What is the Overland Hike?

The Overland Hike is a two day competition incident hike for Scouts over 12 years old and Explorer Scouts. The hike invovles walking approximately 15 miles on the first day and approximately 10 miles on the second. The teams of 4 visit a number of checkpoints en route where they complete incidents. Teams carry all their equipment for the weekend, including the overnight camp.

What's so good about the Overland Hike?

As anyone who has taken part in this event will tell you, the Overland Hike is not simply a hike competition, it is the ‘Ultimate Challenge’ of Scouting skills for all older Scouts (aged 12 and over) and Explorers mainly from the whole of East and West Sussex but open to other counties.  As they will also tell you, it is also an exciting and thrilling event, and a great deal of fun.  When you walk on to the stage at the end of the event, to collect your certificate for completing the hike, you can hold your head high knowing that you have successfully completed the challenge.  If you manage to be in one of the top three teams, you’ll have proved to everyone that you are among the best in the County.

What does it involve?

The Overland Hike involves a 2 day hike over a set route navigating from checkpoint to checkpoint, carrying everything you need for the weekend. You will need to be a strong hiker, an accurate navigator with a good dose of common sense thrown in!

Where and when does it take place?

It always takes place over a weekend close to Easter somewhere on the South Downs. The exact location is a closely guarded secret until two weeks before the hike.

What sort of physical training is needed?

You need to prepare your body if it is to walk 25 miles over 2 days. You will need to start training by walking shorter distances for just one day. It's best then to slowly build up to the full 25 miles, 15 miles on the first day and 10 miles on the second. It's also a good idea to build up the weight in your rucksack slowly until you are carrying all the kit you need for a two day hike.

What level of Scouting Skills are expected?

The skills needed are no different to any that are already in the Scout or Explorer training programme. You may need to brush up on your navigation and campcraft but there is nothing that is specific to the Overland Hike.

What essential equipment is needed?

The kit list page has a full list of everything your team will need to be either wearing or carrying. It can also be found in the rule book. Pay special attention to boots and waterproofs so that you don't get blisters or are soaked through. Don't forget that rucksacks are not waterproof so make sure you use a liner of some sort.

How precise do we need to be in complying with the weight limits?

The total weight can be spread out through the team, but if your total weight exceeds the limit you will lose points and need to reduce it before you can start. The kit list is a minimum so don't miss any of it out to save weight. Weight can be saved by careful planning of the menu. Look carefully at the weight of team items such as tents and stoves.

What are the rules on tentage?

Explorers will need to carry all their tentage for the weekend.

The Scouts will need to carry a tent that all 4 team members could fit into should they stop in an emergency. You will need to test out to see if you can all fit in the tent you will carry. The Scout's other tent will be taken to the camp, where it can be collected later.

If a team is a mixed team made up of 1 girl and 3 boys, or 3 girls and 1 boy, it may be difficult to find enough lightweight tents to accomodate all the team and stay within the weight limit. In this case the extra tentage can also be taken to the campsite for collection later. This applies to Scout teams only.

Any tents that are left at the start for transferring to the campsite must be clearly marked with your team number. More details on how big the area you will be camping in can be found on the campsite page.

How does the points system work?

There are 20 points available for the incident at each checkpoint. These can be gained for how well a team does on the incident and for teamwork. There are also 20 hike points available between each checkpoint. The campsite is also a good place to gain points. See the Campsite page for more details.

How are the hike points calculated?

The hike points are calculated at 3 miles per hour with a small allowance being made for ascent.  When you leave a checkpoint your time is entered onto the log card. When you arrive at your next checkpoint hand the logcard in as soon as you get there. The checkpoint staff will calculate how many hike points you have gained on that section. You lose points for every minute late you are over the expected time but do not gain any extra marks for walking faster than 3 miles per hour. You therefore don't need to run to gain full marks and any team seen running will lose their hike points for that section.

What happens at the initial check-in?

