Day 2’s 15.8km walk with 491 mtrs ascent and 588 mtrs descent. (Click for full sized image)
Day 2 was a relatively short day in terms of distance. It was planned that way as I knew that the terrain that I had to cross on the Northern Moors is some of the most rugged terrain that Dartmoor has to offer.
In the event it didn’t turn out to be half as bad as expected. This resulted in me getting to my planned camp spot a little earlier than anticipated.
There was an urge to carry on, but I knew that I didn’t have a full view of the overall plan as I was in the field looking at only a small portion of the folded map.
In the end I had to put my faith in the planning process that was carried out when I was back in civilisation. So as a result, I decided to stick to the plan so as to retain the distances and pacing for the subsequent days.
As usual I will let the pictures tell the story….
The view out of the tent on waking up. It’s hot and sunny despite being relatively early in the morning. The pictures are still showing some fogging from yesterday’s encounter with the bog. However, the camera would soon return back to normal as the heat of the morning evaporated all of its internal moisture.
First things first… Breakfast! As usual it consists of Muesli, Coffee, a Scone and a round of Cheese. In my experience this seems to be the best combination to keep me energised in the mornings!
Now that I have eaten, the tent is cleared of all equipment, swept out and then closed up ready for packing.
The first task of the day is to head Southward and climb Fur Tor. This is one of the most isolated Tors on Dartmoor.
After crossing the Cut Combe Water stream I get to start the main ascent up the Tor.
I find that I’m motoring up the Tor due to my fitness. This is a quick look behind me to the North whilst on the way up.
I soon reach the rubble/rock line – a sure sign that I’m nearly at the top!
Not far to go now!
I get to the top and take this photo Northward. Dartmoor’s vast wild grass plains make it very difficult to judge scale properly.
The rocks at the Western end of the Tor.
The signature rocks at the Eastern end. These are the ones that can be spotted for miles around and make a great navigation marker!
In amongst the rocks! I’m the only one here, there doesn’t seem to be a soul around this deep into the Moors.
Another view to the North from Fur Tor’s rocks. I stop off for a snack break and some water whilst admiring the view. There is no real pressure on today’s walk as it has been deliberately planned as a short one as I know that the terrain in this part of the Moors is the most rugged that it has to offer.
Apparently a falcon had made this rock its nest over the years, but there is no evidence of it right now. It would be a perfect spot too, as it provides a large panorama to the North for hunting.
With the snacks eaten I’m now ready for the part of the walk that features the most rugged terrain that I will have to traverse.
The next target is Great Mis Tor which can be seen approximately 6 km to the South here. The intervening terrain is tussock laden bog with many streams. Looking at the map, I determine that the driest route should be the one where I keep Fur Tor directly behind me and Great Mis Tor directly to my front. Who needs a compass when the weather is like this? 🙂
The terrain doesn’t start off too bad, though it is a little boggy in places.
However, there are many cuttings like this one. The trick to crossing this part of the Moor is to stay away from the more boggy areas. In general, these tend to be the areas with the longer darker grasses. As a result I find myself making many micro-adjustments to my route to avoid the worse of the bog.
I soon come across the River Tavy. These streams are a great means to determine exactly how far one has to go on the map.
After crossing the River Tavy I have a short jaunt up a hill. The angle of this photo highlights the height differentials amongst the grass tussocks. It is this that makes this type of terrain so tiring to cross.
Probably too much information, but this walk was one where I ended up having to dig quite a few latrines 🙂 This is one of them after the fact. I pride myself on my field craft and not leaving any visible evidence. The trick to digging these is to use your field knife!
The view to the South West. There is a great feeling of being in the middle of no-where out here 🙂
Great Mis Tor soon comes back into view to aid with navigation. This whole area is littered with pools and bogs like the one seen on the left.
I’m now at the River Walkham, a river that I would have to cross again later on to get to Great Mis Tor. Down below the dark vegetation shows where the deepest bogs are. It’s a case of taking a good look at this vegetation and picking the least-worse route! (Note to self: Is that good English? 🙂 )
Here the River Walkham is quite narrow, so it’s just a short hop across!
Unusually for me I take the rucksack off and sit down for a 15 minute break to enjoy the scenery and solitude. Normally the rucksack stays on at all times.
I’m now rested and it’s time to climb the hill upwards and Southward!
As I head Southward I notice a distinct change in the weather as some grey clouds come rolling in. However, it is still hot despite the cloud cover.
Great Mis Tor is now getting noticeably closer and as a bonus I seem to have left the grass tussocks behind me. The terrain looks much more inviting from here on in!
Dartmoor ponies doing their thing on the Moors. I often wonder how they keep warm at night as they lack the wool that the sheep have and even in April, the nights here are quite cold.
I’m now descending from Cocks Hill down toward my second encounter with the River Walkham. This should be the last stream crossing before reaching Great Mis Tor. The hill just in front of the Tor is Greena Ball.
I soon get to the River. It’s wide enough that I decide to ford it as opposed to using the rocks. The plan being to have a spot of lunch on the other side whilst waiting for my feet to dry off.
The chosen crossing point! Once again the hiking poles come in handy to probe for the best way across.
I get across the other side. The clouds seem to be coming in a little thicker and it’s now quite cold. As a result I decide to towel off my feet and put on my waterproof top and hat whilst having my lunch. In this case I’m drinking Thai Soup with Cheese Oatcakes and a cheese spread.
Now that I have eaten, it’s off for the relatively steep climb up Greena Ball. Sleeves are now rolled down as the temperature has not yet picked up from the darkening skies.
The climb up is quite hard work! This is the view behind me back to the River as I head upward.
