For the second successive term, St Bart’s CCF was able to fulfil all its planned activities. In early February, a highly successful Weapons Handling Training (WHT) weekend was held for year 10, supported by both St Bart’s instructors as well as members of our Cadet Training Team (CTT). This was followed in March by an optional Night Exercise for Army and RAF cadets in Years 11, 12, 13. This was an excellent activity with great progress being made by all in their fieldcraft and weapon handling skills. A week later, it was the turn of Year 10 to have their respective Field Days. The RN section had a great day at Portsmouth (reported last term) while both the Army and RAF sections spent the day at Bramley. The Army section honed their fieldcraft and ambush skills, with those who attended the WHT weekend able to have their first experience of blank firing. The RAF undertook archery, orienteering and patrolling. Fine weather for the day added to the overall enjoyment of these activities.
Throughout the term, those aiming to take part in the Ten Tors event completed four training walks of increasing length and increasingly heavy rucksacks. With a strong representation from Year 10 for the 35 mile team, we were delighted to be able to enter a second 35 mile team, late in our preparations, in addition to the one 45 mile team. This meant that very few were disappointed not to make a team following the selection weekend on Dartmoor, which took place over the first weekend of the Easter holiday. The two day walk, with an overnight camp at Holming Beam, was completed in superb weather enabling all to learn a great deal about navigating their way through this unique landscape. The majority returned to Newbury on the Monday but 8 cadets remained to join with those already experiencing the variety of activities in our Adventure Training week. All those on the Adventure Training week took part in mountain biking, archery and indoor climbing and those not involved with Ten Tors training also completed two day walks with an overnight camp on the last two days of the week.
On the weekend of 6 – 8 May, 18 students in 3 teams participated in the 60th Ten Tors Challenge on Dartmoor. After 2 years of the event not being able to run, St Bart’s were delighted to be able enter 2 teams of Year 10 students in the 35 mile event for the first time in at least 15 years, as well as a team of Year 12 students in the 45 mile event. After a day of kit checking and route planning in school on Thursday 5 May, the teams travelled to Okehampton for final preparations together with the other 400 teams involved on Friday 6 May.
All were up bright and early ready for the 7am start on Saturday morning with their rucksacks filled to the brim with tents, sleeping bags and all their equipment for the 2 day expedition. With warm, calm weather all day Saturday the teams made excellent progress, despite their encounters with the Dartmoor bog at various times during the day, and reached their 6th or 7th Tor before they camped. On Sunday morning some early mist meant their navigation skills had to come to the fore, but all 3 teams coped well and were delighted when the mist cleared to reveal another sunny day. The first 35 mile team (our first all girl team in recent memory) completed their route just after 1pm, followed by the second 35 mile team just after 3.30pm and the 45 mile team just before the 5pm cut off time.