Wallbury Foot Rally

(published in The Scouter in 1960)


At a meeting of the Ilford West District Senior Scout Court of Honour it was decided that a competitive hike should be organised and the date was fixed at Sunday, July 17th, subject to favourable weather conditions, and twenty-seven Senior Scouts from six troops decided to take part.

However, that Sunday dawned dull and wet and the telephone weather bureaux insisted that the rain would remain all day and become heavy in the afternoon; so the Rally was postponed to the following Sunday and an elaborate system of telephoning was brought into operation to notify competitors of the change of plan. As a further precaution all the Greenline coaches travelling in the direction of the Start, which was planned to be at the village of Spellbrook, near Bishop’s Stortford, were searched. Nevertheless, one telephone call was received from a stranded hiker who had arrived at the meeting place and found no-one there. He alleged that he had got through the dragnet by travelling by train, though how he got from Ilford to Spellbrook by train remains a mystery. Shortly after the announcement was made it cleared up and remained fine for the rest of the day.

Of the original seven crews, only two were able to make the second date, so requests were hurriedly sent out to neighbouring Districts for more entries. As a result the Groups represented were the 15th and 19th Ilford, the 40th and 41st Epping Forest Groups, the Epping Forest District Troop and the 15th Chingford Group, who were never seen again.

Although the clues were intended to be fairly straightforward, some of the teams got them wrong in very interesting ways. On the first section a ‘racing circuit followed by a pig’s abode’ had to be found. This clue was supposed to lead them to Stylemans (Sty-Le Mans) Farm, but several entrants claimed to find an actual greyhound racing circuit right next, believe it or not, to a pig farm. Later they had to find out the date inscribed on a pair of cottages behind a pump. Yet again there were complaints, this time from those who found another pair in a similar position, but with no date on its wall. As a result the occupier was incessantly troubled by callers who wanted to know how old his cottage was. That was the sort of thing that the organisers tried to avoid.

The last task on the section was simply to state the number of facets on an octagonal post. One crew borrowed the dictionary of a neighbouring forester to find out what ‘facets’ were. Another went so far as to count the number of sides and make it seven!

Then followed a navigational section through Hatfield Forest based on the navigational sections of car rallies. The competitors had to enter on their route cards certain letters displayed on trees. From these it was worked out whether they kept to the correct route or not. Some very amusing results were obtained. Not one crew kept to the correct route and every combination of detours was found.

The section ended at a refreshment house by a lake. An entertaining spectacle was of four hefty Senior Scouts weighing down a tiny boat so much that its stern was only three inches above the water level.

The final section was a brisk 3.9 m.p.h. ‘Regularity Section’, also based on car rallies, which led back along country lanes to Spellbrook. The 41st Epping Forest and 15th Ilford teams exhibited their skill by keeping exactly to 3.9 m.p.h. throughout.

The result was a decisive victory by the 41st Epping Forest, who also lost the least points in every section, followed by the 15th Ilford.