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Thread: Planning to MTB wild camp on Dartmoor

  1. #1
    Widdler
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    Hey People.My girlfriend

    planning our first trip wild camping by mountain bike on Dartmoor for sometime in october. There are a list of things I could do with some help with. I have bought a load of camping kit, a couple of mountain bikes, pannier rack, bags etc. Some help with where to go, how to use a orienteers compass would help and places we can cycle to and wild camp etc. Please help.!

  2. #2
    Initiate Toot's Avatar
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    No doubt there are many better than me to tell you about mountain biking on Dartmoor. I use a cyclocross bike and stick to roads and tracks, preferring not to go on the moorland itself due to the long-term damage a bike can cause as is evident in some popular mountain biking places.

    If you want to learn how to use a compass and map, the Ordnance Survey (OS) website link may help;. http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/reso...ing/index.htmlThere are also scores of videos on Youtube. The best OS map to suit your aims is Outdoor Leisure map OL28.

    If just starting on these adventures you could do worse on the North moor than try the military ring-road, found by going onto the moor from Okehampton army camp. It's an uphill road slog to reach but the rugged ring-road itself is somewhat kinder and rough enough to call for MTBs, has lots of ups and downs, and there are gravelly diversions with some good views and wild camping places close by. It's easily found on a map and there's a bit about it on this link;

    http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/ring_road.htm

    Be aware that parts of Dartmoor are used for military training with live ammunition. Before any trip, you should know where the ranges are and which are being used for live fire exercises because entry to those is then prohibited and distinctly dangerous! This and other useful info can be found from study of the Dartmoor National Park Authority website; http://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/aboutus

    You'll have lots of new experiences to learn by if just starting this lark and some will be more agreeable than others. In my experience of taking others there, I'd suggest learning bit-by-bit rather than over-extending yourself and trying to experience all the challenges first time out. Enjoy.

  3. #3
    Widdler
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    Thank you for your feedback, will have a good study of the links you have sent.

    Kind regards

    Velz

  4. #4
    Initiate
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    Excellent advice from Toot!

    Don't forget that generally, you have no rightto use a bike on the moor unless on a publicbridleway (long green dashes on map, not the short ones). Having said that, some bike up the disused railway line to Redlake, in the middle of the southern moor. Although not a PROW, it's a stone-surfaced track and you won't do any damage - and I very muchdoubt anyone would complain. Starting near Ivybridge, it's a good long run, too, getting you right into the heart of the moor, from where you might walk somewhere from a camp? There's no running water to speak of there, so be prepared to carry it, or fetch it from nearby streams, or possibly out of the flooded works if for cooking etc. The two smaler pools would be best.

    Note that 'lake' on the moor means stream, not lake, but the flooded works have become known (wrongly) as Redlake. The name Redlake is actually the stream to the south of the works.

    Enjoy!

  5. #5
    Widdler
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    Thank you Rob.

    We will certainly do our very best not to detour onto the moors, we have a good respect for all green spaces and would not like to see them destroyed or play part in any of its destruction

    The disused railway line sounds like a good trek and if there are bridal passes on route thats very helpful.

    We intend to spend for 4 nights travelling around the moors hoping to camp each night in a differnt places along the way. If there are some areas where we can camp and near a water supply that we can get to by bike please advise.

    Kind regards

    Velz




  6. #6
    Initiate Toot's Avatar
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    The OL28 map tells a wonderful story if you know how to read it Velz, and I strongly advise you get one to study now because a lot of the things you'll want to know are shown by its mysterious squiggles. The sooner you learn to decipher those, the better off you'll be every time you're even thinking of going on the moors, trust me. If you don't know what the map says then you'll just stumble from one potential pitfall to the next. Maybe you'd get away with it, maybe you wont...

    We can offer many suggestions from our experiences but every one could be wasted because we can't read your mind and we don't know your capabilities or desires, so may suggest something too easy, too hard, or simply not what you're looking for. That's even more likely if I have no MTB experience (and I don't!). I cycled 62 miles on Saturday (cyclocross bike), but to do that on Dartmoor would have taken me more than twice as long, perhaps four times or even longer... As for you on a MTB, I have no idea. Not a clue.

