Well dear reader I am back .............. back from a great long weekend and some brilliant hiking across the hills and vales of a wet and windy Dartmoor.
Yep, out on the whiny windy moors, that good ol Kate Bush song Wuthering Heights was on a mental loop playing in my head most of the time and was very fitting. The weather was very much the windy wet weather you'd expect on the moors - sadly the snow had melted so it was sodden under foot but alas such is life.
According to a local (bit of a nutter in my book) the weather was balmy - as 70 mph winds buffeted me around the Tors ...........nothing worse than being buffeted around the Tors I might add! Ok I may be slightly exaggerating as the winds never got that strong (but close) the weather was however not something to be taken lightly and easily bad enough to kill the unprepared .... Mountain exposure is a real and constant danger people and I point this out just in case my one reader decides to pop down the Moors in a pair of shorts and a snazzy cotton T-shirt ............ and yes I even saw one chappy hiking in Jeans so not really that much of a stretch.
Anyway I digress - the weather was typically Moorish - typically February and typically British!
Now here's a interesting observation, as I have a Scandinavian reader somewhere, the British moorland strikes me as very similar to the Swedish or Norwegian Fjells - in fact the thought struck me that a Fjellduken's camouflage would blend in very well around the Moor's hilly rocky Tors. Wikipedia even states --( A fell (from Old Norse fell, fjall, "mountain") is a high and barren landscape feature, such as a mountain range or moor-covered hills. The term is most often employed in Scandinavia, the Isle of Man, parts of northern England, and Scotland. )
So there you go - I could have been hiking across Sarek just as easily as Dartmoor. Just putting that thought out there ............. LOL! The rocks themself (i am reliably told) are Granite and are also made up of Feldspar (a soft component) and Mica and Quarts (hard components) they were formed 300 million years ago and for 50 million years have been on the surface of the moors ..............
So the trip itself was great, hiked across several Tors (theres are the rocky outcrops at the top of hills) following a simple route out and back again - the weather wasnt hard on the navigating, no fog or low cloud and on the Saturday we even had, dare I say it SUN! Yes, Sun! I noticed several locals, panicked at this fiery orbs glow, sacrificing sheep and other unlucky animals to their dark Moorland Gods in the vain hope of warding off evil spirits but personally I found it a pleasant change - and I certainly enjoyed my squished corned dog (corned beef btw we English dont eat Dogs not knowingly anyway but what the food industry do is a mystery to us all) and sweet pickle sandwich all the more for its charming company.
A odd fact about the trip was that I had badly underestimated how much water to carry - I have no idea why as I usually plan for 2 litres a day per day but friday night the well simply ran dry. Fortunately the rain just kept on falling so I rigged up my basha to collect the water, and a few pine needles too (yep was in a pine forest) within a couple of hours I had 3 litres of water - all of which I boiled for those who are interested but in honesty it wasnt necessary. Had the weather been dry that might have proven a costly over sight however the Moors are disected by streams and the forestery block where I was on this occasion at least had a nice lake at the bottom of it. Water is heavy but worth its weight in gold when your thirst.
Apart from this everything else was ok - food wise it was fantastic and I compliment the chef ......... I reheated it expertly lol ......... One item that did impress me again was my ld LK70 that sack just seems to have grown onto me, its so comfortable I almost forget I'm wearing it. I'm planning on doing Mont Blanc or the TMB for my 50th birthday and keep thinking of buying a new sack but honestly I really cant see the point in changing it .......... A DILEMMA for another day.
OK so enough waffle - in summary Dartmoor is great, weather is Moorland weather i.e plan your trip for the season that suits you - there are wild camping areas interestingly so for the hiker this makes things a little more interesting both in the logistics and the route and always a lot more flexibility if tempered with common sense.
Personally, I will definately be back on the Moors and look forward to seeing them in every season.
I hope you enjoy my ramblings here ............ and if your still awake - heres a few pretty pictures ............
My plan isnt to write a travelog - the route, I dont plan to share as I'd like to use it again and dont fancy sharing any of my stealth camps with others, all I will say is Dartmoor has a lot of potential for the outdoorsman and bushcrafter - the only way to experience it is to get out there yourself and explore.