By: Blonde Two

Yesterday was sunny.

I should end this blog post there really as sunny is such a good thing, particularly if you do not have to go to work that day.

Yesterday was sunny, so I took my job for the day out into the garden and established myself, my laptop, my oldest but most flexible Dartmoor map, my compass and my cup of tea (it took several) out on the picnic table.  It is just as well we have a decent sized picnic table because Harry-the-Jack-Russell decided that he should sunbathe on one half of it.

I had three fairly long route cards to write for our final (already) Ten Tors training weekend next week.  They took all day, partly because I kept popping into the greenhouse to do things with seeds.  Route card writing takes so long because you need to include a lot of “just-in-case-you-need-it” information.  Our youngsters are at the stage now where we could give them a list of tors and they would be able to set a bearing, work out their timings and walk the route (well if they can’t by now, we are in trouble on May 10th!) but there are lots of other things to think about;

1. Sunset – it is getting later each day at the moment but it is worth remembering that it still happens.  If we plan a route that is going to take too long then it is Blonde One and I who will have to go stomping off into the dusk to gather the troupes up instead of cooking our supper.

2. Hills – there are lots of hills out there on Dartmoor and it is tempting to ignore them when you are setting up route timings.  A quick slight of hand with a piece of string will give you an overall distance and thus time but you need to look at things in more detail to avoid the supper missing scenario in point one.

3. Check points – although, in theory all of our youngsters can manage without us all day, it is good to build in a few checkpoints so that you can; a) make a visual check that they are ok, b) give them lots of praise, c) eat some of their sweets.

4.  River crossings – if there is something that I am going to fret about (there are many things), it is river crossings.  The sun is shining today but I have never seen rivers rise as quickly as the ones on Dartmoor.  Giving alternatives or advice on the route card is one way to make sure that the kids take them just as seriously.

5.  Escape routes – if something goes wrong when the youngsters are out without us, they may need to know the quickest way off the moor.  They are quite capable of working this out for themselves but the operation is a lot smoother if you know which way they are likely to be heading.

So, you can see that a whole day writing route cards was not wasted. Planning, even if you do have to change your plan 6,052 times on the day, is the key to worry free training.

One thing to note though – there is a little talk that I need to have with our 55 Mile team. On last time’s route card I put some sarcastic messages about how they had promised that they would write the card for me, there were some nice messages about Jelly Babies too.  When they got back safely and on time, they didn’t mention these messages at all so I asked them about them.  The answer I got made me gnash my teeth and grin at the same time, “We didn’t really use the route card. We worked it all out on our own.”  So much for the time spent on it but as I said, most of the information is just-in-case-you-need-it.  They obviously didn’t!