It’s All Navy Baby

Navy Cadets hitch-hike 150 miles for charity


UoB’s navy cadets have managed to hitch hike 150 miles back to Bristol in a charity race on land that was as wild as their battles at sea…and a good deal more bizarre.

Fifteen navy cadets completed the epic journey from Cornwall to Bristol with no money, completing a range of challenges along the way.

Photo: Adam Sales

After a big military ceremony in Padstow on Saturday, getting Bristol students back to uni was proving tricky for organiser Sean Vanstone.  The solution: a hitch hike back to base, which tested all the skills the cadets had trained for.  “I fancied doing something different,” says Sean.

The University Royal Naval Unit (URNU) is a scheme run by the Navy to expose uni students to life at sea.  The local unit has 60 members from Bristol, Bath and UWE, divided into three divisions. Teams of five from each raced back to Bristol by some very unusual means.

“The rivalry was quite intense,” says Sean.  “One team got a lift from a police car, with blue lights flashing and running at 120mph down the motorway.”  A ferry and a fruit and veg van also made appearances, and, he comments “one team also came very close to hitching a ride in a police helicopter.

“They would’ve succeeded, but the flight was cancelled at the last minute because of the weather.”

Photo: Nigel Boulsfield & Elouise Kjellstad

The challenges ranged from riding in an ambulance, to getting hold of some Somerset cider, to blagging a free ride at Diggerland, a theme park.

“Finding a donkey to feed was quite difficult,” says Lian Mizrahi, leader of the winning team.

Word of their exploits spread quickly, and one team finally got a lift after an announcement was made on Pirate FM, asking drivers to help any Navy uniform-clad wanderers they might meet in the countryside.

Each hitch hiker was also given a ‘travel companion’ – a painted egg that they had to keep intact.  One team scored a ride in a brand new Porsche, but two members managed to crush their eggs in the squeeze.  “They just sat there the whole journey, completely silent, leaking egg,” says Sean.

“I was pretty apprehensive about the whole thing,” says Lian.  “It just shows how much you can do in a day with no money and the generosity of good people.”

But Jasper Bone, leader of the losing team, Somerset, who didn’t quite manage all the challenges, is a lot less pleased.  “Our priorities were different to the others –  they focused on getting back but our priority was raising money.  I’m not sure if we raised the most money, but we had the heaviest tin.  That’s all that matters: the weight of the tin.”

So far the URNU have raised £725 for the Children’s Hospice.  Donate now at