Hikes and hike reports

Cambridge District Scout Archive


Hiking is how a Scout moves to interact with a landscape.  Generally other forms of transport are available to get to a destination – to hike is a choice.  Being outside in the space between A and B is the hike. 

First Class Hike                      

The first class hike was intended to be the culmination of the training, all the other skills having been mastered ahead of this task. 

1926 5th Cambridge (Perse) showing Scouts without rucksacks but prepared for a hike.


POR 1938        Journey                        Go on foot or row a boat, alone or with another Scout, for a total distance of fourteen miles, or ride an animal or bicycle (not motor) a distance of thirty miles; he must write a short report of the journey with special attention to any points to which he may be directed by the Examiner or his Scoutmaster (a route map of the journey is not required). The journey should occupy about twenty-four hours and camping kit for the night must be taken and used. Whenever practicable, the camp site must be of the Scout’s own choosing, and not where other Scouts are camping. His S.M. or Examiner may indicate the route and suggest the approximate area but not the actual position where he will make his camp. In abnormal circumstances the L.A. may give permission for the paragraph to be made easier to exceptional cases. This test should normally be the final one taken for the First -Class badge.

In this era we also have photographs of troop hikes, generally on camp to a local high point such as Ingleborough.

7th Cambridge ‘On the way to Malham Tarn 1938: Cambridgeshire Collection

13th Cambridge Logs

The 13th Cambridge troop report ‘a long trail’ of 6 miles at the summer camp of 1931, in October 1939 they record a voluntary hike of 20 miles and another of 25.  In the first report they are largely young troop rebuilding from an uncertain time, in the later report they have built and maintained a number of older Troop Leaders and Patrol Leaders that are self directed and active.  The first is a troop hike for all the boys from 10 upwards, out of a camp in which they are self catering, the latter a voluntary hike from the advantage of a home base.

On these later camps First Class hikes were recorded for individuals away from the main camping body, returning the next day.  A standard Hike Report book was used for many reports.

Many ‘Hike Report books’ were used for other reasons, the one below being part of the Evercircular letters that circulated between members of the 23rd Cambridge during WW2.

Hike Report

A report on a hike was a standard expectation covering both planning and execution as well as supplementary observations around the events on the hike and tasks set or function of the hike.  Reports are part of several local camping competitions and comments indicate that some are to be handed in at the end of the hike others may be completed in a neater form following the hike. 

60th Cambridge

A report finished after the event may contain photographs, sketch maps, sketches or full coloured paintings. Reports were expected to give details of food planned and cooked, wildlife notes, weather, terrain, geographical features, architectural and historical notes alongside the route taken. Usually one member of the team was the ‘Scribe’ and all the members were named. A second may complete a sketch or map. Sometimes the expectation was that all members played some part in compiling the report.

Sketch maps and drawings are a standard part of a hike report and printed Hike Report books had mixed plain, lined and gridded pages.

Many reports did not use the lined and gridded hike report books. The painting below were part of a more substantial report book.

12th Cambridge Senior Sea Scouts 1948

The hike report was an integral part of the hike and was required for passing stages of the 1st Class Scout.

The report was expected to move the hike away from an event in itself and for hiking to be a skill set that enabled other planned activities. The reports that have been specifically saved tend to relate to the big events and to the well produced reports of experienced Scouts. However, a number of reports from less experienced Patrols do remain and demonstrate a shift in emphasis from small personal troubles to larger appreciation of the adventure.

This expectation of the hike being more than the journey was carried over into the later Duke of Edinburgh Award expectations.

It can be observed that if the focus moves, with experience, from the small niggling woes of hiking it is rare that within the Scouting the objective of the hike is a significant task outside the pleasure of the hike in itself, a walking holiday.

On occasion, however, Senior Scouts or Rovers were involved in projects that were not primarily for their pleasure. Cambridge Scouts were part of the Cairngorms Weather Survey (1953) and involved in supporting Glacier surveys in Norway (1955). Impromptu events such as car crash or floods that intruded on Scout activities are rarely recorded in formal hike reports.

Some Units work up their reports into bound books.

A 7th Cambridge camp report of 1943 was written with an improvised feather (quill) and berry juice as ink.

JWR Archivist July 2021