At 4:34am, Sunday 3rd November, I probably should have been asleep. Instead, I was driving my Dad's car in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales, dancing along to Smooth Radio UK, battling the hail hammering my windshield, windows rolled down, on the hunt for explorers to catch.
I'd like to think Escape was good training for joining the SAS one day; we were using the OS map to plot likely routes and locations explorers would take, stalk them, then ambush them. By the time night fell, we also became adept at searching for tiny flashes of light in the distance (although most of the time these were actually disgruntled sheep,offended at my full-beam headlights.)
For their part, the explorers were also mini-Marine Commandoes (although perhaps not mini in stature, since they were all taller than me...) They showed great skill at not turning up where we were waiting to ambush them, running away faster than us, and covering long distances in super-speedy times. I think our catcher teams had a bit of a tortoise-and-hare moment when we stopped for a cheeky hot chocolate and cup of tea at a tea room, thinking the explorers would take ages, to find they'd managed the 10 mile walk in an afternoon.
I was most impressed with the Marine Commandoes resilience when the weather decided it wanted to join in the game too, around Saturday afternoon. What had been a beautiful morning descended into cold, persistent rain. Nonetheless, in our Settle base, the explorers dried their socks above the kitchen hob, shook out their coats, added another hoody, and off they went again. When we met a group at Horton Railway Station (4°C, heavy rain, slippery roads) they were remarkably upbeat, happy and still determined to win. Sadly the weather did get the better of us in the end though.
The roads also tested my driving experience to the extreme. I can now add to my repertoire: three-point-turning without taking out a dry stone wall, driving across the narrowest bridge in England and parking in the middle of the road, plonking the hazards on and leaping out to catch a nearby explorer group.
Escape was certainly the most sophisticated, most exhausting and most cunning game of Hide and Seek I've ever played. And for as long as there are explorers willing to subject themselves to 24 hours at the hands of the Yorkshire weather system again, I'll gladly do it all again!
Scouty and Guidey Love,