Day 1’s short route of 10.5 km with 665 mtrs ascent and 260 mtrs descent.
Day 1 was planned to be a short one as I wasn’t expecting to get into Okehampton until the afternoon. This plus an early sunset occurring at around 1600, prompted me to plan a short 10 km leg to ensure that I would get to the planned campsite in daylight.
This proved to be a good thing, in that I managed to avoid being out in some particularly bad weather and it gave me time to properly attach the inner tent to the outer tent. This was incorrectly attached after my last walk to Snowdonia! More practice needed here I fear!
Dartmoor is such a different experience from Wales or the Lake District. It is more wild, has less in the way of tracks to follow and with that, a lot more potential freedom to explore. You really get the feeling that you are out in the middle of no where!
The route had been planned in such away that I would be visiting the parts of the moor missed on my previous two walks. Even so, I still ended up visiting places that I had been to before. It was great seeing these places under completely different conditions.
The weather on Day 1 started off ok then got progressively worse in terms of fog, rain and a cold driving wind. I have never really done cross country walks off a track in such conditions, but never the less, I found the whole experience very invigorating.
The day almost ended in disaster when I fell over with camera in hand when my right leg disappeared into a particularly deep bog. The camera took on so much water that the display on the back had stopped working. I was hoping that the rest of the camera was still working, so continued to take photo’s, albeit blindly, in the hope that the camera was still capturing the images.
I went to bed resigned to the fact that this might be my first walk undocumented by photos.
Luckily I had a plan which was to pop the camera into my sleeping bag when I got to bed. I figured – correctly as it turned out – that the heat of the sleeping bag would dry out the camera and restore it back to its fully working form the following day.
I found the whole thing particularly ironic given that Robin at http://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/ was just talking about water proof cameras before I left!
Anyways, enough of this whittering! I will let the pictures tell the story!
Although all my Dartmoor walks have started from Okehampton, they have all used different entry routes onto the moor. To prevent myself getting embarrassingly lost in Okehampton I practice the town part of the route on Google Street View before hand!
As I start to climb out of Okehampton and on to the moor, I take a look back and see an odd shaped rainbow. This is a good sign that rain will be incoming!
The army areas of Dartmoor are plastered with very sobering signs like this one….
Headed towards the first Tor called Row Tor. By this stage, the overall visibility had dropped, the rain had also started and to top it off the winds were notching it up a gear. I guess this is ‘situation normal’ on the Northern Moors!
One thing that continually amazes me about compass work, is how often the compass points one in a completely unexpected direction. I’m not sure if this is because I lack some sort of spatial awareness, or whether this is a common issue under foggy conditions. It does highlight how easy it is to become disorientated without the proper equipment!
On route across country to West Mill Tor. This is the first time I have been on the moors in poor conditions – it seems that I have been very lucky up until now! The weather really focuses the mind when walking the cross country sections.
For some reason this part of West Mill Tor reminds me of the Road Runner Cartoons! Beep Beep!!!
I climb the rocks of West Mill Tor to get a better view, but alas, with the fog there isn’t really much to see.
The recent rains have ensured that the moors are even more boggier than usual. Lucky for me, my boots are completely water-proof!
Passing a boundary stone whilst headed across country to intercept the track to Dinger Tor. The going is pretty tough with the bogs and grass tussocks providing significant obstacles to movement. I can see why the Army train here!
Finally I intercept the track to Dinger Tor. I’m now less locationally challenged than I was!
Dinger Tor in all its glory! In the background the sun makes a rare impression on the landscape.
Down below from Dinger Tor is Lints Tor. This is the main navigation point to take me to the final camp spot for today at Kneeset Foot.
This is either the result of some very creative golfing or an expended army flare!
Despite having water proof boots, I still get my feet wet. I don’t know what it is about Dartmoor, but on every visit, I make at least one mistake and put a leg into a deeper than expected bog! The result is water pouring in over the top of the boot. In this case it also damaged the camera that I was holding at the time. Luckily for me it was only the display and this repaired itself when I put it in my sleeping bag overnight to dry out.
I finally get to Lints Tor. From here on in I’m taking photos blind as the display on the camera has stopped working. I’m not even sure that the photos are being taken as there is no evidence of this. However, I continue to take snaps on the off-chance that the rest of the camera is working and kind of resign myself to the possibility that this could be my first walk with no photo trail
From Lints Tor I can see my camp spot for the day by the stream. What’s more, the fog has lifted enough to allow easy navigation there!
This photo really highlights the nature of the grass tussocks on the northern moor. Of all the places I have walked, walking here is by far the toughest proposition and really takes it out of you.
On setting up camp one of my first tasks is getting the water and filling all water bottles. I always filter all my water with a Drinksafe Travel Tap. The way I look at it is that one cannot afford to get ill when hiking solo. Also, a filter allows one to top up from some really unlikely sources like muddy puddles!
The Akto Tent set up and ready to go at Kneeset Foot. For some reason I’m always impressed about the levels of comfort that a single person can carry around with them!
I had got to the planned camp spot about an hour earlier than planned. I had considered pressing on, but in the end I decided to stick with the plan. I was glad that I did as the heavens soon opened up with heavy rain. There is something comforting about being sat nice and cosy in a tent whilst the surrounding countryside is experiencing bad weather!
The camp location for day 1 is Kneeset Foot, just around the corner from Kneeset Nose where I camped on my previous walk on Dartmoor.