    Apart from those present unknowns, Dartmoor has a way of presenting things to make you make your own decisions, like it or not, capable of doing so or not! The sooner you can do that, and can decide beforehand what you want to happen and then make it occur rather than have to react to whatever else is happening instead, the better off you'll be again. And your girlfriend will be well impressed if you're in control rather than floundering about wondering what to do next! Getting them lost does not endear you to the ladies so far as I can tell...

    The websites I mention are useful sources of info for walking mainly (also this one;http://wreckstorm.com/richkni/dartmoor/index.html) but I think you really do need to first form an idea of distances, gradients and road/track types for the MTB part of your trip as you relate to them, not anyone else. That means you need to recognise what the map is telling you, not rely on being told what I think it's telling you in my opinion. Same goes for anyone else unless they know you. The distances should be easy to work out. As for gradients, could you compare the map contours of an interesting area of Dartmoor, with those of a MTB route you already know perhaps? The hiking part, if new to you, should be kept to a minimum if you aren't confident in planning the MTB route I reckon - no point walking off then being unable to find your way back to the bike!

    Self-sufficiency is a wonderful thing. May as well start now...

  7. #7
    Widdler
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    Thanks again Toot.

    You have definately given me a lot to think about. I have ordered the OL28 already, just waiting for it to arrive in the post, will defo put a lot of time in studying it before we venture off anywhere. We will be driving from London and plan to find a sencible place where we can park the car, unload the MTB's, set up the panniers etc. To be on the safe side I will be plotting my position in the navigator, as a last resort means of finding the car again..

    We were only planning to cycle 15 to 20 miles per day for two days, making our way back over the same route over the next two days at a slow pace to enjoy the landscape along the way as it will be our first time on Dartmoor, stopping each evening to camp and moving on again the next day giving us a chance to hone are newly found map reading and compass skills and limit our chances of getting lost.





    We are out over the weekends and most evenings on the bikes trying differnt terrains, hills, rain, wind and dark etc although there isn't anything that we can use to compare with Dartmoor mostly as we have never been there.



    The kit we will be carrying, some of which I realise only now its started arriving by post is a little bulky, tho some of which I will replace in the near future once we have an idea what to expect from Dartmoor. For example, Highlander Munro 400/4 season sleeping bags (huge) fat sleeping bags that I managed to stuff into one of the panniers.



    Self inflating sleeping mat which rolls up a lot thicker than I thought it would..these I will replace either before we go or when we get back from the first trip.

    2x Vango compact stoves, might replace with the Jet-boil if they dont perform, karrimor elite 2 tent and footprint, karrimor hiking boots, thermal undies and socks, waterproof outer layers, fleece jumpers, padded jacket, gloves, first aid kit, emergency foil blankets, small tent light, bikes have enough light to illuminate a football pitch. Spare batteries, powerbank charger, food for more than the length of our trip (just in case) 3 water bottles strapped to each bike, mobile phones, water filter and purification tabs, small tarp, flint and steel, spare innertubes, repair kit, bike tools, maybe even a couple of spare tyres, compass and map, everything but the kitchen sink..

    Well we are new to this and have a lot to learn as you know. I guess things will get better the more time we put into it and as time goes on



    Best regarss



    Velz








  8. #8
    Initiate Toot's Avatar
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    Plenty of good gear advice in these pages to make use of. Not sure it'll all be applicable to MTB travel though. Anything that serves a dual purpose would save travelling weight, which has to be a good thing. It's not unusual for the first-timers to take too much gear - you'll soon learn what you need and what can be left behind. I wouldn't say I travelled as light as possible but, as you have already recognised, bulk can be a more immediate problem.

