Thursday, 3 September 2009

Backpackers Dartmoor weekend

Two consecutive weekends backpacking! Now that is really something (for me). The meeting point was Ivybridge station. The park and ride car park was overrun with travellers' caravans so I wouldn't have wanted to leave a car there. Just two of us (me and Martin) started the planned jaunt from there. The idea was to spend three nights wild camping and finish at Okehampton on Bank Holiday Monday.

The weather started fair and we were on to the moor within fifteen minutes or so. It started to get a bit showery and it was quite windy. At our first night's halt, we met up with John who had arrived and pitched a couple of hours earlier. We were at SX667670 where there is a good stream for water.

Saturday's weather was fair and sunny most of the time, as forecast. Our route took us over Ryders Hill to Hexworthy where we stopped for a pint at the Forest Inn. Then on to Dartmeet where, in the car park, we came upon what had been a dramatic scene. A fire engine was still there. It seems that a car had caught fire whilst parked, spread to the one next to it and destroyed it completely. The vehicle on the other side was also badly damaged down one side.


We walked on alongside the East Dart River and on to Belever where we pitched by the same river further north. On the way down, I'd come across a dead cow amongst the ferns and gorse. A farmer came by later and I offered to go back up the hillside with him to try and find it. I did so eventually but only by going up above the gorse level and locating our entry point and endeavouring to come down the same way. Having worn shorts all day, my legs were covered with red specks where the gorse had scraped them. At Belever, four more Club members joined us (Howard, Ray, Louise and Nigel).

Next morning, Sunday, was wet and stayed that way much of the day. We went through Postbridge (where there is an excellent village shop) and then took a very cross-country route northwards and stopped for lunch to the east of Fernwood Forest. We then headed east on a virtually non-existent path to Little Varracombe. By now it was quite misty and very wet underfoot (and me wearing just trail shoes). We went over Hangingstone Hill and sheltered for a while behind a concrete shed built by the military who train around here. It was very windy!


On from here, yomping through some very wet and boggy bits. In the fog, we lost Martin and John, who went on to camp at Small Brook. The rest of us camped by East Okement River at SX607934 - good water and plenty of room. During the evening, Howard's orange survival bag flashed past me into the river. He then had a challenging time retrieving it with me, camera at the ready, to catch the moment when he might fall in the river. Unfortunately, he didn't.



We then went our separate ways on Monday morning.

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