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How to Loose Cheshire Hike

Looking at the way the hike has operated over a number of years, we see a number of common failures that cause teams to loose Cheshire Hike.

Firstly, I would like to say that personally I do not see the hike as a competition at all.  The adventure and satisfaction of managing to complete the challenge of the hike is reward enough, but a score is given, and teams do win both at district and county level.

Given that you are well practiced, and have good map reading skills then these mistakes will guarantee that you can’t win.

The first problem is seeing the hike as a race.  The winner is never the fastest.  The hike is assessing your ability to follow the route accurately.  How do we assess your accuracy?  We judge how lost you have been by two measures.

  1. How long you took to do the leg.  We know the time you should take, and any longer looses you points.  You can take a much as an hour over this time and still get some time points.  There are a few bonus points for being faster, but it is only a few.
  2. How many OB’s you have seen.  The OB’s are clearly shown on the correct route.  You should have no problem seeing them.  This is a much finer indication that you followed the correct route, and is suitably rewarded.  Each OB has about the same number of points as completing the leg in the time it should take.

The winner is normally the one with the most correct OB’s.

So given a choice between taking a shortcut to save time, and following the route collecting one OB, is a no brainer.

The second common problem is missing a checkpoint.  If your route is checkpoints 1,2,3 and you miss out checkpoint 2 and go 1,3 you have four problems

  1. Check point 3 does not have the details of the OB’s between checkpoints 1 and 2 so you can’t score for those.
  2. You have lost any points that you could have scored on the incident at checkpoint 2.
  3. The scoring system does not have any way of giving you time points for a ‘leg’ that it does not know about.  So you get no time points.
  4. More importantly, the time taken to do the two legs will have reported you as lost.  We will have had wasted the time of people out looking for you, when they could have been helping a team with a genuine problem.  As a result you loose all the points you could have got on either leg, PLUS we deduct another 100 points from your score.  This virtually guarantees you cannot win.

The third one is not doing a crossover leg if one is offered.  Each leg is worth about the same number of points.  Not taking a crossover is giving your competition an immediate advantage.

Fourthly, is not making the base camp in daylight.  This will disqualify you, and will be severely penalized.  You may have to trade following the route or taking a crossover against getting into the base camp in daylight.

Finally, is using your mobile phone for a non emergency purpose.  We know your mum wants to know you’re safe, and you want to play your latest game, but as discussed in the separate Telephone post, using a mobile phone can cause us multiple problems, and as we cannot differentiate the innocent from the guilty you will be severely penalized.

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There has long been a clamour for mobile phones to be permitted on Cheshire Hike, and I would like to illustrate some of the reasons for the committee’s resistance to permitting them.

When Cheshire Hike was founded mobile phones had not been invented, and the only way of the teams contacting control was using call boxes.  Scouts were required to carry change for the phone with them on the hike.

Over the last few years mobile phones have become a universal gadget few people are without.  At the same time the number of call boxes has diminished significantly.

We have had two hikes in the last few years where we have trialled allowing phones to be carried.  The results have not been a success.

The worst case was when a team rang home, and asked their parents to pick them up, without informing control.  The result of this is we believed we had a missing team and a lot of time and effort that should have been used for support for other needy teams was diverted needlessly looking for them.

A mobile Phone is not a substitute for training and practice.  The biggest problem we have had is that teams loose their way, and instead of resolving the problem themselves, ring the emergency number.  This blocks the line for any genuine emergencies.

Last year with only the Junior section having phones, the emergency line was tied up almost continuously by two or three teams who had evidently not done sufficient practice.  My favourite reply to the question “What can you see that we can use to identify where you are?” is “If you see that aircraft that has just taken off, it went right over our heads”.  Genuine.

If a team is to carry a Mobile phone then it must be made clear to them that it is for emergency calls to control only.  Other use will result in severe penalties.

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