(This article has been written by DSRT Tavistock)
“Go Nice Places, Do Good Things” could have been written for Mountain Rescue; we certainly go to places that are amongst the nicest in existence. We certainly do good things on our arrival. These nice places, like gremlins, can turn nasty; then MREW are there to help, whatever the weather, whatever the time, whatever the situation.
MREW is, as most folk know, a collection of teams whose members know their ‘patch’ like the back of their hands; they are skilled in all aspects of mountain travel, have high levels of additional skills including first aid, swift water rescue and rope rescues, to name but a few.
Not everyone realises that the services being rendered are provided by volunteers, most of whom have a ‘real job’ and families at home whose lives are regularly interrupted by a shout or involvement in a fund-raising event. Team receive little if any official support, so fund raising is a vital aspect of team (and family) life.
DSRT Tavistock cover Dartmoor, not the most mountainous of areas; but if the Armed Forces use it as an extensive training ground, it’s because it is challenging, hard terrain where mistakes can be punished by this ‘nice place’.
The British Army founded Ten Tors as a challenge for young people nigh on sixty years ago, it remains a formidable event, Bronze is 35 miles; Silver is 45 miles and Gold is an incredible 55 miles – all in less than two days.
We decided to emulate the challenge with our own 11 Tors in 11 miles walk for mere mortals, and families. Five years later and the event is growing from strength to strength, the 500 places sell out quickly and the team receives several thousand pounds to fill the coffers (it costs around £12,000 a year for the team to tick over).
At 0800 Matt and I mounted our bikes and took the popular cycle track out of Princetown, this would be the ‘finish straight’ later in the day. We arrived at Swelltor (a quarry from which London Bridge was made, some of whose corbels still remain in situ). Rain was threatening and mizzle was already attempting to dampen our spirits. I donned my Alpkit Parallax overtrousers – perfect for mountain biking and for my role as a Hasty Team member (our team has hasty runners who are experienced fell runners to access casualty sites quickly, Dartmoor is perfect for this type of additional search technique).
My Alpkit brew up was next on the task list – fresh coffee from the espresso maker was a very welcome start to our checkpointing duties. Pain aux Raisins and fresh coffee- it could be France!
The teams began to arrive, in dribs and drabs at first as the speedy solo walkers blazed the way; then the trickle became a flood (as did the rain, thank Alpkit for the weatherproof legs!); the teams were coming thick and fast. Old friends, new friends, ex-team members, sister team dog handlers and search dogs.
And then there were none, four hours of checkpointing with scarcely a break – another coffee was certainly in order!