The mass start of the Ten Tors. Photo: Adrian Harlen/MoD/Crown Copyright

The mass start of the Ten Tors. Photo: Adrian Harlen/MoD/Crown Copyright

More than 2,000 young people will converge on Dartmoor this weekend for one of the biggest outdoor challenges in England.

The Ten Tors will take place over Saturday and Sunday, when the national park will see an expected 6,000 participants and spectators for the event.

The 53rd annual Ten Tors starts at Okehampton Camp at 7am on Saturday, when 2,400 teenagers will begin the trek unaided over 35, 45 or 55 miles of some of the toughest terrain and highest peaks in southern England relying on their navigational skills and carrying all their food, water, bedding, tents and other essentials as they go.

Shortly afterwards, the shorter Jubilee Challenge, for 300 youngsters with physical or educational needs will begin.

The Army organises the events, with support and help from the two other armed services, and treats the whole exercise as practice for civil contingencies, with more than a thousand personnel taking part, almost all reservists.

Brigadier Piers Hankinson, director of Ten Tors and Commander of 43 (Wessex) Brigade, said: “For more than five decades Ten Tors has been a national flagship event, whose reputation as our foremost endeavour for youth development is firmly established and the Army, supported by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, is committed to its future.

“Over the years, clothing, equipment and regulations will have changed, but the underlying challenge of walking unaided over the forbidding Dartmoor terrain to visit ‘ten tors’ remains as demanding today as it has ever been.

“Without exception, all organisations involved with youth development continue to be supportive of the event because Ten Tors literally changes lives for the better; helping to shape the values, attitudes and fitness of thousands of young people for their benefit and the benefit of society.”

Dartmoor Rescue Group, Devon Air Ambulance, the Red Cross and Dartmoor National Park Authority are among organisations also involved with the Ten Tors.

As well as ‘boots on the ground’ the armed forces also supply a host of support equipment and vehicles to make the event possible.

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

Among them are two Sea King Mk 4 helicopters from 848 Naval Air Commando Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.

The aircraft are used to move equipment and go to the aid of participants in difficulties.

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

“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.”

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