Ten Tors – a personal account

Hell…I mean Ten Tors  by Alex hood

Well, where to start. To describe Ten Tors in one word; Absolute Hell. Well its two words, but you get the picture. Ten Tors was the most painful, exhausting and enjoyable experience of my life. With multiple blister plasters and some very powerful painkillers, we managed to complete the 35 mile ruthless and terrifying expedition of Ten Tors.

The last training walk, finally! Although we had gone off course(by about 5 miles) we were actually looking forward to the actual event. The second day had gone well and the minibus was in sight. We just have to get over this final rock and we were home free. Nearly there… OW! My ankle felt as if someone was digging a red hot poker into it. The last couple hundred metres were the most painful of my life. With a three tonne bag (not an exaggeration) and an ankle which was about to snap I wondered how was I going to fare on the final and most important walk, which was only a 10 days away!

With the day of the event looming and my ankle almost (not really) healed, the team was very highly strung. With the pressure of our families (especially my mum), the school, each other, but most importantly Mrs. Dent we were wondering ‘Could we actually do it?’.

With incredible bad luck (and a very slippery slide) Aaron had to unfortunately pull out. But with every cloud comes a silver lining and we managed to rope in Hannah, who turned out to be an essential part of the team. This was only just a week before the event.

The morning before the event and I was extremely anxious. Matt joking around and Joe, well being Joe, you could say on the surface we were more excited than nervous (I however was the opposite). We double and triple checked our bags making sure we had every essential piece to the event. I’m not sure we ever really needed bug repellent but never mind. With our bags (neatly) packed, which now weighed about 4 tonnes, we trudged our way up to scruitineering. With a very helpful scrutineer and my over-packing we managed to get through scruitineering with full marks. We were one step closer to completing Ten Tors.

Waking up way to early for my liking (even though I slept like a log) we believed we were ready. With delicious spaghetti bolognaise the night before, courtesy of Mrs.Dent, and Joe eating a stack of bacon sandwiches that morning, we had full bellies and set off to start the expedition of our lives.

With my mum fussing all the way up to the start line and walkers about twice the size of me (I don’t mean the crisps) I wasn’t brimming with confidence. Our bags were heavier, the sun wasn’t shining and my ankle still wasn’t healed. I was nervous to say the least.

After some words of encouragement from the organisers, I turned to Joe to ask how he was feeling. I started by saying “Joe how….”BANG! The guns went off scaring the living daylights out of me! With the helicopters flying overhead we started with a sprint. This was the start of a very, very long journey. Great.

Pushing our bodies to the max mentally and physically we knew we had to get to Tor 8 (Great Stapleton Tor) or we would not be able to complete Ten Tors. It would have all be in vain. Pushing past the pain into a new realm between conscious and unconscious I pushed my body to the limit. Practically dragging myself by my walking sticks we made it to our destination, Tor 8. Without trying to get our hopes up we had an overwhelming sense of achievement, we were so close to finishing, there was just the simple fact of 10 miles left.

Walking is a form of hell, camping is another. The food is disgusting, the wind always makes a racket and you have enough room in the tent to, well, you can’t really move at all. Other people may enjoy camping but I certainly don’t! After taking off my sopping socks (not with water but sweat) and a few seconds of searching I found out what was causing me a tingly, yet excruciating, pain. My first blister. Just my luck!

The second and final day was upon us. We must have started at sea level because the amount of hills we had to climb was unbelievable. We climbed Lynch, Chat and the ironically named Kitty Tor. But with my luck we had saved the best for last. After climbing High Willhays you can see why they called it high. We were so close to the finish, we could even see it (I could even make out my mum). The crowd was waiting for us, it was roaring with anticipation and excitement which just pushed us on forwards. The last couple of hundred metres were the best. With constant jokes of the event of the past days and the realisation that we were so close to the finish, we were buzzing.

We started off sprinting so we decided to finish sprinting. With our feet in tatters and our bags weighing us down, we ran the last 20 metres. When we passed through the gate we realised we had done it. All of us had finished the gruelling experience. I had my weekends back and I vowed never to step a foot on Dartmoor again.

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