The Sussex Downsman Hike is an event held annually on the first Saturday in October on the South Downs. The 2021 event will therefore be held on 2nd October. We will be guided by the scouting association covid rules, right now the committee are hopeful we can operate the event, and watching carefully.

The Hike is organised principally for the Scout and Guide Associations of East and West Sussex, with an open invitation to Scout and Guide Groups throughout Great Britain.


  • All team members must be members of the Scout Association or Girlguiding UK.
  • An entry form must be completed before the event.  
  • It is the team’s responsibility to support track and trace requirements and maintain a list of individuals and contact details within the team (including Leaders and support personnel).  This information should be protected in line with government guidance.
  • When registering a team please provide an intouch contact (and keep this updated) so that in the event of any emergencies the team (and parents) can be contacted. Leaders should use the usual In-touch processes to communicate with In-touch contact. The committee will use In-touch contact only under unusual circumstances.
  • Each team should have a risk assessment approved by the relevant body to permit a return to face to face Scouting.
  • The Downsman Event Risk Assessment is available HERE, Section Leaders must direct Leaders and parents to view this.
  • Each team should have a risk assessment to support this event. For Scouts, Cubs and Beavers this risk assessment needs to be approved by the GSL, for Explorers, Network and Adult Leaders, this needs to be approved by your line manager. Once approved, this risk assessment will need to be submitted to the Downsman Committee prior to the event. Teams who do not submit a risk assessment will not be allowed to take part.
  • A page has been setup to support this year’s event, please post to confirm teams have started and to confirm teams have finished.  This will be used as a safety mechanism to ensure that all teams that start the event safely finish.   
  • A phone number will be provided to team leaders to contact the Downsman Committee, this event is being run under purple card rules.   Therefore, the only reason to contact the Downsman Committee using the phone, is to confirm the start or finish of a team because facebook cannot be accessed.   

Team and bubble

  • Teams can only be formed from members of their own Section. On this occasion, we cannot accept joint teams formed with other Sections. 
  • The number of participants in a team is to be set by Section Leaders but this must be consistent and comply with the Scouting COVID Code and Scout Association POR adult to young person ratios. It is strongly recommended to keep your team numbers to a manageable size. What this means is within the discretion of the Section Leader.
  • Teams may arrange for support staff to provide resources (e.g. water) and support along the route. Support staff should be dedicated to a SINGLE team.
  • Participants, Leaders in charge and support staff for a TEAM form a single ‘bubble’ for the purposes of COVID rules.
  • All participants, including Leaders in charge and support staff must visibly wear their scarf/necker so that it is obvious to the public that the team is attending a Scouting event.
  • Care should be taken to ensure that additional adults are not introduced into the ‘bubble’. In particular, during pick up and drop off, take measures to ensure that parents remain socially distant.


  • Downsman Committee will not have tracking, recovery or first aid staff available for the event and therefore will not be able to assist teams.  
  • Downsman Committee will monitor the start and finish of teams via the facebook group or by message from the leader in charge of team.  If communication does not occur in good time, the Downsman Committee will contact the In-touch contact for confirmation.
  • Leaders must ensure that safety equipment is carried by the team to include all items on the Downsman kit list. There will not be kit checks by Downsman staff. 
  • All members of the team must be familiar with and confident to use all the emergency items that are stipulated on the kit list and carried by the team.
  • The kit list should be augmented with PPE and AntiBac as needed to support the team’s risk assessment.
  • Leader in charge of teams are responsible for monitoring the progress of teams, either by having a Leader walk with the team or, if the team and leaders have sufficient experience, via remote supervision.
  • Leader in charge of teams are responsible for dealing with minor incidents and injury of their team.
  • If there is a significant injury or emergency, then Leaders in Charge must follow Purple Card procedure.


  • Start locations will be restricted to one team only.  If a Scout Group/Unit or Guide Unit wishes to enter more than one team they will need separate start locations.  It is acceptable for teams to walk the same route as long as they have significantly separate start locations and do not come within 25 meters of each other.  (For example, a Group or Unit may choose to walk the South Downs Way, starting at the Jack and Jill and Ditchling Beacon).
  • The leader must indicate to the Downsman Committee the general area they wish to hike, this is to ensure that Scout Groups/Units do not intersect on the hike.  More information will be available in the sign up site.
  • Reserving a start location will be on a first-come, first-served basis and will be requested when completing your team entry form. Remember, start locations can be anywhere within the South Downs National Park. It is recommended that teams consider quiet locations and routes.
  • Teams will plan their own route and this can be anywhere that stays within the South Downs National Park. It must be a sensible route, such as point to point, circular or figure of eight and not multiple laps of a short circuit or continually walking up and down the same path on a hill etc.
  • The maximum time for different sections are as follows: 
    • Beavers 1hr 
    • Cubs 3hrs 
    • Scouts 4hrs 
    • Explorers 5hrs 
    • Adult Teams (Network/Leaders) 6hrs
  • Teams are welcome to hike for a shorter duration if they prefer. 
  • Teams may start hiking from 08:00.
  • Main roads, such as fast dual carriageways, must be crossed via safe bridges or underpasses and not on tarmac. In addition, Leaders must supervise crossings of all busy roads and rail. Routes should be planned to avoid unsafe crossings. 
  • Walking along main roads without pavement or safe footpath within the verge is prohibited. 


  • All competitors must know and follow the Countryside Code. 
  • Teams must stick to rights of way and must not cross ploughed fields or climb fences. 
  • Team’s participants should make best efforts to maintain social distancing.
  • Each team should remain 25 meters apart from other teams at all times, except when a faster team is overtaking a slower team on a narrow path.   This should be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, where possibly the slower team should stop and step to the side in the biggest passing space available. Teams should pass back-to-back. The 25 meter separation between teams includes pinch points such as styles and gates etc.
  • If your planned rest spot already has a group there, then you will have to accept you may have to move further on and create a 25 meter distance between them.  


  • Teams will earn a point for every meter of distance walked and 8 points for every meter of ascent climbed. This scoring uses the principles of Scarf’s Equivalence Rule. 
  • Teams will need to use a tracking app, such as Strava, which records the date, distance walked, elevation gains, time taken and picture of the route showing the GPS trace. This data will then need to be shared with the Downsman Committee. It is recommended that several teammates record the hike and have battery packs to keep phones topped up with a charge. A separate phone should be available for use in an emergency. The data will need to be shared with the Dowsman Committee immediately upon completion of the hike and by no later than 17:00 on Saturday 3rd October. (More detailed instructions on how to do this will be communicated later via the Downsman website).
  • All teams that enter (and submit tracking data) will receive a medal.  Trophies will not be issued this year, although team results will be shared.