Southern 50 – a 50k walk through the Chiltern Hills

At 7pm last Friday evening my Southern 50 team arrived at Scout Park to prepare for a challenging weekend away. We collected all the group kit and made sure everyone had everything they needed. After a quick tweet, we left and got on the tube for the journey out to Chalfont and Latimer. Multiple weird jokes and quotes helped the journey to pass quickly and Cameron got a bit confused when we went to get off the tube and said “This is Chesham.” We all replied with, “We’re not going or Chesham.”

An early, misty-morning start

An early, misty-morning start

10 minutes after getting off the train we arrived at the school and lay out our kit before checking in and being issued with important pieces of paper. We sorted some kit and talked for a while before getting ready for bed. I’d like to say that getting to sleep was easy but being in a gym with underfloor heating and about 200 other explorers doesn’t make getting to sleep that easy. We finally got to sleep closer to 1am.

Chaos on arrival!

Chaos on arrival!

At 4:30am I woke up and got dressed before packing up my kit and waking the boys up. We then headed off to get breakfast followed by kit check. At 6:30 we were ready and waiting to be called up to the start line, so we pulled out our map and worked out where we were and what map we were using first (Well, when I say we, I mean I).

Kit Check

Kit Check

Ross, Cameron and I set off at 7:02 for a 50km walk across the Chilterns hills. The day dawned clear and thankfully not to cold. We set off through woods, across fields, up and down hills stopping briefly at our first 4 checkpoints for a snack before heading straight off to waist as little time as possible. When we reached our 5th checkpoint we’d been walking for just under 5 hours and the wedges provided were welcomed. A couple of checkpoints later saw us eating fish finger sandwiches and pink wafers.

We saw a LOT of these...

We saw a LOT of these…

Our aim was to reach at least checkpoint 15 before dark, which we managed. After a stop for hotdogs and sweets we put on our torches and continued on our way. (10km left, yay!) It was completely dark within 5 minutes of us leaving the checkpoint and a very stubborn sheep in the middle of the footpath following our every move was slightly off putting. Once this was over it was a nice easy walk into checkpoint 16 were we were given cake and told to follow the glow sticks for the first bit of the next route. After a long walk through Old Amersham Town we made it to checkpoint 17.

Checkpoint 16

Checkpoint 16

I would like to say that having 6km left made us speed up, but 3km across a muddy field in the dark with nothing to tell you how far you’ve walked, it gets a little bit tougher. The lights indicating checkpoint 18 made us smile and we defiantly picked up the past a little. We were met with a smile and Jaffa cakes which we ate before embarking on the last 3km. We followed the glow sticks around the edge of the golf course, sadly this was up a hill to the road.

Leaving checkpoint 18

Leaving checkpoint 18

After a while wandering across a golf course in the dark, we reached the road and from there we found some energy from somewhere and picked up the past a little, reaching the finish 10 minutes later. After removing muddy boots we picked our stuff up and went to get changed. While changing into clean clothing, I discovered a couple of blisters, so off to medical it was to get them looked at. They were covered before I was told to go and get some dinner.

After eating all of us from both teams sat around talking about the day and eating left over emergency rations. We all went to bed quite late and the fact we were on the floor in a gym or that it was rather hot didn’t stop us from sleeping.

Sunday we woke up at 7 and once again got dressed and packed before heading to breakfast. A little while after this we all assembled in the hall for the awards ceremony, which started, as usual, with some of Fozzy’s jokes. We then moved into a speech from Hannah Kentish the UK Youth Commissioner about the impact of scouting and why it is important for it to be youth lead. Finally we got into the handing out of awards. We came 32nd and there was a little joke as we were team 32 in 32nd place. We didn’t care too much about our placing we were just happy to finish it in 14 hours. (We were faster than Marlon was his first time!)

Presentation time!

Presentation time!

We then helped to tidy up the school before joint up with KX ESU And Hampstead ESU for the journey home. Marlon handed out ‘well done chocolate’ which was much appreciated. We soon enough got off the tube ending our Southern 50 for another year and my last one as an explorer. 😦

By Amy Garrad, 17

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