    I'm a happy user of Exped VentAir compression sacks. These have an insert that allows huge compression of squishy things without a build-up of internal air pressure like a balloon as can occur with other stuff-sacks. My Mountain Equipment synthetic bag will compress to half the size ME claim in one of the Exped sacks, which makes for a very useful space saving in the pack. They're not cheap though. No doubt there are others which will do the same thing for less cost and perhaps someone will be kind enough to mention them here.

    You might find this MTB related info useful in respect of Dartmoor planning.

    http://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/visiting/...rtmoor/cycling

  9. #9
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    Velz, suggest cut down on weight as much as you can.I doubtyou really need 3 bottles on the bikes unless tofill up before your camp away from water?

    Do you need a tarp and a tent AND foil blankets? If you bike on soft ground, the laden tyres will really cut into it. You may consider this: where you have a legal right to ride the bike, do you have a moral right to cut up the ground? I'm not preaching, just suggesting it's something to think about.

    Re bridleways, there are several marked on the map as ruler-straight lines, maybe 3 - 4 km long. That alone should warn you - no-one walks or rides in straight lines across open country. Unless there is a black dashed line under the green one, it is unlikely there is an actual path on the ground.

    Another thing - do you HAVE to ride every day, or might you camp say at Redlake and spenda day walking around the area, with a small sac? What is more important, to blast over the miles, day after day, or to enjoy the whole? Do you want to feel wrecked at the end of the it, or to have had such a great time that you both want to repeat the experience, pushing yourselves as experience grows? Can you find routes where there is a bit of roadwork too, linking off-road bits?

    It sounds a great plan tho and I hope it goes really well.

  10. #10
    Goon
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    Done one many years back and started from the East Dart pub/inn that had taken us way over to an American WW2 Bomber crash site and back. Was OK and very easy and not extreme in the slightest of rides. But we done this all within 1 day. This was from a book they sold in a shop near the pub.

    Has Rob says though's Bridleways marked well there was nothing there! I had to imaginary draw the lines into the landscape a couple of weeks back.

    Regarding using waterproof sacks, i always roll mine up from the bottom to push out the unwanted air bubble.

  11. #11
    Initiate Toot's Avatar
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    Velz, I was whizzing along part of the Dartmoor Way yesterday when I realized I'd forgotten about it, if you see what I mean! So, a couple of mentions in relation to the cycling side of things (though remember my direction is cyclocross not MTB).

    Not sure where you're coming from, but if arriving by train at Plymouth the Drakes Trail (http://www.drakestrail.co.uk/)will take MTBs to Tavistock on a good track. From there Easterly and North-Easterly routes across/to the moor by road, MTB or foot are numerous.

    The Dartmoor Way (http://www.dartmoorway.co.uk/home.php)is an around-Dartmoor "ring-road". It has a link across the middle through Princetown, the road hub of the moor, via a few routes. This route links with Drakes Trail and could, for example, take you from Tavistock to Okehampton where there are some useful ways to get onto the moor with or without MTB. I think that area may have the most dramatic vistas for first-time visitors on foot. The map (Ordnance Survey OL28) would give pointers to the same.

    Also at Okehampton (often spoken about as Oke - pronounced "oakey" - in the locality), is the Granite Wayhttp://www.drakestrail.co.uk/pdfs/cy...graniteway.pdf Despite the internet title, this trail is really an extension of the Dartmoor Way (or National Cycle Route 27 if you like). It is flat, skirts the moor, and offers a few entry points onto it with effective short-cuts to them from Okehampton station at one end, or Lydford at the other, plus points in between. It is possible to go on-road from Oke to Meldon, Sourton or Lydford, or to walk across the moor, but the cycle route is a shorter and easier hop between these places on a bike. As well as being handy routes on foot to access points to the moor, they are also useful as escape routes from the periphery to civilisation if the weather turns shitty. Incidentally, it may be possible to arrive at Okehampton station by train via Exeter,but do check the timetable as the Okehampton end of the service has been a bit "odd" in recent times.

