The Chiltern 20 is Back!

Date: 21st Oct 2021 Author: Steve Way

At the beginning of this year, the event organisers met up on Zoom for the first of several meetings to plan how they could put on this year’s Chiltern 20.  As this would be classed as a ‘large scale’ Scouting event at that point COVID restrictions would prevent it from taking place. Then, at the beginning of September, the clouds lifted, and the organisers received the green light to go ahead.


The usual school venue was out of the question, so for a change of scenery, Braid Wood Scout campsite in Chesham became the start and finish base. The route and checkpoints were finalised, and a hundred Leaders from across GLN were contacted to ask if they could help out.  All those who could make it were allocated key roles on the day. Prospective team managers were contacted to register their young people. There was a magnificent response as 48 teams entered from all four Districts in GLN, comprising 220 participants.


Teams started to arrive on the big day from 06:30 for registration, kit check and a spot of final navigation training before setting off at regular intervals from 08:00 just as it started to rain.  After two hours the skies had cleared, setting the scene for a day of superb hiking.  The route took in The Lee, Chivery, Hastoe, Cholesbury and Bellingdon.

Fifteen teams took part in the Junior event, which was a round trip of 14km.  The rules stated that each Junior team was to have one or two adults walking with them for safety reasons. The 3rd Southgate B Team started slowly, and at the first checkpoint they were 14 minutes behind the eventual runners-up, ‘The Last Gasp’ from 6th Friern Barnet. The placings remained unaltered all the way to the final checkpoint, and then 3rd Southgate put on a spurt to finish four minutes ahead. What a perfect exercise of a team pacing itself – well done, 3rd Southgate and 6th Friern Barnet, and well done to all the other teams who completed their chosen route.


The Senior event saw 31 teams start their 20km route, and all bar eight teams were deemed competent enough to walk without any adult support. Three 12 year olds and one 11 year old from 9th Muswell Hill with the charming name of ‘Village Green Preservation Society’, held off allcomers to finish first in 05:18.  Looking back two years ago, a team of the same name finished three hours slower.  They were five minutes ahead of the slightly older five members of 22nd Southgate A Team, who, in turn were over half an hour ahead of 8th Hampstead. The first accompanied team was ‘Big fish little fish’ from 10th Edmonton, with the 1st Finchley ‘Where The Haley Are We?’ picking up the accompanied runners-up spot.  Teams carried on arriving back at Braid Wood over the next three hours, and for the first time in the history of the Chiltern 20, every team managed to finish before sunset.  They all made good use of the outdoor cooked food provided by The Hatters ESU.  Proceeds from sales will go to help fund their expedition to Nepal and India in 2023.

There was a 96% finish rate, a remarkable number as this was the first time that many of these young people had been out hiking for a couple of years.


Everybody seemed to have had a good time and are already looking forward to next year’s event, although the 13 and 14 year olds have got the Southern 50 waiting for them on 12th February 2022.



Thank you to all the adults who spent their entire day volunteering their time to fill the many component parts.

The last word goes to Bob Mole, who was one of the founder members of The Chiltern 20 over forty years ago.  He said “Good to see the event is still popular and going strong.  Looks like the teams had excellent weather.  It was especially important to get the ‘out’ back into Scouting after a long absence. Well done to all involved”.

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls