Friday Night - 29 Teams of 4 Venture Scouts from as far afield as Ayrshire (team to the left) in the North and Kent in the South start to congregate at a old school house which has been converted to a Bunk House near the village of Ingleton in Yorkshire. For some of them it is the first time at this event, and they do not really know what to expect.
Team by team, the organisers set about checking equipment to make sure that each team is suitable provisioned with at least the minimum gear which was specified with their joining instructions.
The purpose of the week-end? - to travel from the 'top secret' starting point to the finishing point, a distance of some 36 miles, depending on the route taken, as near to 11 a.m. on Sunday morning, with three lives in tact. Each team when they are dropped off at the start point will have three lives which can be taken from them by a team of 'Catchers' that are out there watching discretely. The start time is Midnight Friday.
At 10 p.m., there is a briefing session held at base - the contents of the envelope they will be given explained, including the procedure to follow if there is an accident or some reason that the team need to contact base which is manned 24 hours a day. The catcher system is explained and then it is time to climb onto the coach for the mystery tour.
The organisers work hard at these event - finding new locations so even through we disclose the area eventually - it will not be there next year, nor last years location, nor the year before's base. You got to sign up to find out on the night.
The coaches are quiet as they drive through the Yorkshire countryside , heading for Lancashire and then north towards Cumbria. Some teams are trying to figure out where they are, bit watch the route of the coaches. Suddenly consternation sets in - "We've turned towards Shap - That's not on the maps we have" shouts somebody - all of a sudden everyone is wide awake wondering - where they are actually going?
This year we had two drop of points a couple of miles apart along the road - consternation again - when one bus stops and the other continues down the road. The teams disembark themselves, receive their instructions from the 'Courier' and set about finding where abouts they are. Once the have found their location - they are on their own - apart from the catchers which are already lying up in the area - but the teams have an hour's grace to get into the countryside and away from them.
When a catcher does 'clock' a team, they have to identify themselves as a catcher and then then take a 'Life' card off the team and mark the second life card with the time of the catch plus 1 hour. During this hour, the team cannot be caught again by a catcher.
It is up to the teams to use their ingenuity to avoid the catchers as one team succeeded in doing - sorry guys - you were spotted walking amongst that crowd of ramblers - and the technique reported to the catchers - but full points for it - that was a new one.
As usual in these events there are always the odd twisted ankle and blister cases resulting in teams dropping out of the event, and throughout the event a team of leaders are available with transport to go and attend to any such problems in the field.
The picture to the left shows the state of one team who returned to base on Saturday afternoon - No amount of noise would waken the occupier of the sleeping bag - his team tried and eventually left him to sleep. Note the other body on the bench to the left!
The finish point this year was under the Settle to Carlisle Railway Viaduct at Ribblehead, where teams will be gathering some distance away waiting their moment to make the dash for the finish point at 11 a.m.. The catchers are still out there, and if a team is found outside a pre-determined 'safe' area, then a life is again removed. The team with the most lives left, and arriving nearest to 11 a.m. are deemed to be the winners - and this year the honour went to the 1st Kendal V.S.U..