Following practice sessions of cycling in a big group and instruction on road safety, and considerable planning, with bikes serviced and checked over, and bikes fully kitted with our tents, cooking stoves, some food and of course our personal kit (we do not have escort vehicles) the time came to set off on this year’s expedition. We gathered at Goring Railway Station at 19:45 after dropping off our bikes and kit, loading these into Skip’s van, and on Akela, Stitchy and Gunner’s cars the evening before for a quick get-away. The Scouts arrived smartly in uniform and promptly on the Saturday for an early start at 08:00 so as to arrive at our drop off vehicle parking place, a farm near to the Grand Scout Master of ‘The British Boy Scouts and British Girl Scouts Association’ (BBS) and for the ‘Order of World Scouts’ (OWS), the Reverend Dr. Michael Foster, home in Tarrant Hinton, Dorset.
At the farm we joined up with the 1st. Wessex BBS Scout Group who were also joining us on this year’s Cycle/Camp Expedition, making a total of 25 Scouts (11 years to 16 years of age) and Scouters taking part, our biggest ever expedition, numbers wise. With bikes fully kitted up we were greeted by the Grand Scout Master who wished us a great adventure, and what a great experience for the Scouts and Scouters taking part.
Skip gave last minute reminder instructions on safety and cycling rules that we insist upon; he then announced the cycling groups, because obviously with 25 Scouts cycling there was a need to break these down into 3 groups, leaving a large gap between each group so that motorist can overtake safely. So at 11:15 we set off cycling the first leg from Tarrant Hinton to Poole (30km/20 miles) where we were staying overnight at the 1st Hamworthy Scout Group’s Hut near Poole Harbour, because we needed to be at the Poole Ferry Port by 07:00 in order to catch the ferry to Jersey at 08:00.
It was great meeting the leaders of the 1st. Hamworthy who showed us some of their old record photographs, and it was clear from the uniforms and badges worn, that originally the Scout Troop founded in 1908 was as a BBS Scout Troop and in 1909 a BBS Sea Scout Troop founded by the then Scout Master Rector, Rev. George O’Shea. It was very typical for a Minister to have formed a Scout Troop because Christianity played a big part in Scout training as it does with the BBS today. The BBS (also known as ‘The Peace Scouts’) at this time comprised a third of all Scout Troops and Scout members in the UK, but suffered a big decline in the First World War with a big loss of Scout Officers and particularly the loss of the Chief Commissioner and founder Sir Francis Vane; so like the 1st. Hamworthy many Troop registered with the Baden-Powell Scouts (later known as the Boy Scout Association) in 1915 onwards. But the BBS stayed reasonably strong and again increased in numbers in the 1920s/1930s.
Sunday morning at 05:30 it was up, wash, breakfast, bike check and then off to the Poole Ferry Port, arriving in ample time and being the first allowed onto the ferry.
After the 4.5 hours ferry trip, we disembarked at the Port of St.Helier, Jersey from the ferry by 13:00, ready to cycle the (30km/20 miles) to the first camp site, the Jersey Scout Centre at St. Ouen where we were greeted by the site managers who made us very welcomed.
With tents up, we then had to get supplies and one of the site staff ran us by car to the nearest shop some 4 to 5 miles away, it was getting rather late and we only just caught the shop before they were due to close. Two days supplies' were purchased because of the distance to the shop.
During our two nights stay at the Jersey Scout Centre, apart from the spells of heavy downpours and the bright sunshine, there were six other Scout Troops and Ranger Guide camping or staying in the lodge, we made lots of new friends, enjoying a game of football with one of the Troops, that ending in a draw; two all. We visited the Jersey War Museum, the Jersey Pearl works both very fascinating, and also took a hike along the beautiful sandy bays. The site management were impressed by the smartness of our traditional Scout uniform, as were so many others on Jersey who had stopped us to enquire about the BBS Association, they particularly praised the wearing of the Scout hat, the shorts, long socks and garters. The site managers asked if they could take a photograph of our two BBS Scout Troops, to display in the centre and also to take back to South Africa, which of course we obliged them. Then goodbye on the Tuesday and off to the next camp site.
After a short cycle ride along the West coast line and stopping off for sightseeing and refreshments, we arrived at La Moye for lunch, the camp site being close by. On arriving at La Moye we bumped into the Wolf Cub Jamie and Beaver Toby, and Mum and Dad from our Scout Group who were also on holiday in Jersey and also cycling during this. We also were met by the GSL of the 10th. Jersey (St. Brelade) Scout Group who showed us the way to their camp site and HQ where we were to spend the next three days. What a great HQ they have with excellent facilities, the land provided by the local council and HQ provided by public donations.
During our stay at St. Brelade, we hiked to the Jersey War Tunnels (about 5 miles) and back sightseeing on route the Corbiere Lighthouse, St. Aubin’s and St. Brelade’s Bays. The Jersey War Tunnels are vast and very interesting, an excellent exhibition and a very cool relief from the very hot day of the hike.