    Finally, a couple of links to bridleway/MTB routes based on Princetown as food for thought;http://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/__data/as...eaflet2011.pdf

    and

    http://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/__data/as...le-leaflet.pdf

    I'm not going to say much about these, other than that they're permitted MTB routes in a lovely and exposed upland area of Dartmoor and they're popular with users on MTB - and in places that shows.


  12. #12
    Mini Goon
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    Dry sacs. At all costs keep your sleeping bad dry.

  13. #13
    Widdler
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    Thanks guys. Again plenty of good information. We will be driving from London leaving around 5am on the 27th of this month. Was planning to park the car in Princetown and cycle the Burrator route and camp the first night on Sheeps Tor. Not sure as to where to go from there as yet, so I will take a good look at the routes provided by Toot. Have cut down on the gear that we will be carrying and replaced some of the heavier gear. New list as follows. If ive got anything wrong, please advise.

    2-3season sleeping bag, compact 800g good down to 5c, self inflating sleeping matt 735g, Karrimor elite 2 tent 2.6kg, thermal sleeping bags liner not sure on weight but very light, vango compact/micro stoves 95g, small lightweight pot set (cup and pot). Small stove windshield, coleman 250 gas x2, flint and steel plus a lighter, first aid kit, head lamp, dd ultralite tarp, OL28 map and compass, Sawer mini water filter, 2 bike water bottles, one for dirty one for cleaned water, 2 bikes with panniers, small tool and repair kit. Lightweight waterproof jacket and trousers, spare dry warm clothes set, dry bags for anything that shouldnt get wet, warm jacket compact, hiking boots as we will do some walking, camping knives, food, rubbish bags, hygiene kit. Thats about it..

    If any of you guys are planning to be up on the moors around the same time as me, would be great to link up. Thank you all again, for all your help and I will post my full route when I have finalised the details. Velz


  14. #14
    Mini Goon
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    I suggest you make a list of everything you take so it can become your check list for next time. This may prevent a debacle such as forgetting the tent pegs etc..

    In summer, sunscreen and insect repellent are vital. In cooler weather take gloves and a hat. Dartmoor weather may be benign or ferocious or anything in between. Heavy rain may make it impossible to cross rovers safely. See the section "The weather" on this page:

    http://www.tentors.org.uk/challenge/the-history

    One gas cylinder should be enough for a short trip; weigh it to make sure it is full.A lightweight collapsible can opener may be useful.

    You can practice navigation by using map and compass on local trips. I once use my compass to navigate the Bull Ring shopping centre in Birmingham.




  15. #15
    Widdler
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    Thanks Adrian. Still learning the navigation skills. Been wathching videos on youtube, some are ok tho Im still not sure about a couple of things so still working on it. Will defo be taking hat and gloves as well as thermals just in case there needed.

    Velz

  16. #16
    Mini Goon
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    Don't forget trowel, loo paper, alcohol gel.

  17. #17
    Widdler
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    Need to order a trowel as I dont have one, nice one for reminding me.. as for the other stuff, got that in the hygiene kit.. Thanks again Adrian, I would have been digging poop pits with my spoon otherwise haha.

  18. #18
    Widdler
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    Adrian. Quick question.. whats the can opener for? Wasnt planning on carrying tins..?

  19. #19
    Mini Goon
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    if you don't take the can opener and you do take some sardines it costs you a missing lunch. If you do take the can opener and don't take any tins it costs you 10 grams.

    Once, Ibought a titanium frying pan. Eager to use my new purchase I headed up the hill. I discovered that instead of oil I had brought salt. But the sardines were canned in oil. So I ate fried sardines on the summit of Moel Siabod.


  20. #20
    Widdler
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    I had thought about some tinned foods, but everyone seemed so against it due to weight issues. Thought of emptying them into foil seal bags to make them a little lighter, but now you mention it I love sardines and well they dont weigh much after all so I think a couple of cans will go in the bag along with some other goodies. Defo dont want to hungry at any point and if ive got to carry it one way or another whos to complain.....

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