Vur Tor Sunset

Vur Tor Sunset

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

An excuse to start running again.

Well not being overly keen on exersize as many will have guessed ;-) but as needs must i've recently returned to doing the occasional run, the excuse being to try knacker out a rather energetic lurcher cross collie(Taz). Ilfracombe where better to try kill myself  off  by running up and down hills, those of you that know the area will understand just how flat and  easy it is to run around (or not as the case maybe).

It seems to be having the desired effect on Taz, just got to wait and see what effect it has on me, most likely none.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Belstone to Watern, Wild camp 27-08-2010

Wednesday evening and work was over for the week, the joys of fighting my way through the Plymouth rush hour traffic was set out in front of me, before hitting the open moorland roads heading north to Barnstaple and onwards to Ilfracombe.

The drive was enjoyable once clear of the outskirts of plymouth with no hold ups, just the pleasure of low vissability with the mist setting in over the moors, driving through the clag , thinking about  the weekends walking and wildcamping left me wondering if the mist would still be lingering when it was time for us to head out on foot over the moors.

Ariving in Ilfracombe my first greeting came from the over energetic Taz (the lurcher cross collie) and a brief hello from Louise, next thing on the cards for me was food (I should be fat with the amount i eat).

Thursday was Taz walking day for me with a bimble round Ilfracombe.

Friday soon came and a lazy start was had before we set out for the drive to Belstone, two rucksacks packed and the Dogs pack loaded up with his bed for the night (this to be his first camping trip).

Leaving the car at Belstone we strolled up through the village, past the stocks and pub before dropping down into Belstone cleave and skirting round the woods before cutting through a section of woods towards Ramsley with the intention of picking up the track towards the stone row below Cosdon, only to be sent off on a un-needed detour down through some woods and into ramsley itself, i shall have to find the woman and thank her for telling us we were ment to go through the field for the footpath when we were actually walking on the bridle way that we wanted to go along (note toself to ignore locals and stick to reading the map).

A bonus to taking the route around the outskirts of the moors, was coming across the fairy's house.

Once back on track and heading back out onto the open moor we followed our way up through the walled feild network and out to the triple stone row.
From here it was an easy to navigate route out to Hound Tor and onwards to Wild Tor, a descent down into the valley before ascending to Watern Tor and our wild camp spot, the stream in the valley offering an ideal spot to top up with water ready for the evenings cooking.
The nights accomodation was to be the Shangri-la3 with full nest (the first outing for the nest and i was dissapointed to find out the tie out points are not long enough to match up and use the Fly pegs).
To add even more interest to the evenings camping having Taz along with us for the first time camping, this could have been a disaster with him having a bad habbit for wanting to chase sheep, lucky for us having loaded him up with his doggy pack, once in the tent and the sheep were out of sight he settled down quite well.

The Following day was an easy stroll back heading from Watern Tor over to Hanging stone, and then following the track back to Belstone past Oke tor and Winter Tor, before finishing in the pub for a cold drink and a nice Ploughmans lunch.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Help the Hero's sponsored walk. 10-6-10

A walk i didn't have to plan, or lead, just turn up walk and give moral support to those slightly less used to walking long distances, the supposed 10 mile route was only a fraction longer by about a third, in reality it was 13.2 miles. Starting out from Mount Edgcombe and walking through the rather splendid gardens.
The weather was a bit overcast, but that was a good thing it would have been far to warm else, leaving the gardens it was a wooded walk along the coast towards Cawsand.
First port of call on reaching Kingsands was the Rising Sun pub, for a quick drink and call of nature break, then on round to Cawsands and the little shop there for a little sustenance to keep us going, for me a rather nice steak and stilton pasty followed by a custard slice.

So fueled up it was onwards and upwards to penlee point and the old watch hut.

From here its along the coast to Rame head.

A short rest at Rame head for a light snack was called for, along with a few moans and groans from some about their feet aching, plus several other ailments to complain about. this was about just over the half way point with a big chunk of what remained being along the cliff top road along to Whitsand bay and down into Millbrook and another pub stop. The final hour of the walk was following the Millbrook creek back along and then through a few fields to lead us back to our starting point of Cremyl and Mount Edgcombe.

Wednesday Evening Bimble 9-6-10

The joy's of finishing work at 5pm, extra walking time but also the joys of rush hour traffic to be endured, made worse by the variety of road works going on around Plymouth.

Having battled my way way through the traffic to reach Mary's place for a short stop before heading on out to meet up with George and Anna. As per norm Mary has a mad capped idea for something that needs to be done before we head off, the pitching of her new tent in the garden.

