The annual challenge, now in its 61st year, tests the limits of the participants over the varying routes, encountering some of the wildest landscapes and highest peaks in Southern England who rely on teamwork, navigational skills, sheer grit and determination to succeed.
In a statement Colonel Neville Holmes MBE, Commander Headquarters South West and Director Ten Tors said: “It is with regret that I have to announce it is no longer possible to hold a physical Ten Tors event on Dartmoor this May. As you know, we have been working closely with the local authorities and Ten Tors Policy Committee to plan a safe and enjoyable event but the restrictions that will still be in place over that period mean this is no longer possible."
"I know this will be a huge disappointment to many however, given that safety is always our number one priority, I hope you understand. We are planning to enable a virtual event which teams may wish to conduct closer to home during 2021 to keep the Ten Tors ‘flame alive’. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the enablers and volunteers who continue to support the event and hope that we will be able to deliver a full Ten Tors in May 2022.”
This is the second year that the demanding trek over the Northern part of the Dartmoor National Park has had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but whilst the youngsters will not be able to gather in Okehampton to undertake the event together, there will be an opportunity to participate in virtual events in the true spirit of the challenge.
The event is led by the British Army’s Headquarters Southwest based in the heart of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire and involves 1000 Reserve and Regular personnel from all three services across the region along with partner agencies such as the Duchy of Cornwall, British Red Cross, Dartmoor National Park, Devon and Cornwall Police, local authorities and a host of volunteer organisations.
Approximately 2400 youngsters, aged between 14 and 19, participate with a further 300 youngsters with physical or educational needs taking part in the Jubilee Challenge.
The majority of the teams who enter Ten Tors and the Jubilee Challenge are from schools and youth groups from across the South West. These include scout groups, sports and ramblers teams and Armed Forces cadet units, all of whom train hard over months before the challenge.
Those taking part trek unaided over different 35, 45 or 55 mile routes and encounter some of the toughest terrain and highest peaks in Southern England. They rely on their navigational skills and carry all their food, water, bedding, tents and other essentials as they go. It is a feat they must complete as a team and without any help from adults and they’ll remain entirely self-sufficient during their arduous expeditions, including camping out overnight on the moor.
Immediately after the start of Ten Tors, up to 300 youngsters with special physical or educational needs - many in wheelchairs - start the Jubilee Challenge, competing routes up to 15 miles. The youngsters can enter either as a team or as individuals, each one accompanied by an Officer Cadet from Exeter University Officer Training Corps.
Safety is at the heart of the planning and execution of the Challenge. It is an exercise which is meticulously planned by the Headquarters South West over many months in advance working closely with other key civilian organisations, such as Devon and Cornwall Police, the Met Office, the British Red Cross and the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Group, who provide almost 350 volunteers.
For the vast majority of the young people taking part in Ten Tors, the event itself is the culmination of months of training designed by Team Managers to ensure they are fit enough to walk up to 40 miles in one day across Dartmoor, but crucially are also gelled as a team and proficient at navigating across the wilderness of the open moor. Team Managers are also required to attend an Army briefing which focuses on the harsh extremes of the Dartmoor climate and their responsibility to ensure that their teams have the right equipment to keep them safe. Further briefings and kit checks are carried out on the day before the start of Ten Tors by military adventurous training experts and members of the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Group.
Dartmoor National Park
The Ten Tors organisers work closely with the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA), landowners and commoners to minimize the environmental impact of the event and the associated training, to maximize the local economic benefits of Ten Tors, and to help those taking part to appreciate and understand Dartmoor’s special qualities.