Monday, 30 August 2010

Dartmoor - Sunday and The Curious Incident of the Fox in the Night-time

When you go to bed under a tarp you do not want, or expect, the night to be eventful. Last night was certainly eventful. At 2.15am, I was awoken by a loud noise. It was then repeated a few times but less loud. After a moment's thought, I knew what it was. When I sat up and looked around, my suspicions were confirmed. A sunflower spread box that had contained my last two slices of porridge cake was missing and it was being bounced along the ground. Shining my torch around outside, I saw two eyes looking at me from a short distance. I put my shoes on and went to investigate. In the light of the torch beam, I saw the box with its lid off, a fox's mouth shaped piece taken out of the box and, a few feet away, a fox staring back at me. It then disappeared and I went back to bed, wishing I'd thought to have my camera with me.

Thinking the fox might come back to raid the two bags I had with some food in, I stuffed them under my backpack which I was using as a pillow, and went back to sleep. A while later, I was rudely awoken by a tugging beneath my head. Turning my torch on, I saw the fox running away and a piece taken out of my polycryo groundsheet. What to do then? I had thoughts of keeping guard and not sleeping for the rest of the night. In the end, I decided to stuff the food bags inside my sleeping bag, hoping that my scent would mask that of the food. Either that or I might find the fox trying to share my sleeping bag with me! I was actually asleep again in no time and the fox didn't return. I think he was used to finding bits of food left by picnickers as this is the first time such a thing has happened in the nine years I've been using a tarp.

Our first stop after walking for about half an hour was at the excellent village shop at Postbridge where we had hot drinks and bought pasties for lunch. Our route then took us north by Roundy Park and Hartland Tor up to the Grey Wethers Stone Circle, where we had a brief snack stop, each of us sheltering from the wind behind a standing stone. Then on via Sittaford Tor, Little Varracombe, Whitehorse Hill and then Hangingstone Hill, where we stopped for lunch in an army shelter. It was raining by now so the cover was welcome. After that, it was more moorland walking, passing by Oke Tor and then back to East Okement Farm.

Clapper Bridge at Postbridge

Road bridge at Postbridge

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Dartmoor - Saturday

Last night's pitch was quite idyllic. We weren't disturbed at all by the six D of E girls camped just a hundred or so yards away and out of sight.

We were away at 9.30, retracing our route of yesterday for the first half mile before bearing east and then south east down to Fernworthy Reservoir. From here, we went directly south to stop at the Warren House Inn for lunchtime refreshments.

Long Stone

Across the road we joined the Two Moors Way for a short distance, then taking a path through a wood called Soussons Warren, then a bridleway across pasture land by Cator Common. A lane then access land brought us through gorse down to our wild pitch by the East Dart River by Bellever Bridge. A lovely day for walking, not too hot. The other side of the river is popular with locals for a day out but they've gone home now.

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Saturday, 28 August 2010

Dartmoor - Friday

A little rain overnight and woke to a misty morning. It soon cleared, however, and we were ready to start walking at 9.30. We went north from East Okement Farm for maybe half a mile with Harter Hill on our right before heading east on a good track down to Cullever Steps, where we turned north to make a wide sweep around Belstone Common rising up to our right. We crossed the remains of Irishman's Wall.

After all the rain of the last few days, we had to expect wet paths and boggy bits and, in this, we weren't disappointed. All three of us were wearing trail shoes - very comfy but the wet went straight in and, fortunately, straight out again. This was repeated a number of times during the day. Nice not to have blisters though.

We saw what to us was a strikingly unusual and beautiful bird which co-operated while we took photos. I think it may be a wheatear but I'm not sure. The photos don't actually do it justice.

Scorhill stone circle
Teign-e-ver clapper bridge

Friday, 27 August 2010

Dartmoor - Thursday evening

Pitched on a farm just south of Okehampton with a couple of Backpackers Club friends. I was originally planning to come yesterday but the weather has been so atrocious down here so we delayed the trip for a day. The mist has come down over the moor, it's rained a bit but now quite calm.

The plan is that we'll have a couple of days walking before meeting some other Club members at Bellever who will be walking south to north over Dartmoor over the weekend. The weather is set to improve (hopefully).

It's good to be out camping again.
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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Glyme Valley Way

I felt the need to get out for the day so headed for Woodstock, the start of the Glyme Valley Way, a sixteen mile walk to Chipping Norton -  The weather forecast was for rain but, apart from a couple of brief, heavy showers which I sheltered from under trees, it was a fine day. I last walked the Way a year ago and was able not to repeat a couple of minor navigational errors from last year. It really is a lovely walk, not demanding from an ascent point of view but the countryside is superb with lovely villages and an excellent pub in The Crown at Church Enstone.