Getting Back On The Horse: Part 2 – Dartmoor Bimbles

The plan was hatched, with anxious looks at the weather forecast several times a day. Ok for a couple of days then a brief bad spell at some point over the weekend. It was good enough to book the train tickets. I headed down on the Thursday, with Cath due to follow the next day. This is something I do often, as it gives me a little bit of solo time before the need to be sociable for the rest of the trip.

A train delay due to something up with the windscreen (you couldn’t make it up) meant I missed my bus connection and so could only meaningfully get as far as Okehampton – not the intended Mary Tavy. So I headed up onto the moor the easy and quick way – by means of the road to the military camp, an easy way to gain ascent.

Back on the moor

The new plan was to head south and see how I got on – if it was well, then Fur Tor was my intended camp spot, otherwise somewhere short of that. I used the stony tracks for as long as possible to make life easy for myself, and this got me as far as Dinger Tor just in time for some rain and wind. I was conscious that the last time I visited Dinger Tor, I was also not in good shape, having just that afternoon wrenched my ankle on West Mill Tor. This injury taking nearly 3 years to recover from, and forcing me seemingly permanently out of low cut trail shoes.

Today was better though, but I could see Fur Tor in the distance and knew I didn’t have the time to get there, especially as the work would now be harder across pathless moorland. I settled on a visit to Lints Tor, which would make a good camp spot.

Lints Tor

I’d never visited Lints before so enjoyed the view down the West Okement.

View down the West Okement from camp at Lints Tor

Wind and rain lashed at the tent overnight and I waited for a break before packing up and stepping out. Luckily visibility was ok and it was just rain and wind I had to contend with. I decided to have a go at heading for Fur Tor. A lot of trudging over rough ground later and I pulled up onto Great Kneeset and took refuge at the small group of rocks on the edge of the summit plateau. An attempt to head for the main tor being immediately thwarted as being directly into the weather. Possible to walk but distinctly unpleasant, and I’d not come prepared for prolonged wet conditions. I decided instead to keep the weather on my back and headed for Okement Hill and the sanctuary of the stony tracks taking me back north for my rendezvous with Cath.

I arrived at Okehampton station quite early, so took advantage of the tea room while I was waiting. Eventually Cath turned up and we headed back up onto the moor, conditions having now dried up a bit. It was still windy though, but we were fortunate that good tracks would take us virtually every step to our planned camp spot. We picked up some water and then climbed up onto Yes Tor, finding a spot just to the north of the summit.

Even though we were sheltered by rocks, it was still well breezy and I struggled to get the tent up – this was the first time in over 70 camps with the Scarp that I’ve needed help to control the tent during an erection. Cath’s was much easier (for once!)

Camp at Yes Tor
Sunset from Yes Tor

It was a quiet, but cold, night.

The next day promised some considerable bad weather and we resolved to be off the moor before it hit. After all, with a friend living within walking distance, why would you camp out and be miserable. We packed up and headed over Hampster Tor to High Willhays, which Cath hadn’t visited before. Then with the wind picking up and spots of rain falling we hustled back down the track to meet Paul at the station.

The next 24 hours were spent in the comfort of the indoors. And a good decision it was too.

Sunday afternoon though promised a brightening up so Cath and I headed up the East Okement to Cleave Tor for a spot of painting. Paul caught us up and we completed the loop back to his place via Scarey Tor and a new discovery below Lower Halstock Farm.

Cleave Tor
Below Ashbury Tor

By now, I was feeling warmed up and my recovery seemed to be going well. It was a shame that I was due to go home the next day, just as the weather was due to improve again.

To be continued…

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