Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Backpackers' Dartmoor weekend

A turnout of around a dozen. The first night's camp was on a site behind the pub where we were scheduled to meet. A good carvery meal and a couple of pints of Courage Best stoked up the fires for the next day's hike. The walk was across the A30 on to Dartmoor via Great Nodden, Nodden Gate and then to a wild camp in a depression just south of a bridleway SSW of Great Links Tor. Three of us stopped there for the night and others went on, presumably to find somewhere better but that's the last we saw of them! Our stop was good enough with a decent water supply nearby. It wasn't that cold but having eaten, we retired to our respective shelters (me to my tarp) around 7.30pm. It was a cloudy evening with no moon so it made sense to get into sleeping bags. It was my new bag's first outing (Mountain Equipment Xero 350). I was impressed with it, certainly warmer than the one it replaced. I think I could still be cold in it on a colder night. One reason may be the fact that I had the tarp open at both ends so inevitably it was going to be affected by this. I think as winter comes I must pitch one end (the foot end) down to the ground. This will certainly keep rain out. I'll also try shoving a fleece top or similar down to the bottom of the bag and wrap my feet in it.

Much of the evening was nicely spent listening to Outdoors Station podcasts (from the CD that came with a recent TGO magazine) covering this year's Challenge across Scotland - well done Podcast Bob (of backpackinglight.co.uk fame) and Andy Howell. The sound was very good - so much so that I heard a cock crowing in the background and took my earplugs out, thinking that the sound was from outside in the middle of Dartmoor. Next day, I found that one of the others had also been listening and was alarmed to hear the sound of running water which he thought was outside his tent.

Up early next morning after some nine hours sleep (three more than I'm used to) and we set off, past the Bleak House ruin, heading back towards Sourton Tors. I left the others to go down to Meldon Reservoir and back to the pub to leave for home. A really good morning's walk to cap a great weekend.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Beacons day walk

A friend found he had a weekend free of domestic ties so he and I headed for the Brecon Beacons on Saturday for just a day walking. We parked the car in the Blaen-y-Glyn car park at GR550175 and headed up along Craig y Fan Ddu to the junction of paths above Cwm Cwareli and then to Fan y Big, Cribyn and Pen y Fan. Lovely clear views. Down then above and to the west of Upper Neuadd Reservoir and down a very steep rock strewn path to Lower Neuadd Reservoir. The route back to the car park was by the edge of Taf Fechan Forest and then a short stretch of road and by then it was getting dark. An exhilarating day.

New sleeping bag

I've just ordered a Mountain Equipment Xero350 bag - recommended as being lightweight (700g) and warm (down to -5C). I'll be taking it to the Backpackers Club meeting on Dartmoor next weekend and hope it's suitably cold to test it properly. Will report back on this.
It was a choice between this bag and the PHD Minim 400 but, as standard, that comes without a zip but the zip adds £24. Weight wasn't, therefore, a consideration but I got an excellent price on the ME from gear-zone.co.uk , 25% off RRP. Can't be bad.