At the start you will be called into the hall at your allocated start time so it is worth turning up a little bit earlier.. You will have received this a couple of weeks in advance. Once in the hall all your kit is checked and weighed. If you have any items missing then you will need to find maybe borrow them or lose points if its not a major item.

Once your kit has passed, the admin team will check the names and ages of all the team members. They will issue a team number and some hints and tips on how to do well in the competition. They will also go through with you what to do in an emergency, including taking your mobile phone number and sealing the phone in a bag.

The last thing to happen at the start is that you are given a map reference of the first checkpoint and a log card to be completed at all the checkpoints. After that you can start hiking!

Are there any rules about routes between checkpoints?

The route between checkpoints follows public footpaths and bridleways. Although parts of the South Downs are open access, as shown on Ordnance Survey maps,  and have 'the right to roam' you should stay on the footpath and bridleways at all times. There may be some very short sections of road walking, particularly close to the start and finish of the hike. Bearing these rules in mind, pay close attention to the map to work out the shortest distance between the checkpoints.

What is a Via Point?

A Via Point is a place on the route that you must visit between checkpoints. They are not on every section and are most often at road crossings. If you miss a Via Point then you won't get any hike points for that section.

What happens at the checkpoints?

When you arrive at a checkpoint the first thing you must do is check in. This means all 4 team members smartly walking to the check in desk and handing over the log card. The person on the desk will direct you to an area where you should wait until called to do the incident. Use this time to have a drink or some food. When you have completed the incident collect your rucksacks and return to the check in desk to get the next map reference. When you have worked out where you are going you should then Check Out. When you check out don't forget to collect your log card.

At the halfway checkpoint on each day there is a free hot drink available and a tuck shop, so you may want to bring a small amount of money.

What kind of incidents can we expect at the checkpoints?

The incidents can be a test of scouting skills, common sense or just fun. They have included first aid, pioneering, knotting, compass skills, senses, archery, fishing, logic puzzles, campfire sketches, estimation, boat part recognition, ball skills, horticulture, map making, pottery, backwoods cooking, equipment recognition, bird calls and many more!

What about the courtesy checkpoint?

The courtesy checkpoint may be anywhere along the route. The people at this checkpoint will not tell the team they are being marked. It could, for example, be a test of how polite the teams are at a road crossing, how they respond to someone on the campsite or an interview for a local radio station.

What happens at the campsite?

The campsite is a place that tests many scouting skills including campcraft and cooking. Look at the campsite page for more details.

What kind of meals are recommended?

The meals you eat are very important as this is your fuel for the hike. More details can be found on the campsite page.

What happens in the event of an emergency?

When you leave the start you are given a set of emergency instructions that tells you what to do should anything go wrong. Included in these instructions is a telephone number that can be called should you have a problem. There is a team on standby to come and find you and take you to either the campsite or the finish. If you get really lost and can't tell the organisers where you are then we will come and find you. We have teams of walkers and four wheel drive vehicles available throughout the event. There is also a first aid team should you require any treatment.

What happens at the Finish?

At the finish you are given a meal and some time to rest. You might want your leader to bring a change of clothes or even your uniform to change into. When all the teams and parents have got there everyone who has completed the hike is presented with an Overland Hike certificate and Neck Slide. Once this has been completed the nail biting really starts. The results of the Scout and Explorer competition are announced with the top 3 teams in each class receiving a prize and a pennant. The winning teams in each class are presented with the trophies which they can keep for one year.

Are there any rules for leaders and parents?

Leaders and parents should have no contact with their teams once they have checked in at the start. In an emergency parents should contact their childs scout leader who will have details of how to contact the orgainsers of the hike.

The organisers ask that a leader waits at the start until the team starts walking in case there are any problems.

What are the two most important things that a team needs to get right in order to do well in the Overland Hike?

You need to 'be prepared' with your training and equipment and your team needs to have a really good 'team spirit'.