Vur Tor Sunset

Vur Tor Sunset

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.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Nearing completion.... half hex mark2.1

Well 4 evenings work, with lots of distractions and the Half hex is looking nearly finished, just the top tie out points for the groundsheet to do and the peak hanging loop, Production of these is still a learning curve for me, i think on the next one i will start at the ground and work my way up when it comes to sewing the sections together, this one all the top panels were sewn together before attaching to the ground sheet, tho this works fine a little trimming in places was needed and i think it would make for a tidier job trimming at the peak than at the base.

Will try get some photo's posted up in the next couple of days, and will be aiming to give it a test run either Wednesday or Thursday Evening.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Half hex inner

Well an evening of cutting and machining has been done, and I'm now half way through the next half hex inner, still not quite mastered the blind seems but then I'm trying to keep the seems small so makes it quite hard work, one half of the topside has been sewn, will more than likely crack on with the other three panels tomorrow evening before, attaching them to the Silnylon groundsheet, then comes the easy part(or not as the case maybe) fitting the zips, tie out points and hanging loop.

Will be looking forward to completing it and seeing how it measures up compared to the last one, and how well it hangs within the Hex3(Shangri-la3)

Monday, 17 May 2010

Dewerstone evening bimble 17-5-2010

This evenings adventure was a short bimble through Dewerstone woods and up to Dewerstone Rock to check out the climbing options and a look at a few top roping set up positions to use one evening in the future, as per norm on the weekday evening bimbles my company consisted of Mary, George, Anna and of course Beetroot and Jasmin( the dogs) .
So starting at the car park and passing over the small wooden bridge across the River Plym we strolled across to where the River Meavy joins the Plym to the great pleasure of Beetroot who was straight in the water, having dragged a rather damp dog away from the river we headed back for the miners track leading up through the woods towards the huge crag named after Dewer, the dreaded Wisht Huntsman who in other guises is none other than Satan. Not only does Dewer terrorise the moor at night as he hunts with his dreaded pack of phantom hounds but he haunts the lofty heights of The Dewerstone.
Heading up the miners track we broke off left along the path leading to the climbing faces of the Dewerstone Rock, looking up at the first face thinking it doesn't look too bad, tho no doubt those conceptions will go out the window once we start climbing it, but for today a little scramble around and up past it was the call of the day to check out anchoring points for setting up a top rope, again this looked fairly simple but will see just how simple on the next trip, when ropes harnesses and the rest of the climbing paraphernalia will be getting lugged out there.

A scramble back down beside the second and larger climbing stack led to what looked like a nice platform for a belay point about half way up the rock face, and once reaching the bottom the routes to climb up to it looked quite manageable, so hopefully a good starting point to build on our skills and finger strength. At the base of one of what looked a more interesting and challenging climbs is a stark reminder of how dangerous climbing can be, with flowers placed on the rock in remembrance of some fateful incident in the past, one we shall be endeavoring to avoid happening to us.

After a poignant moment looking at the flowers it was time to head back up to the path and out onto the miners track, heading down and across the Plym once again and back to the car.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Mark2.1 half hex inner

Well i now have all the material for the next evolution of the half hex inner, gone is the golite groundsheet to be replaced with light weight silnylon so i can make the floor to suit my lanky needs( being 6''2') it will be slightly narrower at it's widest point than the last but maintain the usable space  at head and foot end better, think i might have gone for a slight over kill on the bathtub, will be about 18 cm (20 cm at present) by the time you take into account the seems needed to attach the ripstop nylon to the groundsheet.

Cutting was started this evening with the groundsheet cut out and two panels cut 4 panels and 3 mesh panels yet to be cut then the machining will be started.

A little hint for those of you contemplating making your own a sheet of hardboard makes a good roller cutting surface mine now has the panel shapes drawn on it to make for easy replication, well long as you get the initial measurements right.

