Three Towers Hike

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Three Towers Hike
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The Three Towers Hike is a Scouting-organised, downland hiking competition held annually in early spring, covering footpaths in West Berkshire and South Oxfordshire. It is organised by a team of scout leaders from Reading Central, Loddon, Taceham Hundred and Pang Valley Scout Districts, all of which are within the Scout County of Royal Berkshire of the Scout Association.

Downland An area of open chalk hills

A downland is an area of open chalk hills. This term is especially used to describe the chalk countryside in southern England. Areas of downland are often referred to as downs, deriving from a Celtic word for "hills".

Hiking Walking as a hobby, sport, or leisure activity

Hiking is the preferred term, in Canada and the United States, for a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails (footpaths), in the countryside, while the word walking is used for shorter, particularly urban walks. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, the word "walking" is acceptable to describe all forms of walking, whether it is a walk in the park or backpacking in the Alps. The word hiking is also often used in the UK, along with rambling, hillwalking, and fell walking. The term bushwalking is endemic to Australia, having been adopted by the Sydney Bush Walkers club in 1927. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping. It is a popular activity with numerous hiking organizations worldwide, and studies suggest that all forms of walking have health benefits.

Berkshire County of England

Berkshire is a county in South East England. One of the home counties, Berkshire was recognised by the Queen as the Royal County of Berkshire in 1957 because of the presence of Windsor Castle, and letters patent were issued in 1974. Berkshire is a county of historic origin, a ceremonial county and a non-metropolitan county without a county council. The county town is Reading.


It is a competitive event, without an overnight camp (although teams must be equipped to bivouac if the conditions are severe enough to warrant it). It was first held as a senior event (Walkers over the age of 18) but now includes three other age groups.


The hike usually takes place on the second or third Saturday in April, but this may vary depending on the timing of Easter. The event accepts registration from 1 November the previous year.


The first Three Towers Hike took place during the 1970s, when only the Senior event was available. Originally based around the North and West of Reading, the hike gets its name from the three large water towers that were passed.

In the 1980s the route was significantly altered to include more rural paths in West Berkshire and South Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire County of England

Oxfordshire is a county in South East England. The ceremonial county borders Warwickshire to the north-west, Northamptonshire to the north-east, Buckinghamshire to the east, Berkshire to the south, Wiltshire to the south-west and Gloucestershire to the west.

Since its beginning, the Hike has run every year with few exceptions, the most notable being in 2001 due to Foot and Mouth concerns.

Officially not against the hike rules at the time, one team on the 2002 Junior Event swam across the River Thames during the race after finding themselves several miles up stream of the nearest bridge. The team then went on to complete the event but were later disqualified and a new hike rule was added to prohibit this in future.

River Thames river in southern England

The River Thames, known alternatively in parts as the Isis, is a river that flows through southern England including London. At 215 miles (346 km), it is the longest river entirely in England and the second-longest in the United Kingdom, after the River Severn.


The Hike currently comprises four different competitions, each of different lengths and following a slightly different route. The competitions are identified below.

Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II

The Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II was a multinational celebration throughout 2012, that marked the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952. The only other time in British history that a monarch celebrated a Diamond Jubilee was in 1897, when Queen Victoria celebrated hers.

Discontinued events

Routes and checkpoints

Hike route summary Three Towers Hike - route summary.jpg
Hike route summary

The hike does not prescribe a specific route for hikers to use. It publishes a series of checkpoints from which a navigation exercise will deduce the best route to take. In most cases there is usually one obvious path, however, there are some sections where a choice can be made by the navigator.

Purley on Thames village in the United Kingdom

Purley on Thames is a village and civil parish in Berkshire, England. Purley is centred 3 miles (4.8 km) north-west of Reading, 1 mile (1.6 km) east of Pangbourne, and 22 miles (35 km) south-east of Oxford. Consequently, the Reading urban area is the principal social, economic and cultural centre for the people of Purley. Historically, Purley comprised three separate manors and associated settlements, these being Purley Magna to the east, Purley Parva to the north-west, and La Hyde, to the west. In the centre there is an historic area named variously Lething or Burley (Domesday) which accommodated traders and craftsmen alongside the main Reading to Oxford Road.

Pangbourne village in the United Kingdom

Pangbourne is a large village and civil parish on the River Thames in the English county of Berkshire. Pangbourne has its own shops, schools, a railway station on the Great Western Line and a parish hall. Outside its grouped developed area is an independent school, Pangbourne College.

Goring-on-Thames village and civil parish in South Oxfordshire district, Oxfordshire, England

Goring-on-Thames is a village and civil parish on the River Thames in South Oxfordshire, England, about 5.5 miles (8.9 km) south of Wallingford and 8 miles (13 km) north-west of Reading. Goring has a railway station on the main line between Oxford and London. Most land is farmland, with woodland on the Goring Gap outcrop of the Chiltern Hills. Its riverside plain consists of the residential area, including a high street with a few shops, public houses and restaurants. Nearby are the village's churches – one dedicated to St Thomas Becket has a nave built within 50 years of the saint's death, in the early 13th century, and a later bell tower. Goring faces the smaller Streatley across the Thames. The two villages are linked by Goring and Streatley Bridge.

Event records

Records [1] do not include times before 2003.


Fastest Team09:134 Years in the Making (63rd Reading)2015
Fastest All Female Team11:03Jenny and the Pacemakers2014
Fastest Individual (Full team didn't complete)11:04Callum Godding (63rd Reading)2010
Slowest Finishing Individual19:07Andrew Harvey, David Marshall2010


Fastest Team06:20It's all Callum's Fault (63rd Reading & 1st Finchampstead)2014
Fastest All Female Team09:30Team 121 (Loddon District)2007
Fastest Individual Female07:20Charlotte Judge2014
Fastest Individual (Full team didn't complete)09:01Ryan Guerin2011
Slowest Finishing Individual14:49Steven Milan, Jessica Paine2003


Fastest Team05:54The Royal Academy Of Callum (63rd Reading & 1st Finchampstead Scouts)2013
Fastest All Female Team07:46No Name Yet (1st Reading YMCA Scouts)2011
Fastest Individual (Full team didn't complete)08:48Tanita Webb2010
Slowest Finishing Individual12:18Kieran Tarry, Graham Mott2010


Fastest Team04:13Alexander Smith, Sam Moors, Dylan Jealouse, Joshua Taylor (1st Finchampstead)2014
Fastest All Female Team04:46The Muppets (1st Burghfield and Sulhampstead)2012
Fastest Individual (Full team didn't complete)04:51Mark Mills2003
Slowest Finishing Individual12:06Annie Jackson, Joseph Knight, Lee Dickinson2010

Jubilee Plus

Fastest Team03:14Fiona Judge, Simon Hasler, Helen Hasler2013
Fastest All Female04:40Samantha Sale, Jenny Whitfield, Tracey Hand2013
Slowest Finishing Team06:27Dawn Garlick, Wendy Polden, Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, Jan Honey2013

Marketing and branding

The Three Towers Hike has adopted the Scout Association's branding style including the use of the SerifBlack font family in Scout Purple and Green. Its self-developed i.Hike brand has raised the event's visibility and is now recognisable as part of the hike's identification.


The Three Towers Hike's tagline is "Outdoors, Challenge, Adventure". This was created to convey the core values of the competition.

See also

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