Dartmoor Take Two – Live Blog

Hey everyone!
So we tried Dartmoor again to see if we could do a bit more walking than last time (and potentially camp for three nights). I thought I’d try something different and make notes of how I was feeling along the way. You’ll probably notice that I was quite miserable, but then it got better. I’m hoping when we do Fjallraven Classic Sweden 2018, I’ll feel a bit better after day 2 as I get used to the weight in my pack. This is also a record of things I’ll learn whilst practising.

Friday night
22:30 In the car, listening to the sounds of the trail podcast, wishing that Dartmoor wasn’t still an hour and a half away .

Dan started listening to the sounds of the trail podcast and finds it funny – I like it because there are lots of women and some of it is so relatable even though I don’t thru-hike yet.

Saturday
00:23 The tent is up, the stars are gorgeous, just inflating the mat and there we go. It is so much warmer than last time and nice to not be freezing. There’s a horse outside though (or two) and they’re creepy.

0:37 In my sleeping bag, warm, much happier than last time.

8:21 Awake and it’s warm!! Did get a little cold in the night.

I did get a little cold during the night – sleeping in trousers would probably be better given I’m a bit of a wimp.

10:21 we’ve put away the tent and been walking for 15 minutes or so. It really hurts and I hate this so much. But the little lambs were cute.

The first half an hour is always absolutely horrible.

11:01 Climbed up Bellever tor, no energy. Whyyyyy?

I forgot to mention that the view was beautiful.

11:39 So I hadn’t tightened my shoulder straps enough (urghhh) so that’s why the bag felt worse than last time. Still can’t say I’m feeling it yet.

Hadn’t adjusted it for just one layer – I had three last time I used it!

12:15 it’s lunch time – we made it to Postbridge – a pretty little village. Feel loads better (might be because we went downhill).

13:31 had a long reading break looking over the river. Very tired. We’ve only walked about 5km. 7 or 8 left.

14.38 Hartland Tor. It’s so hot today and I’m not feeling it. Urghhh. I want to feel it.

15:38 This is very hard today. But the sun’s gone in and we’re not too far off the forest…I’m just really tired.

16:07 Walked through a bog – can’t tell if my foot is wet from bog water or sweat. Probably both. Having to work out good crossing points distracted me from the fact this is hard.

It was good to have to think about foot placement instead of how warm it was.

16:23 There is just sodding brown everywhere.

Moorland – what can I say?

16:45 We are in the forest and I feel a bit better. Change of scenery is excellent because damn the Moors were getting boring.

17:27 Made it to the camping spot.

It was in a little wood just outside a reservoir area.

18:49 Just used the shewee. Love this adventure.

I bought a shewee because sometimes your legs hurt too much to squat. Was good to practise using it.

19:25 Tent is up, life is instantly better.

19:39 Even better, Daniel cooked dinner (I mean he does every day to be fair).

19:40 Ooooh pasta and weird french grains.

Total distance: 14.2km

Sunday
9:02 Slept okay but why do my arms and shoulders hurt and why are my legs fine?

12:12 Just been for a quick walk along the reservoir (bagless). I miss bagless walking…it’s too hot so saving the walking for later in the afternoon.

13:19 Note to self don’t take sleeping mat outside there are Ticks everywhere.

Fortunately didn’t get any bites, Dan can’t say the same. Little buggers.

14.19 Off we go, I really don’t wanna put this bag on.

14:59 A public loo! Just at the right time. Walking feels better today – I didn’t distribute the weight well yesterday which is why one of my hips hurt more than the other.

I put my clothes bag upright on one side meaning one side was much heavier than the other. Must learn to pack better.

15:36 Late afternoon is nice. Have a little headache though.

16:57 Uphill hurts. Bag feels better but the heat is relentless.

18:19 Walked through a forest, had a break and a read – back on the moorland but it’s cooler now. Enjoying myself again. It’s kinda beautiful.

20:04 Back at Postbridge, had dinner by the river (tuna and bean pasta). The ‘I’m doing cool stuff feeling’ has kicked in and I’m like yeeeeesss outdoors (also I saw a foal and some lambs which was awesome). I learned how to filter water.