Friday, 14 May 2010


Well that's all the material ordered or all ready here for making another two half inners now to decide if i make two material ones, and sell one on or to make one half inner made with all mesh sides and one fabric sided half inner similar to that posted a while back. Oh the joys of measuring and cutting to look forward to, but it's all worth it when you get to the finished results. the down side being that more and more idea's come up for things to make or modifications to designs to put in place for the next time round.

Idea's for possible production are growing.
  • Tarp with sewn in bug net skirt and bathtub groundsheet.
  • Synthetic quilt.
  • Bug bivvy style inner for hex( very minimalist bath tub and mesh just large enough to lay in)
  • Sil nylon based bivvy bag with pertex topside and supported mesh bug net over head.
  • Light weight sil nylon rucksack.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

East oakment River to Steeperton Tor 13/5/2010

My saturday(every one elses thursday) and another day for having good company for a walk. Setting off from plymouth at 10am having made a quick run to the post office to send off a half hex inner, i headed for Okehampton station to meet up with Louise and Taz(the dog) my walking companions for the day.
The plan was to head out for a 20km walk heading from the station along the East Oakment River a pleasant start to the walk through wooded tracks following the river before breaking out to a view of Belstone tor to which we made an ascent, enjoying the views along to Higher and Oke Tors past which we would shortly be walking on route to Steeperton gorge, and the steep ascent up to Steeperton Tor.
Reaching the Summit and having once again taken in the views, a sheltered spot out of the wind was found as that old enemy hunger striked. Having fueled up we headed off towards Hound Tor with Taz leading the way, from there a slight descent down to the Whit moor stone circle near Little Hound Tor.
There must be something about that stone circle as on aproaching it Taz did stop and pause before entering which seemed a little out of charector, but who knows maybe just seeing something that wasn't there, me not taz that is.
The final stretch was a leasurley descent down to the River Taw and then skirting back round Belstone Tor to join the wooded track back to the station, a very pleasant day was had with 5 hours walking in good company and the rain holding off i can't complain :)

Cuckoo Rock, Combshead Tor and Down Tor 12/5/2010

Wednesday has become a day for going on evening
stroll with good friends, bought about by the climbing wall closing for the summer.

                          So this wednesday myself , George, Anna and Mary headed out from burrator following the track past the ruined buildings we ventured along with the two dogs leading the way, heading for Cuckoo rock to check out the bouldering options, a trip with the climbing shoes could be called for next time.

From Cuckoo Rock we headed up to Combshead Tor, scouting out a few camping spots which should afford some nice views of the sunset and sunrise, will no doubt post some photo's up at some point after i've ventured back out with camera and tent.

Heading north from Combshead we reached the rather intreaging ring cairn with 31 granite stones 11m diameter with a 350m stone row stretching away from it. A view well worth making the walk out to see, tho the stop there was short due to the dropping sun and losing of light, we cracked on heading up over Down Tor to watch a gorgeous sun set dropping down with leather and leaden Tors in the foreground.

Friday, 7 May 2010

A couple of photo's of my second attempt at a half hex(shangrila)3 inner, the first attempt the design was 3 full triangles of the hex, while making it easier to make and less stitching made usable space for me( being 6'2" ) a bit limited at head and foot end tho plenty of width, so i moved on to the mark2 inner as pictured above using two full triangles and two half triangles on the ends to give a more usable space.
Since those photos were taken i have added elastic tie out points to the top of the ground sheet which help to give the inner better shape.
The ground sheet is a golite cut in half and the front edge stitched up into a bathtub which should give a tough and durable option tho not the lightest, I'm in the proccess of trying to decide on the Mark2.1 version if i should go for 70gram/meter silnylon or 80gram/meter silicon coated polyester for the groundsheet ( so any one with an input please feel free to coment).
Total weight for the inner comes to just over 500 grams, weight could be lost by making the inner narrower but i'd rather have the extra usable space.
I will in due course be making a bug bivvy mesh style inner which i'd expect to be far lighter but that will be narrower and far more minimlistic and just for sleeping in, I will post photo's when complete( which will be after i have decided on the ground sheet material and ordered some)
Also in the pipe line is a silnylon based bivvy bag with pertex top side and bug net head.