Back from Solo 3 + 2 day solo Dartmoor Walk!

So, this is how it's gonna be?

So, this is how it’s gonna be?

The more observant readers will be wondering why I’m back so early….

Well, the answer is quite simple…

For the first time ever I decided to cut a walk short. It was no easy decision, but on reflection I still believe it was the right one.

The weather for the walk was pretty atrocious on the whole, that is with the exception of a few hours on Day 2’s morning. From the off there was plenty of rain. At one point it was cold enough that the rain became snow!

Snow!!! In the middle of North Dartmoor on day 2. The winds were strong, hence the snow flake's rather horizontal trajectories. However, Day 3's winds were even stronger...

Snow!!! In the middle of North Dartmoor on day 2. The winds were strong, hence the snow flakes’ rather horizontal trajectories. However, Day 3’s winds were even stronger…

Rain, whilst problematic, was not the cause for the walk being curtailed. The real enemy was the wind. It was the wind that eventually prompted me to cancel the walk on Day 3.

Day 3 was supposed to be an easy day, one that was planned to be mostly on tracks, that way I could recover from the expected gruelling cross-country walking of Day 2. However, in the event, Day 3 would prove much worse.

I was heading Westward on a track, which should have been easy going, but the wind was so strong that I found it genuinely difficult to make any forward progress. Even breathing was difficult.

I found myself walking for around 10-20 paces, then having to turn so that my back was to the weather to allow me to recover for the next stint. Progress was painfully slow.

The plan was to hike to Princetown, and then from there carry on with section 2 of that day’s walk. However, given my slow progress, and the reduction of my will to carry on, I decided that I would call it a day and arranged for my brother in Plymouth to come and get me.

Whilst waiting, I started shivering and noticed that for the first time, my entire upper body was wet. Even putting on the down jacket did little to warm me. I guess the Gore-Tex Pro finally wetted out after 3 days of abuse :/

Given my lack of will to carry on and the state of my kit, I guess it was a good call, especially as the subsequent day’s weather was more of the same.

When I got back to Civilisation I was curious as to what the wind strength actually was. It turned out that it ranged from 30mph for 24 mtrs elevation to 51mph for 621 mtrs elevation. A lot of Day 3 was at around the 400 mtr mark. So I guess I was getting around 40 mph worth of wind and rain. That would go a long way toward explaining the physical exertion required on the walk!

Despite this set-back, there was one silver liningย from the walk…

I finally managed to meet up with fellow bloggers at Crockern Farm! If you want to know more you will have to tune in for Day 3’s account.

The walked route was as follows:

The 42.3 km walked route with 1560 mtrs of ascent and 1284 mtrs of descent. (Click for a full sized version of the map)

The 42.3 km walked route with 1560 mtrs of ascent and 1284 mtrs of descent. (Click for a full sized version of the map)

With an elevation profile of:

The elevation profile for the walk!

The elevation profile for the walk!

In terms of kit, the Olympus TG-4 Camera put in a sterling effort and proved to be exceptionally frugal with the batteries. Plus as an added bonus, its startup time is exceptionally quick, which helps with my snap-happy style of photography ๐Ÿ™‚

As alluded to earlier, the Gore-Tex Pro didn’t fair so well. I guess there is a limit to how many days of rain that material can keep off. The real test will be to see if they go back to being waterproof when next used, or whether they will wet out straight away.

Either way, I can’t help thinking that I would have been better off with a cheap plastic mac. But that’s a conversation for another day….

Anyways if you want to know more, tune in next week for Day 1’s account!




About RobP

Got into backpacking in the spring of 2012. I started as a couch potato then made my way through walker, hiker and now backpacker! As you can see from below I have far too many hobbies! :)
This entry was posted in Backpacking, Dartmoor, Hiking, Multi-Day Walk and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Back from Solo 3 + 2 day solo Dartmoor Walk!

  1. Martin Rye says:

    Still looking at the map it is a nice line you took Rob.

  2. Robin says:

    No shame in bailing when conditions are bad. Good judgement I’d say.

  3. You made the right decision. The weather was, in a word, lousy. Mostly, not entirely safe. Great to finally meet you and glad you didn’t cut the walk short before then.

  4. Jane says:

    The conditions sounded atrocious – possibly ok if you were dry, but you could risk hypothermia and muscle/joint issues when wet. I’m sure you made the right decision, Rob. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. JohnBoy says:

    At this time of year you generally have to be prepared to change your plans when weather makes it a misery. After all we do this because we enjoy it, and the there’s little enjoyment in being cold and wet day after day. Good call. By the way, do you carry a bothy bag during the winter ? I find they make a great difference to staying warm when resting during the day.

    • RobP says:

      I tend to carry a down jacket for that purpose. Normally I unpack it, put it on, then it’s instant warmth! The downside is that it only has a pertex coating, so I can’t really use it in heavy rain.

    • Steve H says:

      I was just typing a comment to second the suggestion of a bothy bag as your down jacket wouldn’t keep you warm long in torrential rain, but I recall when you really needed emergency shelter in the Lakes you just pitched your tent – much more homely than a bothy bag and means no need to carry extra weight!

      • RobP says:

        Yes – The tent is always the greatest protection. It’s good knowing it’s always in the rucksack, the ultimate get out of jail free card. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • JohnBoy says:

        Fair point Steve. Must admit I tend to take a bothy bag mainly on day walks when it makes a great shelter for lunch stops, really quick way of staying warm. Mine’s a silnylon one & weighs less than 200g, so I sometimes take it to double up as a groundsheet protector on overnight treks.

  6. Richard Pope says:

    Cold – and wet? Better to bail ( no pun intended! ) Right choice…and the year is still young.

  7. jake1963 says:

    Dude. Bailing isn’t failingโ˜บ

    Don’t forget that we’re supposed to be enjoying the experience; it’s not SAS selection. A few years ago, I was camped on Foel Drygarn on the first night of a two-nighter. The wind got up during the night and I didn’t get much sleep. The mist and rain were well set in when I broke camp the next morning. I trudged along the ridge for a few miles but I couldn’t see anything through the mist so I sacked it and walked back to New Quay.

  8. treksandtors says:

    Blimey, was wondering how you’d got on, as you say the wind has been constant down here for the last 3 or 4 days now. The gusts would have been up in the 50s and 60s easy up on the exposed bits. Wise move to stop when you did and plan it that way so you can stop if you need to.

    • RobP says:

      I can remember thinking if it was this bad at 400 mtrs on a track, then at 600 mtrs cross country on the Northern moor it would have been impossible. Still, my parents were pleased as I got to do a flying visit ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Pingback: 2016 – A Year in Review | Uk Backpacker

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