Reporting by Will Mullins
There were five boys representing the 8th Hampstead in the Chiltern Challenge, which is one of the most challenging hiking events for Scouts in the UK. We would be walking over 15 miles, with nine different checkpoints, and we had to plot our own route using 6 figure grid references. The teams competing came from all over London and Hertfordshire, with some teams from as far away as Devon. This was our debut in the challenge and we weren’t expecting to do that well. Our team had Nick Van Oosterom as team leader, Angus Turnor, Jonathan Routley, Tom Shurman and Will Mullins.
We all had an early start for the challenge. Rendezvous with Tom and Jonathan was at 6.15am at The Hall. We then collected Angus and Nick from Nick’s house. My dad and I had made bacon sandwiches for breakfast for everyone to eat in the car. We had to drive to Hertfordshire, about an hour’s drive away. It wasn’t until halfway through the car journey until anything was mentioned about the walk. I think we were too tired or too nervous to talk about it. Our team name was to be ‘The Crossfield Crew’. Although it was our first time doing the challenge, lots of the competitors had been doing it for years so we had good reason to be anxious.
We were the tenth team to leave, just after 8am, as the sun was coming up. We were hoping that we would finish in around seven hours. Anyone who has done the Isle of Wight walk before will be wondering why it would take so long. The Chilterns are a mass of giant hills and hard surfaces; you need to navigate as well.
Our start took a very long time, mainly because we had to plot our route, and we lost a lot of time through this. The first half up to lunch was relatively easy and we gained a few places. But after lunch it became difficult. The sun had reached its high point and despite the fact it was mid October it was very hot. The navigating was challenging. The ground was hard as it hadn’t rained for ages so it was very hard on your feet. It felt that we were losing a lot of places so when we eventually got to the checkpoint it felt great that we had only lost a few. The last few Kilometres were definitely the worst. Our feet were in bad shape and we were also pretty hungry. But in the end we finished in a time of 6 hours and twenty minutes, in joint 18th place. This was pretty good considering that there were 220 children in 50 teams competing. The winning team took 4 hours, and the slowest 10 hours 51 minutes.
There were balloons outside to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the challenge. Overall I think that our team did well and we all think we can do better next year!