Nearly there! Once at the top I should be able to get a direct view to Great Mis Tor, ready for the final ascent.
The view down the valley is quite picturesque. Apparently there are a lot of old settlements along this valley dating back to the bronze age.
Right on cue Great Mis Tor puts in an appearance. It’s now a relatively easy climb up to the top!
The climb upwards is helped by the lack of grass tussocks. I can already see a lot of people on the Tor, which I guess is inevitable given its close proximity to one of the Moor’s main roads.
Here are two Army structures which are presumably there to monitor the Merrivale Range that I had just walked through. This is the only range that will be going live during my walk, though by the time it does go live I will be long gone! 🙂
This is the view Northward back toward Fur Tor which now seems a long way off!
The rock structures on Great Mis Tor are some of the most extensive rock structures on the Moors.
The view from the top looking North Westward!
I decide to climb up the rocks and make my way to the Army flag pole which marks the top of the Tor – it would be rude not to!
The view back to the North from the top of Great Mis Tor.
After reaching the top I clamber down to the rock fields to the South. The intent is to walk to Little Mis Tor then pick up a track that will take me to the B3357 road.
I take a last look at Great Mis Tor before leaving it. What these photos don’t show is the number of people that are here. It’s teaming with families and children out on a day visit to the Moors. This is such a contrast to the quiet serenity of Fur Tor deep in the Northern Moor. It’s on occasions like this I tend to feel a little over-dressed with the large rucksack, map and compass!
Nearly at Little Mis Tor. The main track is just beyond it. This will be the first time I have been on a track since early yesterday!
I reach the track where I find an immediate improvement in pace. Tracks really do make a big difference in this regard. There are many people walking up this track to visit Great Mis Tor and once again I feel a little self conscious due to all the kit that I’m carrying.
The track is a long and winding one, but it is all downhill and it does take me directly to the road that I need. The best thing about tracks is that one can relax with regard to navigation. It’s a case of keep walking until I hit a road. It really doesn’t get any easier than this!
There’s the road and the visitors’ car park. Up ahead in the distance on the right is King’s Tor – my next objective!
There are a few streams between the road and King’s Tor. This is my second visit here and it seems that someone has put down a small footbridge for the first stream. That will save some hassles having to cross!
However, I’m not so lucky on the next stream. On my previous visit I had my heavy leather boots on so just waded across as these boots were waterproof. My current boots aren’t, so I have to go through the rig-a-marole of having to take them off to ford across, despite the relative shallowness of the stream.
The ascent up King’s Tor is relatively easy. There are fewer people here compared to Great Mis Tor, but still many more than I had encountered earlier in the day over on the Northern Moors. I don’t know if it’s my introverted nature, but I much prefer people-less Tors 🙂
I clamber up the top of the rocks on King’s Tor and sit down to snack out and enjoy the great view.
I soon descend down off of King’s Tor to an old quarry track heading Eastward. This marks the final stage of today’s journey.
To the North is the old Foggintor Quarries. I can see many people up there exploring the mounds and having fun!
The intent is to follow this track Eastward until I get to a bridge then hang a right cross-country to head Southward by handrailing the stream that the bridge crosses.
To my right, I can now see the trees that surround the Burrator reservoir. In the centre of the picture are Leather Tor on the left and Sharpitor on the right.
Up ahead in the distance is the bridge marking my departure point back into cross country walking. There are a lot of people here and I got some raised eyebrows when I crossed the bridge then climbed downwards off of the track!
I now follow the unnamed stream Southward. At this point there is a little confusion, as during planning, I had forgotten to mark Day 2’s camp spot on the map. I know I’m roughly in the right place, so I decide to make camp as soon as I find a good spot by this stream.
I find a sheltered and relatively flat piece of ground by the stream. So I take off the rucksack to start the preparations for making the camp for the day.
With the practiced routines that I have picked up over the last three years, I soon get the tent up in next to no time!
The spot is perfect! It is sheltered from the winds, it’s very close to the stream and the ground is flat enough to make for a comfortable night!
As usual the first task after putting the tent up is to fill up all my water bottles using the Travel Tap. This takes a fair bit of time, but when one is out solo wild camping, time isn’t really an issue!
Heading back to the Akto tent from the stream – it’s home from home!
The view out of the tent. I can’t really see much as I’m in a depression by the stream.
Using random selection it turns out that tonight’s meal will be a Chilli-Con-Carne! The only rule that I have to the random selection is that I’m not allowed to pick the chicken curry as this is always reserved for the final night – one of my many quirky hiking traditions!
As usual, the freeze dried food never appears to be up to much before it is reconstituted…
However, with the application of boiling water and a 10 minute wait, one ends up with a very delicious Chilli-Con-Carne!
I made today’s camp quite early as I had anticipated the Northern Moors cross country walk to be more difficult than it actually was. As a result I have a fair bit of time on my hands before sun down.
But alas, my usual way of whiling away the time is dashed by the eBook Reader’s health taking a nasty turn for the worse
However, the sun soon starts its descent to the horizon…
The view Southward bathed in the orange glow of the sunset!
It is now nearly time for bed as I say a final farewell to the sun before it disappears from view.
And it’s good night from me!
Day 2’s relatively sheltered camp spot by a stream on Walkhampton Common.
The night of Day 2 was a cold one just like Day 1’s. I was beginning to wonder if I would have been better off with the Winter sleeping bag, though in the event, these two nights turned out to be the coldest of the walk.
To try and mitigate the cold, I fully closed down the tent, including all the vents. I figured I’d rather be warm with a heavily condensated tent rather than freezing in a dry one!
I soon fall asleep and before I know it the next day is upon me, but you will have to tune in next week to read what happens on that day 🙂