By: Blonde Two
You never know quite what is going to happen when you take a set of youngsters out walking on Dartmoor for the first time. For some of ours, despite living in South Devon, Ten Tors training is actually the first time they have ever set foot on Dartmoor turf; for most it is the first time that they have properly experienced the wet, the bogs, the cold and the hills.
We Blondes have been doing the ‘first walk’ for a long time now; it seems unlikely that we will ever tire of it as it makes us so happy. We have found that we do meet a few recognisable ‘characters’ each year:
This chap (or just as often a lass) is easy to spot because they are unwilling to give the map and compass up, often lag behind the group and because they are studying forest corners or looking for invisible footpaths. All of these represent the makings of a thorough and competent navigator; and even on a first outing you can tell who is likely to end up deciding which direction the team is going to walk.
An essential member of any team, this chap (rarely a lass) looks solid, can keep walking for hours and, from the start, has an expertly packed rucksack. All Ten Tors teams need at least one packhorse, willing to shoulder extra load when their mates are struggling. If you walk behind him you will see no slipping or sliding, each footstep will be true and solid.
No gender divide here. Watch to see who stops to check that the people who are walking behind him are okay over a stream, who walks alongside the chap struggling at the back or who tightens up another person’s bag straps. Likely as not, given a few additional skills, this lad or lass will end up being the team leader.
Occasionally the clown will get on adult nerves. His (almost always a boy) sense of humour will not necessarily match yours, he may not always pay attention and he will almost certainly be the last to go to sleep at night. But put the clown in a group of wet, tired and fed-up team-mates, and his humour and sense of fun will pick up the most blistered of feet and make the wettest of tents feel like home.
There are other team-members of course, some that we have met before and some that we haven’t. Getting the mix right is the trick when it comes to selection; never an easy time, for anyone. But for now all a Blonde can think about is the admiration that she has for them all, just for giving it a go!