After a quick pitch and having packed the tent away it was time to head for George and Anna's, Mary driving this time as there would be no chance of getting 4 people and two dogs in my car.

Roborough beckoned and having picked up our fellow walking companions plus two dogs we headed for Bickleigh so we could join the track that leads down to the River Plym. The plan being to walk along the river to start with and back along the old train track for the the return to give the dogs time to dry out.

As per norm Jasmine spent 90% of the first half of the walk in the river, and the other 10% spent shaking the water off usually close by some unfortunate person (me), While Mary in her shiny white trainers tried to avoid any muddy patches, Bimbling along George and Anna turned into wombles picking up the litter left by those  that are to inconsiderate to think of the effect it has on the environment, wild life and others enjoyment of an area of beauty.

Along the route there are a few spots of interest, the viaducts an old waterwheel (or at least the housing for it) and climbing back up towards the old train track there are a few ruined buildings, but the main reason for this walk was to see the Peregrine falcons, so having reached the viaduct where the bird watching people are set up it was good to see they were still there and the spotting scopes still out to give a view of the birds

Well worth a walk there for the views and chatting to the people you can learn quite a bit about the falcons too.

The last leg of the walk is probs the least inspiring along the old train track which has since been tarmaced to make it a cycle path, then the final adventure was hoping Mary's small car would make it up the hill will loaded with 4 people and 2 not too small dogs.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Bank Holiday Weekend Wild Camp Part 2

The start to the morning was not that much better, poking the head out the door to see still more mist at 6 in the morning was a little downheartening having been fooled by the nice bright yellow glow coming through the tent flysheet making you think it's looking bright out, so crashing out till 8 was the choice of the day, by the time we had everything packed away the mist was just starting to lift and patches of blue sky were begining to be revealed.

Sundays walk was to be far more pleasant, being able to see where you were walking to was a rather novel compared to saturdays adventures.

Nine O'clock and we ready and making a move skirting round the hill side and the a short climb up to Cut hill and the peat pass before descending down to the west dart, looking down into Sandy hole pass, then heading on to the waterfall for a short break and a few photo's to be taken.

From the waterfall it was up past Broad Down and then following the wall along towards Lower White Tor and a view across to the Browns house ruin, next come the strenous 20 meters of ascent over a 780meter walk to reach Higher White stopping here to take in the views and point out the surrounding tors Longaford, Crow, Beardown, Rough, Lydford and Bellever Tor just to mention a few.
Longaford standing out in front of us looking a grand old Tor and one just begging to be scrambled up, the dartmoor ponies beside the track gave chance for a few photo oppertunites along the way, Louise with her camera at the ready to catch the odd snap of a pony or three.

Just two more places of interest for us to stop at before arriving back at the car, a leasurely stroll along to the base of Longaford followed by a scramble up the northside of the tor and a brief sit down on the top to once again take in the views and devour a few jelly babies in the process,from the tor we looked down onto Wistmans wood our last and final place of interest before heading back to the car, again on reaching the woods another chance to put the camera's into use to capture the stunted oak tree's in all their glory.
Now all that was left was the less than interesting track leading back to the car park, followed by a drive to princetown and a nice healthy late breakfast in the cafe.
Sundays camp spot was to have a few more modern ammenities than the saturdays, so the Plume of Feathers was to be the site, with the tent pitched up in the early afternoon it was decided that a short walk might be in order to keep us from getting in the pub too early, Nuns Cross and the nice stone row and circle out near Down Tor were are targets for the afternoon.

There is a little info on the Stone row and Circle in one if my previous posts, Siward's Cross to give Nuns Cross it's true name can be classed as a wayside marker and is possibly the oldest and certainly the largest wayside marker on dartmoor. It was mentioned in the 1240 Perambulation of the Forest of Dartmoor,The cross was probably erected during Edward the Confessor's reign (1042–1066), and stands at the junction of two main tracks across the moor: The Monks’ Path and the Abbots’ Way.

Having visited both these sites and made the most of the nice weather the next point of call for both of us was a good long hot shower to make ourselfs feel human again before the truma of finding a table in the Plume to sit at and have a meal and not to mention a drink or three, lasagna being tonight choice washed down with a pint of tribute. Having told Louise about the charectors you get in the pub, we were not dissapointed when a highly amusing couple joined us at the table due to lack of any other tables available, made for an interesting conversation about farming on the moors, as well as the entertaining night time runs one did to avoid being seen running. The entertainment didn't stop there no quicker had they left we were joined by Shamus and his mad spaniel.

