This year, the 28th once again supported the Poole Athletics Club (PAC) with their annual half-marathon, “The Beast”, by running two water stations. We also use the weekend to do our own hike around the stunning Isle of Purbeck as well as camp overnight, with the most sublime backdrop of Corfe Castle. So our Scouts not only get the chance to support the local community in a unique way, but also bag a Night Away and a Hike Away too.
Saturday – Our Hike
We arrived at Corfe Castle on Saturday morning and quickly pitched our tents and set up our beds before embarking on our hike. Our new Scouts leant that setting up camp as a Scout is more hands on that Cubs: if you want your tent up, you have to put it up! They seemed to do a goob job though… the tents were still there in the morning.
We walked about eight miles of the course for ‘The Beast’, although we adapted our route a little towards the end. Next year, when we have a larger troop of older Scouts, we will go for the full 13-mile route – Scouts… Be Prepared!! For the first part of our hike, we helped two of the PAC marshalls put up some of signs, arrows and tape that would help the runners in Sunday’s event. However, we found that attaching the signs to the various prickly bushes of the Purbecks surprisingly tricky!
It was also interesting to see just how challenging some of the terrain is for the runners. The tricky climb up towards the road was also a challenge for our new Scouts, but they did very well considering this was their first event as Scouts… it’s certainly very promising for their future hikes.
Then the rain came down – surprise, surprise! Luckily, it was quite light and only lasted a short while. Nonetheless, we continued up the slippery, rocky hill and stopped for a quick lunch just before Afflington Barn – which would also be one of our water station sites for The Beast. Lunch over, we powered on, continuing to take in more of the beautiful scenery of the Isle of Purbeck and acrobatically tackle the many wobbly stiles on our path.
As we passed through the valley and joined the South West Coastal Path, we encountered some other people who were not quite as prepared as we were and seemed relieved that we had our OS Explorer map of the Purbecks to hand: one couple were unsure of the path to get to Worth Matravers and another couple, cycling, were heading in the complete wrong direction. The lesson we learn, Scouts, is to always take your map and compass and know how to use them!
As we travelled back up the Valley towards Kingston, climbing the side of the valley, we got a spectacular view of Chapman’s Pool and a clear view of the sea for many miles. However, this view would soon be replaced by many hundreds of sheep, whose equally abundant droppings marred our path all the way up to Kingston. However, our pause at the Scott Arms – with its truly perfect view of Corfe Castle – made the poo-dodging, uphill plod worth it…
The final leg of our walk took us gently back down the hill towards Corfe, through a charming farm and over Corfe Common. We met even more sheep and cows on our way back to the campsite: the cows in particular kept close and seemed to be very used to people strolling through their favourite grazing spots. We followed the marshalls’ arrows back to the campsite, although there seemed to be one missing in a crucial spot at the end. It was probably put there later, but we did wonder how the runners new to the event would find their way back!
Once back at camp, we got out the chairs and had a well deserved rest. However, the damp tennis ball that Peter found just before our arrival back created some unplanned excitement – what started as an innocent game of catch quickly turned into a battle of wits: lose concentration for one second and the tennis ball may end up where one may not wish a tennis ball to end up…
Either way, this kept us entertained until dinner: Akela’s speciality spaghetti bolognese – a Beast tradition! Piled with cheese, this slid down very easily, followed equally easily by the syrup sponge and custard for dessert. Delicious!
After dinner, we continued to relax – thankfully, the tennis ball had disappeared. We chatted for hours, fondly reminiscing on all of the memories from The Beast camp over the years and many other things as well. A small group with some long-term members with lots of shared memories is one thing that definitely makes the 28th special, especially when shared around a gently burning pot fire and roasting marshmallows.
The shared banter and numerous outbursts or laughter taught our new Scouts that their new section will be much different to Cubs, but they joined in with the conversation well and will be fine Scouts for sure. However, they learnt a less fortunate lesson as well – also unique to the 28th – Peter’s severe wind problem. Nasty stuff (but the rest of us are used to it)!
The night was peaceful, cool and dry… perfect for a night in a tent.
Sunday – The Beast
We were all up and about by 7 am on Sunday and what a fab morning it was. We woke up a magical sunrise seeping through the ruins of Corfe Castle which would by the start of a perfect day of weather. We enjoyed a traditional breakfast of bacon butties before starting to pack away the inside of out tents and get ourselves ready for the morning’s event – “The Beast”.
The Beast is the Poole Athletics Club’s annual half marathon event. Athletes from clubs across the country flock to Corfe Castle to tackle the challenging but stunning 13(ish) mile course through the Purbecks. Each year, we support the event by running two of the essential water stations along the course, giving the weary runners a chance to cool down and rehydrate. This year, we had one group based at Afflington Barn and the other at Worth Matravers.
After getting our water and filling up hundreds of cups of water, we waited for the first runners to come though. One the marshalls called, “first runner!”, we sprung into action, holding out cups for them to grab as they came hurling through. There is a certain skill to holding the cups: you have to grip them right at the top so the athletes have plenty to grab, but with enough strength that it doesn’t fall when they do. Either way, your arms get weary pretty quickly. The new Scouts seemed to master the skill very quickly, successfully handing out cups to many athletes who were grateful for their help.
Once the first few runners – the quick ones – trickled through, there was a short wait before the main horde of runners came hurtling thorough. It them becomes a race of filling up enough cups to keep up up with the hundreds of runners who each year seem to come all at once. Once the main group had gone through, we made sure the last of the runners had their water before waiting for the ‘tail runners’. Their arrival meant we could tidy up and head back to camp, after a very successful morning. At least the Afflington group didn’t run out of water this year and no survival shelters were needed… the weather as sublime!
We learnt afterwards that the fastest runner completed the gruelling 13(ish) mile course in a mind-blowing 1 hr 28 mins! To recognise just how amazing this time is, check out the course they have to complete!
Back at camp, our delicious pasties from the delight from Corfe Castle Village Bakery Awaited… the perfect lunch to finish a very successful camp. Our new Scouts certainly seemed to enjoy their first Beast pastie. With all pasties consumed, it was time to pack up and get the tents away. Fortunately, the sunny morning meant that, for once, they were actually dry!
Before heading home, we all collected our Beast t-shirts. The PAC give us all a t-shirt every year as a thank you for our help, as well as donating £50 to our group which is always very well received. So, here we are… 28th Beast Team 2019:
Thank you to both our our new Scouts, who did a great job. We hope you look forward to many more amazing hikes, camps and trip during your time in Scouts and that you learn lots of new skills too. See you on Thursday!