Just got back from 3+1 days on Dartmoor. Below is a map of the route I took:
The above route wasn’t the originally planned one. There were a number of issues on Day 3 trying to ford various streams. It seems that many of the streams were running at a much higher capacity from when I have previously encountered them. This resulted in a lot of on-the-fly-replanning as I sought to make my way Northward.
In many respects my navigation on the Moors had evolved due to my enhanced knowledge of the area from my previous three walks there. I found that for the first time I recognised most of the Tors and features that I saw.
And it’s not just recognition; Because I have walked these areas in the past, I also had a mental map of the surrounding terrain even where I couldn’t see it. As a result, I think the compass only came out twice, despite the fact that a lot of the walk was cross-country. This is a first for me!
Below is the elevation graph for the walk:
The elevations aren’t that big, especially when compared with Scotland, but elevation doesn’t tell the whole story…
I can safely say that Day 3 of the walk was the most gruelling day I have ever done. I was so fatigued on making camp, it even took around a minute just to work a toggle on the tent!
It was the nature of the terrain in North Dartmoor which really sapped my energy. It was continuously boggy with very deep tussocks. This makes every step a difficult one. For me, this type of terrain is by far the most difficult I have ever had to walk on!
Weather wise I was quite lucky on the whole. There was rain and hail, but also a lot of sunshine. Nevertheless, despite the sun, it was bitterly cold throughout the whole walk.
The only real difficulty I encountered with the weather was the wind. It was quite strong and seemed to be blowing in from the North, so I was battling against it most of the time. I found this rather surprising given that the prevailing winds in this area are normally from the South West.
As for the kit, it all held together rather well. There were two surprises though…
First up is the vacuum flask:
I wouldn’t normally buy one of these, but MountainWareHouse sent me a freebie. I was curious to see how one of these would fit in with my standard hiking routine. The answer is ‘rather well!’
It fits directly into my hard-shell’s pocket which meant I could drink hot drinking chocolate during my snack-out rest stops. This was most welcoming in the cold weather.
Next up are the hiking poles:
I was in two minds whether or not to bring them at all. In the end I compromised and decided to bring one, but on Martin Rye’s recommendation I took both at the last minute.
I’m so glad I brought them. Many of the streams I encountered were running at over capacity. Due to their currents I couldn’t see the bottom of these streams. These poles came in handy to determine depth and find the shallowest point across.
They also helped steady me on the slippery rocks, especially when the currents were doing their best to trip me up.
I can safely say that without them the walk would have been a lot different than it was.
As a result of my experiences, they are now classified as ‘mandatory’ items of kit rather than just ‘optional’.
One other mention should go to the Water-To-Go bottle:
The Water-To-Go bottle put in a sterling performance during the walk, despite the rough handling I subjected it to. There will be more on this bottle when I write up the review in the future.
Stay tuned next week for the write up on Day 1 of the walk!