A good fun night was had, and the beer helped drown out the other snoring campers.

Mondays entertainment comes back to people forgeting things, up at eight in the morn and Louise had to pack up and get back to her car early to go pick her dog up, so everything was gathered together quick check in the tent see nothing was left, and off we set to drop her back to her car, now your probabily thinking she left the car keys behind, but not this time just one dry bag with a purse camera and mobile phone.

Now just to plan the next trip.

Bank Holiday Weekend Wild Camp

This trip had been in the diary for some time, fingers had been crossed for some nice weather with taking Louise out for her first wild camping trip with me. As per usual with bank holiday weekends the weather was less than favourable at least on the Saturday,

Nine O'clock Saturday morning saw me looking out the window watching the rain fall, a quick check of the weather forecast(not to be believed) said drying up in the afternoon with just light showers, so gear all packed and loaded in the car i headed off early to meet Louise at two bridges, being slightly ahead of time a detour to the foxtor cafe was in order for a breakfast to fuel me through the days walking.

By ten thirty i was sat in the old quarry car park at two bridges, looking at a rather badly parked and abandoned car( Louise's) as she too had arrived early but headed for the pub for a coffee.

With one car parked up safely at two bridges, we bundled all the kit needed into the other car ready to head out to prewley and the start of our two day walk. While driving out towards Tavistock a brief discussion about the weather( the fact the moors were clagged in with mist ) we decided a detour to the gear shop in Tavi was in order with the hope the mist might lift as the day went on.

Gear shops are dangerous places for bank accounts at least, but will power succeeded this time and no purchases were made by me, and just a roll top rucksack liner dry bag bought by Louise, and with that sorted it was time to make a move for Prewley.

So this was the start of the walk, out of the car kit sorted out and Louise's kit transferred to one of my spare rucksacks(AK37) and the dry bag being used (a wise move) but what should happen just as we were about to head off, the sky's opened up with a nice downpour, being delusional as we all can be sometime we thought if we waited 5 mins in the car the rain would pass and we would stay dry, how wrong could we be.

Now we really do start walking heading out onto the open moor past the old ice factory built in 1875 by James Henderson and run through till 1886 when the ice pits were filled and leveled tho you can still see today the banking running across the hill in staggered levels.

Onwards and upwards to Sourton Tor we headed following a large group of ramblers, and also enjoyed the view of the mist closing back in on the moor, a quick check of the map and a bearing set on the compass, we watched the large group head off ahead towards Great Links the route that we would shortly be following.

Heading towards the old tram way that ran out to the peat workings we aimed to hit the track just below the tram turning point then follow the track up and out towards Gren Tor, along the track we had the fortune of bumping into two old guys that must have been in there late 60's if not older, a right pair of characters they turned out to be, after a brief chat and having had them ask if we had a GPS and if we could help them try find a plane crash spot that they had a grid reference for. Why not we thought so the grid reference programed in we headed off into the mist and away from the track in search of the crash site, along the way we passed a pond of water that i suspect might have been the crash point, tho the grid reference was some way off from this spot and the only real distinguishing feature at the grid reference was a large bolder( will have to do some research and see if their grid ref was right).
Having done the good deed for the day we bid farewell to the two gentlemen and headed onwards to the Rattlebrook peat work ruins and eventually Bleak house.

Bleak house on a very bleak day, turned out to be a good spot to take respite from the weather behind it's walls and grab a bite to eat, all the luxuries today cheese and pringles, and a quick discussion on what had been forgotten, in my case the essential moral boosting hip flask of whiskey for when we pitched up at night, Louise's turn to forget things happens later.

So from Bleak house the next stop was to be the settlements at Watern Oke, a nice easy bit of navigation following the Rattle Brook down to where it joins Amicombe Brook on this stretch the rain did cease for a short time, just long enough for the wind to help dry out the trousers, but it didn't stop long enough for us to not get wet again before reaching our chosen wild camp spot. As we approached the settlements the mist broke for a fraction giving a short glimpse of Vur(Fur) Tor in the distance spurring us on to cross the Amicombe and start the ascent up to the Tor at this point the rain decided it would start again and not quite the showers that had been forecast.

