being in the south downs rather than over Dartmoor. It originally felt weird being on the other side of the event with the leaders rather than participating but it is a fun role that grew on us as the weekend went on. 

We were flexible with our role and location to help Mrs Harris and the team of leaders keep tabs on the teams and make sure they were on route and going strong. This involved either driving or hiking to predetermined spots to wait for the teams and make note of their location at the times we saw them. Sometimes this meant a bit of waiting around which was the most challenging part of our new roles as part of the leadership team rather than taking part. However once the teams reached our location and we could see them keeping morale up, enjoying the hike and having their navigation on point it was great to see.

For both of us hiking has been a big hobby and one we do take quite seriously while still enjoying it and this has led to some great adventures and also charity work. During our gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award practice expedition in Snowdonia we were shown the mountain rescue base in the Ogwen Valley. The work of the volunteers there is very inspirational so at the end of last summer 2020 we organised a hike to raise money to support their work. We hiked the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the Dales Way in four days totalling 108 miles carrying all our kit along the way. Throughout while raising money the phrase that kept popping up was: “We are fortunate enough to have never needed a rescue but with all the hiking we do it is reassuring to know that mountain rescue exist”, We surpassed our target and raised over £1200 for the team."

Will explains: “My passions for hiking started when I was young when my parents took me on hikes in the Lake District. Churcher’s then fuelled my passion through OSCA and pushed me onto further events such as Bronze, Silver, and Gold DofE, and Ten Tors 45. I enjoyed seeing the staff’s perspective of hikes and plan to help out with more in the future. From personal experience, I found having someone of a similar age to me helping out with the training gave me more enthusiasm for hiking, for example, Pete who helped out with the Ten Tors 35 training in 2017. I currently go to Exeter University which puts me in a great location to help out with Dartmoor training for future Ten Tors events, and I’d be more than happy to come back and help with other events.”

Adam tells us more of his plans: “Having always enjoyed playing sports and being outdoors, the number of events Churchers run to facilitate anyone with hiking interests, such as Ten Tors, DofE, and OSCA, makes it very easy to turn hiking into a proper hobby to use up any free time and explore the countryside around us. Having seen the hard work leaders put into expeditions like this, while previously participating in them, I had been inspired to start working towards my Mountain leadership award. I hope to complete this in the not too distant future so I can work on leading teams on expeditions wherever I am. This last weekend helping with the Churchers to Coast challenge further reinforced my enthusiasm to finish the award. It will also help me keep my skills fresh to come back to Churchers to help with future Adventurous Training events as it was very enjoyable.”

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