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Thread: Dartmoor weekend

  1. #1
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    Hopping off the train at Ivybridge its a short walk to the edge of Dartmoor national park, there's even a sign to tell you you are there.

    Since this trip was my first venture onto Dartmoor and I was carrying new kit and more weight in the pack than I'd like I wasn't expecting to go far in before trudging back. The weather forecast was sunny/overcast with a small chance of rain and temperatures 15 degrees or thereabouts.

    I started out with a full water load as I couldn't be sure what state things would be in without much rain for a while.

    The first thing that struck me was how chuffing warm it was. Coupled with the incline and the pack weight I got nice and sweaty with the walk up to a nice stone road called Two Moors Way.

    Despite the sweatiness the Berghaus Argentium base layer dried out in the breeze once on the flat in a few minutes. Time would tell if the fabric would get smelly. The stretchy Craghoppers took longer to dry everywhere

    Despite giving the hydrapak bladder a good rinse or three and clean the water was tainted by a yukky rubber/chemical taste, from the bite valve I believe, yuk.

    Anyhoo I plodded along the track, up to the top of whatever hill I passed to have a look, adding some distance and getting sweaty again in the process and checking water supply points for my next venture. Needless to say there were plenty of sources, the downside being cows, horses and sheep everywhere to add flavour.

    Because I started late on the moor I didn't get far before it was time to consider pitching for the night. Spurrels cross I chose, not far from a spring west of Ugborough Beacon, less likely to be full of animal waste. Made some spag and cheese on the Trangia and boiled up for a cup of tea. Brilliant, no tea bags, idiot. Warm milk isn't the same.


  2. #2
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    Pitched the tent and since the cloud cover was 8/8 I made my nest and got my head down after using the 4g data signal which managed to find me for some internetting. Woke by a stampede at some ungodly hour. Must travel through the ground a ways because it went on for ages.

    Up bright and early after a good nights kip, and made some porridge and honey washed down with cool water, much nicer than tea...not.

    Quite a few people trundling around but I took my time, packed up and walked the stone road a ways going up and down, following the stone lined tracks that seemed to go straight rather than following the contours. Generally having an explore but ending up only 7 or 8k into the moor at 3 Barrows, 461m up.

    Time was against me so needed to head back for the train and walked along the western edge of the park finding interesting places I'd missed on the way up.

    Lovely weather, if a little warm for going uphill, and dry which is nice. I managed 26k looking around a small bit of the moor, but have good overview of the area I'll be setting off through the next time.

    PS the Berghaus doesn't smell

  3. #3
    Initiate zero's Avatar
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    Seems like a good time on the Moor, thanks for posting. Lots more to explore for next time, esp north moors which is more rugged and lots of non tourist spots to find!

  4. #4
    Mini Goon
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    Done this walk a few times now, September is definitely to warm for my liking, especially ascending up the approach. Camped on three barrows and sharp Tor before, nice part of dartmoor and somewhere acessible to get away.

  5. #5
    Initiate Toot's Avatar
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    You've been blessed by the warmest September weather "since records began" according to the BBC. I'm not sure who's records they mean, but it sounds like you had a gentle introduction to Dartmoor in autumn, weather-wise. It's not always like that! I recall being there a few times during the wettest September on record and that certainly wasn't the same experience you found... All part of the fun though!

    Can't believe you didn't try your bladder before using it in anger. Finding that equipment isn't quite right on the moor can be irritating (or a real problem) and it is possible to check things out beforehand - like wether or not you have teabags for example! The principle of checking things before you set off can be a useful one to bear in mind.

    Glad to hear you had a good kip. Sounds like the bug may have got you. I first got infected by it in 1970 and haven't stopped going to the place yet. There must be something about it as a hobby if it can keep a chap amused for 40-odd years. There's plenty to explore and if you head in the right direction you'll soon find people are thin on the ground.

    Enjoy


  6. #6
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    Ah yes, testing kit. After cleaning the water tasted OK, not fantastic but OK. After a few hours sitting in the bladder the water was OK still. It seems the bite valve taints the water when its between slurps. My previous camelback showed none of this behaviour so my preparation was based on that. You live and learn. I'm not sure what I can do about the bite valve, its clean but tastes yuk. Might have to return it.

    Certainly weatherwise I was lucky, cold is fine but rain can make your day miserable esp if its cold too. I'll be up on the moor at regularly so I'll get all the weather at some point.

  7. #7
    Widdler
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    Good trip report. What was stampeding so early in the morning?

  8. #8
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    The stampeding? Well I guess it was horses, there seem to be plenty about, lots of cows too and sheep. I didn't look outside as I imagine if they were close enough to see and running about all of us would be surprised, shocked or panicked ! Sounded like horses too, although my talents don't extend to knowing the difference between horse and cow running only as far as recognising horses.

    I'll write up future Dartmoor excursions, I have a longer trip planned for the end of this month and I might get up there next weekend.

    Thanks for all your responses


  9. #9
    Initiate Toot's Avatar
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    Stampeding - that's a good point... I've seen gripes about man-eating midges but there may be 100,000+ sheep, over 30,000 cattle and more than 5000 horses grazing Dartmoor according to DNPA, so that "wildlife" isn't hard to encounter either.

    I have never taken an attack by a Monty Python type carnivorous sheep too seriously as a risk. IME sheep like to keep a respectful distance away, if look at you with some disgruntlement in doing so.

    In over 40 years of wandering, I have never been threatened by Dartmoor ponies. I respect their space, especially those with young, and a fair percentage seem to be either the type used to humans who feed them and thus tend to be inquisitive, and the rest are mostly the ones that keep their distance. The only "stampede" I ever caused was by appearing without the horses noticing my arrival, so I now make some noise when approaching from down-wind so as to let animals know I'm about. By historical genetic make-up the horse is an animal that has been hunted by others, so can react with panic in fright if surprised. Mutual respect works wonders it would appear.

    Cattle ain't necessarily so friendly or timid. They're big lumps to mess with, so don't! With some distant experience of farm life I have recognized wild-grazing shaggy dark-red Highland cattle with their slightly amusing fringe and less amusing handlebar horns, the copper-coloured and rather friendly South Devons, Devon (or "Ruby") Reds, Belted Galloways with their distinctive white banded middle who can be a bit fidgety and don't necessarily give ground, and those bloody grumpy Welsh Blacks whom I regard as the most likely in-yer-face yobs of the Dartmoor cattle world.

    I recall being threatened to the point of anal puckering just three times in my hiking life, with the most memorable challengers being Welsh Blacks. They were dangerous incidents and aren't funny even now. I was once charged by a territorial bull who didn't want me on his side of the river (my fastest, most-undignified and wettest river crossing was the result). Another time a group of fly-troubled Welsh Blacks decided they were coming my way to escape with a hop-skip-and-jump and occasional flailing hoof. I didn't get struck, but it's no fun if such an excited mob pounds by. The walking pole held before me like a rifle and bayonet didn't feel at all like guaranteed protection... If irritated - and they seem the most short-tempered sort - Welsh Black cattle are scary. The Belted Galloway incident was the most recent and came when a female and I chatted our merry way into the middle of a group across a path with young, brought to our attention by a not-very-friendly approach from an irritated male. Reverse gear is useful mark of deference to develop - don't turn and run.

    What I'm wondering, is if anyone else has had an unpleasant animal encounter hilst hiking in the UK, and if so, from what breed of beast? I certainly pass on my mistrust of Welsh Blacks to companions, just in case... Do any hiking farmers, zoologists, or thankful escapees have any breed idiosyncrasy awareness or safety tips to pass on in relation to livestock encounters in the wilds?

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