A slight lack of concentration and  with the mist once again closing in we headed upwards soon to realise we were heading for the Meads and not Vur Tor, time for the GPS to get it's second use of the day and guide us across and up to the Tor, and a lesson learnt, not to be complacent when you have only had a fleeting glimpse of where you want to head it's always wise to use the map and compass. Walking in towards Vur Tor, the gps telling us we were getting ever closer but even at 90 meters away the bulking mass of granite that is Vur Tor was still not visible through the mist, at 80 meters a faint outline could be discerned and it was a view i think we were both glad to see as this was to be our wild camp spot for the evening.

Pitching up in the lee of the tor we were grateful to be out of the wind and driving rain, our home for the night was an MSR Hubba hubba, in a tasteful yellow which has a surprising talent of making you think it looks nice out, until you open the door and all you are welcomed with is a view of mist.

The next challenge of the day was the fight over sleeping mats, a short neoair and a regular length thermo6 airmat, I ended up with the thermo 6 with my golite ultra20 quilt and Louise on the neoair (her choice) with a pipedream 400, both more than adequate for the conditions, if anything to good but better to be to warm than cold.

Next challenge was food, and some how i got delegated the role of chef, not that I'm complaining the menu was not overly challenging, pasta with a peperoni style pasta sauce and added peperoni, a chance to make first use out of the new Coleman Exponent cook set, it may not be as light as some Ti offerings but when cooking for two the pan sizes are near on perfect, easy to clean, and the grooved base makes for a very stable pan when on the stove no chance of it slipping off. We are both still alive today so my cooking can not be all that bad.

The evening was spent chatting due to the lack of views, well unless you enjoy watching mist, my usual evening entertainment of taking photo's such as sunset shots or doing night shots was not going to be happening this time.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Foggintor and Swelltor Quarries

Today started with a Trip to the city centre for a few essentials ready for this weekends camping with Louise, one gas cylinder, and a pair of Patagonia trail shoes (ready for the Cornish coast path in July) purchased it was time to find something to do to occupy the afternoon that didn't involve the temptation to buy more kit.

After a couple of texts to Mary a plan was made, the moors beckoned and a venture round to check out some climbing spots at Foggin Tor and Swell Tor Quarries, as usual with these trips i have started looking into the history of the places visited.

Stone from Swell Tor quarry was used to rebuild London Bridge in the 1890's and from the end of the 18th century stone had been taken from Foggintor Quarry to be used in the building of much of Princetown. With the advent of the nearby Plymouth - Dartmoor railway 1823 to 1953 ( horse drawn to start with) the famous Dartmoor granite found its way further afield. Foggintor granite was sent all over the country, one notable example being Trafalgar Square, where it provides Nelson with his Column. Foggintor Quarry had a total of seven circular crane bases.

Quarry operations were substantial enough to warrant building not only offices, but also cottages, a day school and chapel, all just beside its canyon-like quarry entrance. Little of them now remain except their ground-plans, one of the last walls of any height belongs to the manager's house.

A bimble out past yellowmead farm lead to Foggin Tor Quarry, the first of the two quarries we wanted to check out for climbing, as we worked our way through the workings, we came across a group already climbing and abseiling on the quarry faces having stopped to watch and look at possible climbing routes we meandered on through the quarry following the sawdust trail left by some hash house harrier runners, which i had to explain to Mary are drinkers with a running habit, rather than runners with a drinking habit. Breaking out from the quarry we dropped down onto the old quarry train track that runs in a weaving route winding round the tors from Princetown towards Yelverton, crossing the track we then headed on off to Swell Tor Quarry with its ruined buildings at it's entrance making it an interesting spot to stop and look round before entering the quarry itself, working our way in between the two narrow faces that lead to the bowl of what appears to be the main quarry face.
Having thought the quarry would offer shelter from the wind we were disappointed to find the wind whistling around in circles within the bowl of the quarry, so a short stop was had before deciding on a short scramble up on of the faces and onto the top before heading back to Foggin Tor Quarry where we skirted the top of the quarry faces checking out the ample offerings for setting up top ropes for climbing, all that was left after this was the short bimble back to the car to pitch the hex and fit the half hex inner and allow me to cut the elastic tie outs to length.
Having pitched the hex and fitted the inner the bathtub looks good tho i think i will add two rigid supports to the front corners as they don't match up with any of the bathtub hanging points on the fly, one other modification is needed to add tension to the back fabric to stop it sagging so much, this probs won't be the most tidiest of jobs but will make for a usable and comfortable half inner, i shall have to work out where my measurements went wrong i have a vague idea, so next time i think a paper model will be used before production to ensure lengths and angles are correct. I was going to take some photo's but will wait till these modifications are completed.