On the Thursday, it was planned to have an easier day, so we took the bus to St. Helier Bus Terminal, and caught the bus to the Pallot Steam Museum where we found a vast collection of every type of vehicle and machinery you could imagine, even church organs that the Scouts (and Scouters!) could play.
Then it was intended to be a short hike to the next bus route stop, that unfortunately turned out to be a far longer hike in sweltering heat having just missed the hourly run buses, but luckily our hats and uniform provided great protection, so finally we arrived at Durrell Wildlife Zoo, in time to catch the bus to Gorey Castle, our next destination. But, the bus could only hold 17 of us, so the remainder had to await the next bus that went near to Gorey and then hike the remainder of the way.
On arrival at Gorey with its beautiful bay, beach and harbour, we were met by Jason, Scouts Josh and Alice’s father (two Scouts who were on the expedition with us). So after a walk around Gorey and then a visit the well preserved Gorey Castle, where the Scouts entertained themselves by dressing up in the various customs provided at the castle, Stitchy as a fair maiden, others as dragons and knights, etc. From the castle there were excellent views across Gorey Bay and harbour.
We were then treated to a barbecue at 18:00, all 24 of us provided very kindly by Josh and Alice’s father (Jason who owned the house directly below the castle and overlooking the Gorey Harbour and Bay) and Jason’s parents and a couple of friends. Jason and a friend had earlier that day caught a lot of mackerel, filleted and barbecued these; there is nothing better that fresh fish on the barby. Soon the Scouts had devoured the lot, including sausages and burgers of course. What a great evening we had and the icing on the cake came, when Jason had organised a coach to take us all back to our camp site at 20.00. We were all very grateful to Jason and family for a great evening's entertainment and generosity, of course we gave them a Scouting ‘B-R-A-V-O’ as a traditional Scout thank you.
Friday morning, it was up, wash, breakfast , kit up the bikes, bike and kit check, a good clean of the camp site and HQ, and then in full uniform on the bikes down the excellent cycle ways and sea front to St. Helier.
On arriving at St. Helier Ferry Port, the Scouts were given just over an hour to shop in St.Helier before we had to board the ferry at 13:30. Again we were the first to board the ferry with our 24 fully kitted bikes. The crossing was rather rough at times, but apparently it is known for its swaying at sea, a couple of Scouts were unwell, despite having taken travel tablets. Again there was so much interest shown in our smart Scout uniform from some Ranger Guides and members of the public on board. At around 18.30 we had disembarked from the ferry and cycling through Poole, and along the harbour front, through a vintage car exhibition, to the 1st. Lilliput Sea Scout HQ where we were to spend the night before cycling back to Tarrant Hinton and the Grand Scout Master’s home.
The 1st. Lilliput Sea Scout Troop made us very welcomed and as it was their parade night, invited us to join in their flag break parade ceremony complete with the Boatswain pipe being sounded to pipe the colours. The Sea Scouts provided us all with mattresses to sleep on and the use of all their HQ facilities which was greatly appreciated.
Whilst sitting around after dinner we all reflected on the expedition and generally it was agreed that we had all had a great time and another great adventurous experience, along with great interest from all sorts of people in the BBS and what it stands for in today’s Scouting, it was amazing how many people stopped and complemented the Scouts on their smart uniformed appearance, good manners and road sense and safety.
So the last day had now arrived, so it was up at 07:00, physical exercises under instructions from Stitchy, wash, breakfast, pack kits for the final time and securely load on the bikes, bike check and we were then back on the bikes cycling homeward on a sunny day very pleasant for cycling. Leaving the 1st.Lilliput Sea Scout HQ at 09:00, and cycling steadily homewards, visiting and stopping for sightseeing and lunch at the attractive town of Wimbourne, some visited the Minster.
Off we set again and reached Tarrant Hinton and the farm where we had left our vehicles at 14.15. After a quick smartening up and inspection of our uniforms, we set off on foot to the Grand Scout Master’s (the Rev. Michael Foster) home to thank him for arranging the parking up of our vehicles and a general exchange of greetings and good wishes, including a photograph of the Grand Scout Master, his wife and all those who took part in this great expedition. The Grand Scout Master also handed to the 1st. Wessex a large BBS sign board originally displayed on the 1st. Lewisham BBS Scout Group HQ (Lewisham, London) this group unfortunately closed on the death of the Scout Master in the late 1990s.
With all bikes and kit fully loaded on the vehicles, it was good-bye to the Grand Scout Master and then homeward bound, arriving back at Goring & Streatley Railway Station at 5.05pm the set time for parents to collect the Scouts. What a great time we had and big thanks to Stitchy for another well thought out expedition.
If you want an adventurous life now is the time to start by joining the BBS Boy or Girl Scouts, Wolf Cubs or Beavers, or become a Scouter/Leader. Each year our Scout Troop undertakes a similar expedition as well as many other camps and activities to challenge young people and give them memories for life.