Viking Rally, Autumn 2021

Tim Rodaway (Newcastle Universities Student Scout and Guide Group)

Tuesday 18th of January 2022

SSAGO raided the North East (of England) for Viking Rally, setting up camp at Moor House Adventure Centre and invading both Newcastle and Durham. Over 220 Vikings from across more than 30 different clubs joined us for our weekend of raiding.

As the first in-person SSAGO Rally for almost 21 months, Viking Rally saw plenty of new SSAGO members embracing the traditions brought along by those who remember before the pandemic, from ceilidhs to monopoly runs, from mascot stealing to awards, and of course, asking “Is everybody happy?”.


While Vikings arrived by train, minibus, and longship, we were busy setting up the site and preparing for our evening activities. Our Vikings enjoyed meatballs, potatoes, gravy and lingonberry jam for their tea, before played IKEA and ABBA bingo and battling it out in a quiz. Our last arrival was the SSAGO bus at 1am, only narrowly beating Southampton's second minibus.

People playing ABBA bingo in the marquee
People chatting outside the marquee, lit by a streetlight


After a breakfast of a sausage stottie and hash browns, and a quick rendition of Happy Birthday for Reuben during the opening ceremony, our Vikings boarded the coaches to their morning raiding locations. Most headed to Newcastle with some boarding minibuses to the Beamish open-air museum or one of our hikes along Hadrian's Wall.

Samir and Jack, with megaphone in hand, overlooking the main camping field at Moor House Adventure Centre, full of tents
Group photo of those on the Beamish activity, in front of the entrance
Group photo of those on the Easy Hike activity, standing atop Hadrian's Wall
Group photo of those on the Hard Hike activity, walking alongside Hadrian's Wall

Most spent the morning on the monopoly run, visiting a number of landmarks around the centre of Newcastle. Others went geocaching or to 'spoons for a late breakfast. Everyone returned to Newcastle University campus for lunch which had been lovingly prepared by our catering team & volunteers.

Small group photo from the Monopoly Run activity, of a team outside Haymarket Metro Station
Small group photo from the Monopoly Run activity, of a team outside Grainger Market

The afternoon saw SSAGO split between two cities, a first for a rally (we believe). Those in Durham enjoyed a guided tour of the castle or a café crawl while those who stayed in Newcastle visited the Victoria Tunnels, played crazy golf, went for a stroll on the beach or had a guided tour of the city. Naturally, there was the traditional pub crawl (or three) with the Metro Line pub crawl running all day.

Small group photo of an activity group in the pub
Small group photo from those doing the Viking Weapons Training activity, stood in a range, with an inflatable dinosaur also present

Once everyone had returned to the campsite, we enjoyed a hot meal of pasta bolognese, followed by ice cream for dessert (served by Reuben). This was followed by a ceilidh led by Angels of the North and then a silent disco, described by Jack (Viking Rally’s Logistics Officer) as “amazing”. While this was going on, we also had SSAGO members in Durham for Lumiere, the UK’s largest light festival - perhaps another first for SSAGO, going back into a host city in the evening!

Medium sized group photo of those wearing Viking themed fancy dress before the ceilidh
Wide shot of the marquee with people dancing during the ceilidh
Photo of an installation at Lumiere
Wide shot of the marquee with people dancing during the silent disco, with Southampton's hi-vis shorts being very visible

Once some members had headed to bed, the remainder gathered around the campfire for midnight sausage rolls, prepared by Team Pink. There were plenty of sausage rolls to go round, with spares keeping warm by the fire until 3am.

Wide shot from the back of the campfire arena, looking down to a large group huddled around the campfire
Joe Barnes and his sausage rolls


We kicked off Sunday morning bright and early with reps at 8am. Unfortunately, breakfast was delayed but this meant most people were awake by the time it was served. Since there were no bids for Autumn Rally 2022, the EGM was postponed, leaving Sunday morning as a fairly relaxed time for people to get their tents packed away and play a couple of games of Viking Ninja (using their inflatable axes to help with distancing).

Breakfast underway in the kitchen
A shot from the staircase at the back of Reps, looking down at the meeting

With the rain beginning at the same time as the closing ceremony, we kept it short, leaving clubs to sort out their own forfeits for the numerous mascots stolen over the weekend. Of course we did then manage to quickly squeeze in a group photo before everyone headed off.

A wide shot from the side of the closing ceremony, with all attendees in a circle
A shot from the front on the closing ceremony, looking at the backs members of the rally committee and Team Pink

And just like that, the first in-person SSAGO Rally since the pandemic began was over and done with! Despite some delayed trains and the coach to the South West and Wales coming face to face with a low bridge, everyone made it home safe and sound.

Final Words

The Viking Rally committee (and Bjørn, of course) would like to say a final big thank you to everyone who came to the weekend and a special mention to all those who helped over the event in whatever capacity!

The Viking Rally committee, all together in one place for the first time ever, in front of the campsite sign in the carpark
The Viking Rally committee, plus Samir Soares (SSAGO Chair), Ant Gathercole (SSAGO Events Officer) and Jamie Greenwood (NUSSAGG Associate), in front of the campsite sign in the carpark, doing silly poses

Photo Credit: Oliver Bills, Ben Dickinson, Nick Bond, Katherine Shaw, Callie Lewis, Jess Shire, Holly Mepham, Beatrice Elizabeth, Leon Brindley, Tim Rodaway