Competitors start last year's event. Photo: Sergeant Adrian Harlen/MoD/Crown Copyright

Competitors start last year's event. Photo: Sergeant Adrian Harlen/MoD/Crown Copyright

More than 2,000 teenagers will take to the hills this weekend in a test of their mettle.

The annual Ten Tors Challenge takes place on Saturday and Sunday and will see 2,400 youngsters attempting routes across some of the most difficult terrain in southern England.

The event, celebrating its 52nd running, will offer 14- to 19-year-olds the chance to complete a route across Dartmoor totalling 35, 45 or 55 miles over the two days.

Competitors must be self-sufficient, navigating their own route, carrying gear, food and other essentials.

Most of the teams entering the Army-organised Ten Tors are from schools and youth groups from Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. Scores of Scout groups, sports and ramblers teams and armed forces cadet units are also taking part.

Brigadier Piers Hankinson director of Ten Tors and Commander of 43 (Wessex) Brigade, said: “For more than 50 years, the annual Ten Tors Challenge has shaped the values, attitudes and fitness of thousands of young people.

“It literally changes lives for the better. Over those years clothing, equipment and regulations will have changed, but the underlying challenge of walking unaided over the forbidding Dartmoor terrain remains as demanding today as it has ever been.”

The Jubilee Challenge will start immediately after the Ten Tors, with nearly 300 youngsters with special physical or educational needs, many in wheelchairs, completing 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.

The Ten Tors tests teens' commitment and determination . Photo: Sergeant Adrian Harlen/MoD/Crown Copyright

The Ten Tors tests teens' commitment and determination. Photo: Sergeant Adrian Harlen/MoD/Crown Copyright

Brigadier Hankinson added: “To complete Ten Tors and the Jubilee Challenge takes considerable commitment and determination, not just from the individuals and teams participating, but also from the adult team managers and group leaders whose selfless commitment and dedication bring the experience and love of the wild to new generations.

“We will be presenting more Ten Tors Awards again this year to those essential adult volunteers, whose dedicated support has kept the Ten Tors Challenge alive.

“I remain extremely grateful to the Dartmoor National Park Authority, the emergency services, Dartmoor Rescue Group, Devon Air Ambulance Service and Red Cross and to all the many other voluntary organisations and individuals, too many to mention, for their continued assistance with the safe conduct of the Ten Tors Challenge.

“Safety remains our primary responsibility.”

Kevin Bishop, chief executive of the Dartmoor National Park Authority, said: “Ten Tors and the associated Jubilee Challenge are part of the Dartmoor calendar.

Two Sea King helicopters will be on duty. Photo: Sergeant Adrian Harlen/MoD/Crown Copyright

Two Sea King helicopters will be on duty. Photo: Sergeant Adrian Harlen/MoD/Crown Copyright

“They provide a unique opportunity for young people to experience the special qualities of the national park and, we hope, to develop a passion for the national park.

“We are pleased to work in partnership with the military, commoners and other agencies to help make the event a success: to minimise the impact on the natural environment, maximise the benefit for the local economy and provide people with an opportunity to learn more about the national park.

“We wish those participating good luck.”

In all, 1,000 military and civilian personnel will be on duty over the Ten Tors weekend.

Many members of the Armed Forces on duty during Ten Tors weekend serve in the Territorial Army and include members of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Reserve who man the tors, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry who help youngsters who have to pull out of the event, members of Plymouth-based 155 Transport Regiment who direct traffic and 6 Rifles – the South West’s TA infantry Battalion – who mastermind the logistics of the event.

Many Reservists have been volunteering at Ten Tors for decades and travel from far and wide to ensure they can still take part.

The armed forces also supply support equipment and vehicles to make the event possible, including two Sea King Mk 4 helicopters from 848 Naval Air Commando Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.

The aircraft will be on hand throughout the event, weather permitting, to help the movement of equipment and to respond to any injuries which may occur on the moor.

The Ten Tors starts at Okehampton Camp at 7am on Saturday.

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