Water filtering is actually easy. You just fill up a bag in the stream, attach this nozzle thing and squeeze the bag so the water goes into the container. Oh you can also drink from the nozzle – how cool is that? (It’s called the Sawyer Squeeze).

20:56 This is amazing. Up on a hill as it’s going dark. It is COOL and I’m not aaaah hot. Just gonna find a good camping spot.

21:21 Blessed with another public toilet! Tonight feels good. So so good. I’m so so happy.

Thanks Bellever Forest for leaving your loos open at night.

22:05 Ah it’s beautiful. The stars are out (maybe a couple of planets). There is no wind. It’s cool. It’s silent. I can see the car (we are going to the car now because I am totally on it). And I am enjoying night hiking.

22:36 Back at the car – 16.6km done today. Walking at night was soooo awesome.

03:15 I am home. Felt a bit sick in the car but so happy to have a bed.

Monday
13:04 I love Dan, he made me cheese and marmite on toast. Felt amazing to have a shower and sleep in a bed and urghhhhhhh it’s Tuesday tomorrow.

And there we have it, my second wild-camping adventure. Over in a flash (or not, it was a bit too hot to be happy sometimes!).

On to the next one….

Rebecca.

My First Wildcamp – Dartmoor

Back on Easter Bank Holiday weekend, I did my first wildcamp on Dartmoor (which also happened to be the first time I’ve had to carry my big 65L Osprey Aura backpack).

It was always going to be daunting – I’m not very strong and the bag was quite heavy (though in reality, no more than about 10kg).

The first battle was packing. My sleeping bag just about fits in the bottom of the backpack. I also find it really difficult to roll up my mat tight enough to fit in its case – but Dan was on hand to do it properly. I also carried water, snacks, clothes, waterproofs, toiletries and I think Dan had the rest (he’s good like that).

We arrived at Hound Tor on Saturday afternoon (we’d avoided the morning rain). The biggest challenge was picking the backpack up and trying to get it onto my back. Fortunately, once in place, the hip belt made and tightening the shoulder straps made it reasonably comfortable. Poles were lengthened and off we went.

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I can’t remember most of the route (I remember passing Widecombe-on-the-Moor at some point). And we went up a really big hill in the freezing wind. There was also some sort of trail race going on, but rather them than me. It was exhausting, cold and I was honestly a little miserable. But late in the afternoon, we started to go downhill again (and in my ‘I hurt so much and I’m so tired and bleeeeh’ state, started singing John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads).

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It felt good to take off my rucksack, but within a few minutes of stopping the walk I got really cold. I half-heartedly helped Dan put the tent up (it’s an easy tent to put up, but some of it is fiddly with thickish gloves on). By the time I could get inside, I was shivering and even more miserable and honestly had no desire to ever camp again. I think I even cried a little bit – yes, I’m a bit of a wimp. But Dan cooked us some pasta (mixed with John West packets of tuna or salmon and random cous-cous variations to add some flavour), and I ate it with my sleeping bag over my legs, with base layer, jumper, fleece and synthetic down jacket on. As I warmed up, I was lots happier.

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I slept reasonably well. Dan’s old inflatable mat was much more comfortable than the roll mat that I was using before. My sleeping bag was incredibly cosy. I slept in a hat. I woke up to the sound of sheep grazing. It was actually really peaceful.

Naturally, it was still cold in the morning. Naturally, I was too cold to change clothes (I did manage to change socks and wow it felt good). Naturally, I had to wee outside which was rather difficult with sore legs. But after that, we packed up and walked the last few kilometres back to Hound Tor. My collar bones ached a lot from the day before but everything felt better after the first half an hour or so. And it still hadn’t rained, which was awesome.

When we finished, we got celebratory cheeseburgers at the burger van, warmed up in the car, and drove home. And I actually felt really good. And I’d happily do it again (hopefully in slightly better weather). I’ve learned to put my thermals on before I get too cold to change clothes, to trust my sleeping bag which is warm even if it doesn’t look it, and that I can carry my big bag over a fair distance with hills in it.

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I can’t wait to give it a go again!

Rebecca.