Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Dartmoor - bloggers' weekend

Well, I think it was a success. Good to meet up with faces, old and new. The rain could have been worse and at least it didn't rain all the time. In fact, Saturday evening was so nice that I returned from the pub after only one pint to enjoy the view from the tent! Yes, tent. A last minute decision for me was not to take my tarp but, instead, my new Wild Country Sololite. It was good, easy and quick to put up and kept out the rain on Friday night. I probably won't use it again now until the winter as the tarp will suit me me better for the summer months.

A few minor bits of kit were bought on the way down in Bristol - an Exped Dry Bag (XXS) to keep dry bits of kit like 'phone, GPS, Palm, car keys, etc. and two Source 2 litre water bottles.
Saturday was spent with John Hee on a circuit taking in Lints Tor and Fur Tor avoiding paths wherever possible and just following compass bearings across bogs and leaping across streams. No good having Goretex lined boots if they go in bogs over the tops! Still, it was a good day in good company.

Here are some photos.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

LEJOG schedule

I can't really get my head round this. I know that I'm not due to set off until early April 2009 but the detail of it is not falling into place. As far as Cornwall is concerned, I had thought of just ploughing up the middle until I get to Devon. After all, I've walked the South West Coast Path before and, although I'll do it again one day (as it, and the beer and pasties, were so good) but it's so up and down and in and out. On the other hand, I might just be tempted to dip in and out of it.

The other thing that's testing me is looking at the schedules of others who have done the walk. Their routes are all neatly planned in advance so that, at before they even start, they know where they are going to be at the end of the day on each date. I'm not sure that's for me. I'm no novice at multi day hikes and what I've tended to do is, if the weather is good and I'm feeling fit, to go on until perhaps the light fades and then look for somewhere to spend the night (usually wild camping). It's amazing how unfussy I can get about the quality of a pitch if it's getting dark! On the other hand, if it's raining, I might want to stop early. At the moment, I'm not necessarily intending to find a proper campsite at the end of each day, although I will take an exhaustive list of sites with me so that, at a given point, I'll know where the nearest site is.

However, I'll need a food parcel once a week so I'll need to know where I'm likely to be each weekend. The route is largely planned in outline (apart, once again, from Inverness northwards). Northern Scotland is so vast and empty, I'm not sure that I want to spend days floundering around cussing my lack of navigation skills. Perhaps better to stick to an eastern route which isn't so remote.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


Just got back from a weekend in Rutland - a birthday outing. Not walking but in the campervan on a delectable site at Whissendine, north west of Oakham - Greendale Farm - I can thoroughly recommend it. Just fifteen pitches and "adults only" (no, not what you're thinking - what it means is no kids cavorting around disturbing the peace).

I didn't get any walking done, although took the bike on a very pleasant 10 mile circuit. Nevertheless, Rutland appears to be a potentially good area for rural walking. I see that Andrew McCloy's eastern LEJOG route passes through Oakham. However, I must get next year's LEJOG done first and that won't be taking me as far east.

What seems to be a compulsion for me is that whenever I'm out walking or on the bike, I cannot help looking to either side of the path or road for potential wild camping spots - very sad.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Peak District

Just come back from a great weekend in the White Peak area. Drove to Youlgreave, leaving the car in a secure location there. The basis for the weekend was the John Merrill Challenge Walk, about 25 miles - a challenge if done in a day but otherwise a very pleasant circuit for a weekend. The official start and finish point is Bakewell but no reason why it has to be there.

We (that's Frank and me) pointed ourselves towards Monyash, where we stopped for a pint at the The Bulls Head - shows how long since I've been there - it was called The Hobbit previously and the name was changed 16 years ago, although I assume it was The Bulls Head before then. It was raining by then and our route took us to Flagg, Taddington, up Monsal Dale in pouring rain, over the viaduct to the campsite at Park Farm. A good little site with decent facilities. The evening was spent in The Packhorse at Little Longstone.

The next day we diverted from the Challenge route and headed north to Cressbrook, stopping for a bacon butty and tea at Katie's Kitchen at Wardlow Mires - a welcome break. Then via Foolow to Eyam, the old plague village, and a pint at The Miners Arms. After that, we dropped down to the River Derwent and climbed up to Froggat Edge, an exhilarating walk along the edge before cutting across to spend the night at the Eric Byne Memorial site, just above the Robin Hood Inn (yes, we went there). The site was good although the facilities were quite basic. The setting is superb though. There must have been about thirty or more youngsters on a D of E weekend there and it was an amazing sight, on Sunday morning at about 5.30am seeing them packing up. The only sound was them rolling up their survival bags and packing away. I don't know if they were under orders not to make a sound but it was very impressive.

Keeping our distance from the DofE kids

After breakfast, a pleasant walk down through Chatsworth Park to the tearoom at Edensor, meeting friends who'd come along just for a day walk back to Youlgreave, with more rain in the last hour before getting back to the car.