Dartmoor - Wild Camp

Dartmoor is a sacred, magical place. You find a truer side of your self there.

Land of the floating skull and the sinking walker

It's hard to work out where to start with this one: a British summer, silly accommodation, bog snorkelling, floating skulls, crunchy bits or Kung Fu....

The plan was to take advantage of the August weather and head off to Dartmoor to give Jack his first experience of wild camping (as opposed to that highly sanitised, squeaky clean camp site camping with toilets) so Jack, Tav and Dave H set off down a stop-start M5 on a Friday afternoon to the northern edge of Dartmoor. The weather forecast was dodgy but looked like it was due to clear and, right on cue, as we pulled into the car park in the village of Belstone, the heavens opened.

After a few minutes, the weather cleared and we set off with our bulging packs full of gourmet food. The showers came and went but the main concern was the ever increasing wind which was pushing us around and we hadn't even left the valley yet.

We were aiming for a tor called Lints Tor for the night but decided to bag the high spot of Devon by going via Yes Tor. A windy slog ensued but we were on army tracks for most of it so going wasn't too tough other than puddles and the fact that we had forgotten that carrying all your camping gear made you slow....

The showers were coming and going and whilst Tav and Jack donned waterproof trousers, Dave decided to try his rain kit instead. As you can see - designed to work with shorts not trousers (Dave would like to point out his top was full of wind not belly):

Having reached the top of Yes Tor, we were promptly blown off, so tried again.

Here's 6 seconds of wind noise (and remember we were sheltering in a crack at the top of Yes Tor at this point):

It was becoming increasingly apparent that camping on top of a tor would simply result in our equipment being blown away so we changed tack and headed down to a valley to camp at the quaintly named Sandy Ford. Whilst the campsite was flat and dry-ish, the rest of the valley was a collection of bogs and floating moss mats. We only realised this when Dave simply disappeared into one up to his waist. His rain kilt wasn't much use - perhaps a full length version might have helped. At the campsite a father and son were setting up their wild camp - also the son's first but he didn't look very keen (and once he got in his tent we didn't see him again).

We of course laughed at their ridiculous amount of kit and proceeded to set up our ultralight kit. Paul and Jack slept under a sheet (technically a tarp) and Dave crawled into a bin bag (technically a bivi):

Next up was tea time - largely a disaster as we failed to add enough water to our 'delicious and tasty eat from the bag' meals. After a while the other hikers asked if we could keep the noise down of us crunching on our rice and pasta. Whilst we waited for the water to boil we obviously had a go at some kung fu. If nothing else it helped Dave dry his trousers.

And here's a picture of Tav looking slightly maniacal

Whilst the wind was weaker in the valley, the fine August weather was still looking dodgy so we quickly headed to our palatial accommodation as another shower ensued. A quick tot of whisky to celebrate a good day and then a good nights sleep was had by all.

Day 2 dawned with slightly better weather and after another meal in a bag (with more water this time) we packed up and headed off. The other hikers didn't stir.

The plan today was to loop back via some other tors and a slightly longer route to the village - hopefully in time for a pub lunch.

Dartmoor lived up to all the stories as Jack was mysteriously followed by a strange floating skull for most of the day that we named Edith....

We meandered back over various tors slowly getting closer to civilisation before a fine pub meal and a beer. Then back to the M5.

All in all about 25k over 2 days.