Over the weekend of 26-28th of April, a team of eight cadets from our CCF at Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School competed in the national Cadet Cambrian Patrol. We had been preparing for this annual competition since the beginning of September, with early morning fitness sessions before school and lunchtime fieldcraft revision, as it one of the most challenging competitions a cadet can take part in.
Cambrian takes place in the Brecon Beacons, which meant a long journey from Kent to Wales for the team and our officers, in a minibus packed full of kit. As soon as we arrived at 7 pm on Friday, the competition began immediately with a marked kit check to ensure we had everything we needed. After we were briefed on what the weekend would involve, it was then straight to sleep as early as possible for the entire team, as we would need as much energy as we could get.
At 4 am the next morning we had to start getting ready for the main competition day, after only a few hours of disturbed sleep due to the raging storm outside. By 6:15 am we were ready at our start point. The competition involves completing a 30 km circuit in under 12 hours, with all the teams starting in different locations and stopping at checkpoints along the way. At some of these, we had marked tasks to do, which would comprise the majority of the marks available in the whole competition. At 6:30 the 12 hours began, which commenced for our team by crawling through the freezing mud and rain into a position where we had to carry out a defensive shoot, firing at targets ahead of us that popped up at random. We then started the long walk, already soaking wet and cold. By this time the rain had turned to powerful hail. It had somehow got even colder and windier than it had been before, with strong gusts that made some of our smaller cadet’s fall over. Our team moved as quickly as possible, so early on we managed to overtake a couple of other teams. We gradually got through more and more of the distance and checkpoints, stopping along the way to complete a military knowledge test, a section attack using laser guns, range cards and a first aid scenario.
With several hours remaining we had just one more checkpoint to reach before we would return to our start point- meaning completion of the circuit. However, these two final legs of the distance happened to be the longest and steepest of the entire route, with several precarious river crossings along the way. By this point, we were all very tired, cold and in pain with an impressive collection of blisters between us, but we kept our spirits high as we knew we were nearly there. At some points along this final 6 km, we seemed to be making no progress, seemingly having to stop every few metres and struggling to make it up to the top of the steep hills. Eventually, we spotted the TWGGS minibus in the distance, where our officers were waiting nervously to see if we would be able to finish within the time, at the top of one final hill. The whole team completed the circuit together at 5:45 pm, with 45 minutes to spare. We then went back to the old cattle barn where we had slept the night before for a well-earned meal and night's sleep.
Early the next morning we woke up and walked a final 3 km walk toward the firing ranges. Despite being sore from the day before, we arrived at in just over half an hour and completed the final scored part of Cambrian- a shoot of 15 rounds of ammunition fired from sitting, kneeling and lying down. After cleaning our faces, boots, and weapons, the 16 teams of cadets from all over the UK who had taken part, lined up for the parade. Each team was given an award: certificate, bronze, silver or gold, with several teams winning each type of medal. When it was announced that our team had won gold, we were unbelievably proud of all that we had done that weekend, as well as the countless hours of preparation we had spent leading up to that moment. Next, the Brigadier announced the best commander and the best overall national team. Already very pleased with our gold medal, we were surprised to be told that we had won the award for the best national team and had won the whole competition- for the second year in a row!