The first Three Towers Hike took place during the 1970's, long before many of today's competitors were even born.
It's origins date back further, with events such as the Four Inns which was organised by Derbyshire Scouts way back in the days of black-and-white, food rationing and national service. A number of people from Reading decided they'd establish their own competition hiking event nearer to home.
In the earlier days, the hike was organised by the then Reading Riverside District (later to become Thameside District after the merge with Reading North, and then Central District after merger with Reading South).
Only a few years have missed an event; most recently in 2001 when Foot and Mouth plagued the countryside and again in 2006 due to non-availability of resources.
In the early days the event was based around the north and west of Reading and covered a route, much of which is now a housing estate on the northern edges of Reading. The hike gets its name from its early days when the route passed three large water towers including Emmer Green in northern Reading. Today, Tilehurst Water Tower is the most noticeable and is the only remaining tower visible on the route!
In hikes of the past, teams joined the event from every part of the country. Like most similar events, it had its peak popularity in the late 1970's and early 1980's when the event saw hundreds of teams. At that time, there was only the main event, though there were lots of classes and categories, some of which are reflected in the trophies we award today.
The late 1980's saw the event's renaissance with alterations to the route to include more rural paths, a move that was repeated in 2003 when a large section od road was removed from the start of the main event and the route extended westward.
The Junior event was introduced in the 1990's for Scouts, who at the time operated upto 16 years. This was immediately popular and in 2003, following the introduction of the Explorer Scout section in the movement across the country, the hike introduced an intermediate Explorer Route, equating to roughly the latter two-thirds of the Senior event route. The 2008 event saw record numbers of Scouts entering the Scout section of the event, this was repeated with even more in 2009.
In 2010 the hike introduced a fourth classification - the ScoutPlus event. The purpose of this was to give older Scouts a personal challenge before they moved upto the Explorer sections. We hope to continue grow and develop this in 2012 and beyond with even more teams.
For 2012 as a one-off, there is also a Jubilee Class (about 15km), to encourage adults who have never participated in the Three Towers to join in and try competition hiking.