Monday, January 22, 2007

ah, the great outdoors.....mind that hole.....bugger.

Well, that didn't exactly go according to plan.

Day 1: Train from Bristol to Exeter, bus from Exeter to Okehampton, all on time, no problems. We headed out of Okehampton up the East Okemount river valley onto the moors - as soon as we got above about 250 metres it started to drizzle, but that was hardly a surprise. Up onto the moor proper we turned off up past Rowtor and West Mill Tor up towards Yes Tor - very windy and wet by this time which hampered our progress, but we made it eventually. It was almost impossible to stand up by the trig point at the top of Yes Tor (619 metres, 2031 feet) but we clung on long enough for a couple of photographs and then headed off south towards High Willhays. The summit here (621 metres, 2037 feet, the highest point on Dartmoor, indeed the highest point in England south of the Peak District, where by a strange coincidence I'm off next weekend) is on top of a big flat rock which you have to scramble up onto - having done this we headed off sharply as it was starting to get dark.

By the time we got down into the West Okement river valley where we were intending to camp it was pitch dark (we had torches, fortunately). We discarded the idea of trying to camp in Black-a-tor Copse as it was very rocky and all a bit Blair Witch Project at that time of night. We managed to find a flattish area to camp in (roughly here), got the tents up, had some food and then went to bed (it was about 9pm by this time).

Unfortunately the weather was getting worse - the tail-end of the storms that had wrecked a cargo ship near Sidmouth (a few miles to the east). Most of the night was spent sitting inside the tents trying to hold them up while the wind and rain tried alternately to batter them flat and rip them out of the ground.

Day 2: After the pounding we'd got during the night, things had calmed down a bit by the morning, in fact there was just the hint of a few rays of sunshine (scant consolation after a night with no sleep). So we packed everything away and set off.

The plan was to head for Princetown, about 10 miles to the south, but it soon became apparent that we were progressing a lot more slowly than expected. There were a couple of reasons for this: the torrential rain during the night had made the ground very boggy, and Andy had fallen in a hole while scouting for camping spots the night before and twisted his leg, which had stiffened up badly during the night. After a bite of lunch and a crisis meeting here we decided that we needed to try and get off the moor before Andy stopped being able to walk at all, so we decided to head for the nearest road, which turned out to be here, still about 4-5 miles away. We dosed Andy up with some Nurofen and several large slugs of port and brandy from my hip flask and set off.

Luckily there was some mobile phone signal so Andy was able to phone his sister's boyfriend to arrange a pick-up. Even more luckily, Steve heroically and selflessly agreed to delay his dinner and come and get us - if he hadn't, we'd have probably had to walk another few miles to either Lydford or Mary Tavy to try and find somewhere to stay. Steve dropped us off at Taunton, from where we caught a train back to Bristol.

So.....not quite the triumphal march into Ivybridge on day 4 that we'd planned. Can't be helped - we'll go back and do it again some time. Give it a few weeks for all the gear to dry off, though.

Anyone who's been keeping up with the mobile blog will notice I've nicked the two images here from it - we'll collate all our various photos shortly and I'll post a link.


electrichalibut said...

Multimap links are now fixed. No idea what went wrong, but suffice it to say it wasn't my fault. Which could be the title of the post, really.

Andy said...

I've uploaded my pics to the Everblog Gallery ... feel free to blag them!