Day 4’s short 7.6km walk with 113 mtrs of ascent and 295 mtrs of descent. (click for a larger version of the image)
Day 4 was designated as a ‘spare day’ so there wasn’t much in the way of walking to do. It was also the day that the Okehampton Army range went live – this had affected my route planning a fair bit. Had it not gone live I would have headed Northward much further West than I had. On the day I got up fairly early and was eager to find out who the visitors were that woke me up the previous night…. As usual I’ll let the photos tell the story:
I awaken on the last day to a cold morning – hence the down-jacket. I was rather curious to find out who the overnight visitors were…
When I open the tent up I can see the visitor’s rather large tents. I had a chat with some of them, but they weren’t too forthcoming as to what they were up to in the middle of Winter. Their tents had MoD markings, so I’m guessing they were Army Reservists? I know that when it came to packing, their rucksacks were huge! – It looked like they were carrying a lot of equipment.
Despite getting up a lot later than the other hikers, I manage to pack up everything very quickly. In fact I’m ready to go whilst they are still packing. I guess the routine that I have got into over the years has made me very efficient at breaking camp. As usual I leave the ground how I found it – spotless!
It’s now a case of following a track down the side of Belstone Tor – part of which can be seen up ahead.
Navigationally speaking today would be very easy. Most of it is on track and very familiar ground, so there is no need for the map or compass today.
Here I am headed Northward up the track that follows Belstone Tor.
Just before I loose sight of my camp spot I take a look back. It looks like the other group are now ready to go!
The track walk is fairly boring, though there are some good views. My pace is extremely quick – I guess that I found this a lot easier than the gruelling cross country walking of the previous day.
The track is now perceptibly heading downhill. I’m not following this track all the way to the end as it goes to Belstone. Instead, the plan is to hang a left cross country once I clear Belstone Tor on my left.
The edge of the Moor has now become very apparent. As usual I always seem to feel a little down on leaving the Moor. I could really have done with another day or two of walking, but alas, I didn’t have enough holiday left.
To my left the ground starts to open up. This is my signal to turn left cross country and head Westward. The plan is to handrail the boundary wall to the North in a Westward direction until I pick up the track to Okehampton.
The going here is much better than the tussocky terrain in the North Moors. It’s flat enough that I can still continue a rapid pace.
*Zoom On* To the South a Red flag flies as the nearby Army ranges are now live. This doesn’t really affect me as my route is taking me off the Moor.
As I head West I pick up this track. It does ultimately lead to Okehampton, but when it veers away from the boundary wall on my right I will leave the track and continue handrailing that wall Westward.
Here I have left the track. Down below is the East Okement River which I will be following all the way into Okehampton. I just need to continue heading downwards until I intercept the main track to Okehampton.
A quick selfie before I leave the Moor! Behind me is Belstone Tor.
I soon pick up the main train to Okehampton which can just be discerned up ahead in the distance.
This is the third time I have walked this track, so I know it very well. The intent is to stay on it until I spot the main crossing of the Okement River on my left. Then I will shortcut the track and head straight downhill toward the bridge.
*Zoom On* There is the crossing point! Time for a quick dash downhill!
I get to the bottom ready to cross the bridge. The rest of the walk is on a singular trail called the Tarka Trail that will take me through a small forest then on to Okehampton itself.
*Zoom on* Before I enter the forest I take a close look at the Tor behind me. There is a group up there hiking along the ridge. I wonder if this was the group that I was camped with earlier in the morning?
I’m now deep in the woods following the trail Northward.
The trail essentially follows the East Okement river much of the way which makes for a fairly scenic walk.
This wall marks the half-way point in the forest. Just past the wall is a small footbridge that I will need to locate to cross the next stream.
I love this bit of the trail as it takes one very close the river.
I’m soon across the East Okement River and I’m now on the final descent into Okehampton. I can tell I’m getting nearer to civilisation as I’m starting to bump into people.
The sign marking the transition from the country side to the urban outskirts of Okehampton. It looks a little worse for wear compared to the previous year that I encountered it.
I’m now headed into civilisation – the end of the walk is near
I don’t know about other hikers, but I always feel a little self conscious when I enter an urban area with all my hiking kit on – especially if I have been out for a few days. Up ahead is the main street. I just need to hang a left there to walk to my bus stop.
I spot my bus stop in the distance where the red bus is parked. I’m quite early as my pace had been a lot faster than anticipated. As a result I decide to pop into a shop to buy a pasty and a pie 🙂
The bus stop and the end of the journey. I really enjoyed this walk, even if it proved hard going on day 3. I really want to go back to Dartmoor as there are many Tors that I missed on this walk which I really want to visit. As a result I might get a walk in early in 2015.
That’s it for the last journey of 2014. Tune in next week for my annual year-in-review! Laters RobP