Another wet and windy weekend with 10 Tors

I was up on the Moor over the weekend helping look after 9 teams of 10 Tors participants from the National Trust Wild Tribe and Torquay Boys Grammar School. Saturday saw some of the worst and most challenging conditions I have witnessed on Dartmoor – persistent driving rain, a strong wind and very poor visibility. As a  result – very few photographs …..

This is the Trig Point – on Ryders Hill – the highest point on the south moor – it was bleak and unpleasant on Saturday – Pete and I were on our way to Red Lake tip to check point 7 teams through


This is a photo of Red Lake tip taken in 2015 (it is the conical man made peak in the middle ground) – on Saturday we could only see it when we were 200m from it – a day of navigation by compass – which Pete did very expertly all day.


Here are a couple of our groups at Red Lake ……

We eventually saw all seven groups through by 5pm and then started on our 90 minute walk back to our O Brook campsite – all the teams were in camp by 7pm

This is the O Brook on a sunny day!


Sunday we were check pointing at various places – including Norsworthy Bridge – a much better day but still misty in places and very windy


This is Sharpitor where we ended our walks

Very challenging conditions – well done to all the young people who took part over the weekend – if you can walk and navigate in those conditions you have cracked it!

Dartmoor was character building over the weekend and undoubtedly the moor build some new characters.

A rainy weekend on the Moor

Our first two day walk with an overnight camp of the year with the National Trust’s Wild Tribe teams and those from Torquay Boys Grammar School …..

rain
This was the view when I arrived at the car park – only a mile walk to our wild camping site but nevertheless…

camp
At the back of Foggintor Quarry – at least it stopped raining for a few minutes whilst I got my tent up – it then rained all night –  a mixture of wind blown drizzle and heavy rain – I was soaked as was the inside of my tent by 6.30pm – a long night ahead. Apparently this was Storm Ewan but I didn’t know that at the time!

Teams started leaving camp at 4.30am

In view of the continuing poor weather and the forecast predicting more heavy rain from 3pm we convened a meeting in the Fox Tor Cafe at 8am to review routes.

Our teams were intending to go from the Princetown area through the centre of the high moor right up to Okehampton camp via Great Knesset i.e. a route which was a long way from anywhere hospitable.

We re-routed all the teams up the west side of the moor closer to roads in case anything went wrong and decided to end at 3pm at Meldon instead of 5pm at Anthony Stile.

tavy
This is the Tavy – despite all the rain flowing low

great-nodden
We went up to Nodden Gate to checkpoint some teams through – the dome of Great Nodden in the background.

Most of Dartmoor is made of of granite which is an igneous rock formed from molten lava – in contrast Great Nodden consists of metamorphic rock (i.e. older rocks which have been transformed by heat or pressure or both) – thus its very different shape

lyd
The River Lyd

brat-tor
The Lyd with Brat Tor and the Widgery Cross to the left

lyd-stepping-stones
Somewhat surprisingly – very low water levels at the Lyd Stepping Stones

Safely back at Meldon just as the 3pm rain arrives

A big well done to all the young people (and the team of adult leaders) who made it to the end – a character building weekend

All my kit bar my tent is now dry – my tent will be by the end of the day

The moor around Belstone

We were out on Saturday 10 Tors training. Our job to to checkpoint teams through Hound Tor (the other Hound Tor near Steeperton Tor) and then across the concrete ford near Belstone. The weather during the day was superb and we were treated to a variety of spectacular views.

from-oke-tor
From Oke Tor looking north to West Mill Tor and Rowtor

from-hound-tor-to-cosden
From Hound Tor down to Cosdon Hill

belstone-tor
Down into Taw Marsh with Belstone Tor in the background

west-mill-yes-tor-and-high-willhays
Across to High Willhays, Yes Tor, West Mill Tor and Rowtor with East Mill Tor in the middle distance

routeHere is the route we took – it around a 10 mile walk from Belstone – there are quite a few river crossings at various fords – if you plan to do this walk you will need good walking boots, gaiters, a map and a compass!

Our 10 Tors Christmas Walk

Yesterday was our last 10 Tors  training walk of the year – not a long walk just around 4 hours which culminated in our traditional Christmas lunch in the car park below Great Staple Tor.

Earlier in the day we had been over to Fice’s Well to checkpoint our 45 and 55 mile teams. As the morning progressed the wind picked up and it was bitterly cold.

horse-shoe
A horse shoe on a granite wall on the way down from Great Mis Tor

great-mis-tor-posterI used this photo in my blog yesterday – I’ve had a play in Photoshop and I quite like this version too.

xmas-pastyIn total there were nearly 80 of us out yesterday and at the end of the walk we had warm pasties, warm mince pies and hot ‘mulled’ fruit juice. A feat of hard, work, timing and improvisation – thanks Karrie

xmas-treeWe even had a Christmas tree!

vixen-torLooking down from the car park is Vixen Tor – one of the very few on Dartmoor you can’t visit.

pew-torAnd looking across to the west is Pew Tor with a herd of galloway grazing the Common below

 

Mist and mizzle at the top of Dartmoor

Yesterday I was up on high Dartmoor as part of our 10 Tors training – we had around 60 young people and a dozen adult helpers. It was the kind of day that unless you had to go out onto the moors you probably wouldn’t have. The visibility was pretty poor, there was either constant mizzle  or wind driven rain. It was a day for navigating via a compass and not using landmarks. All in all a good day for practicing various 10 Tors skills and testing your clothing and equipment.

okehampton-common
On Okehampton Common looking into the Red-a-ven brook

okehampton-common-2

Between West Mill Tor and Rowtor (which were invisible in the mist) back down to Anthony Stile

dinger-tor-1
Up at Dinger Tor

dinger-tor-2
At Dinger Tor – wet, windy, cold and misty

lichens
A Cladonia lichen brightens up the day – close to High Willhays

pool-at-high-willhay
A pool close to High Willhays

ian-and-tony-at-high-willhay
Ian and Tony at High Willhays, the highest point on Dartmoor (and south England) at 621 metres.

high-willhay
Various teams of walkers pass through High Willhays

On the right hand side of this picture you can see a single individual on top of the Cairn – rather oddly and worryingly he appeared out of the mist wearing a pair of trainers and a non waterproof coat carrying a supermarket carrier bag and asked us which Tor he was at, stating that he didn’t have a map! We told him he was at High Willhays and he seemed very pleased to have found it. He then sat on the cairn for 30 minutes – he must have got soaked. We asked if he wanted help getting back but he said he knew the back and was fine ……. One walk away from disaster.

meldon
Back down at Meldon Reservoir (look how low the water level is) you can see the mist and rain on the high moor

meldon-dam
Looking down over the dam

routeHere’s the route I took yesterday starting at the car park at Meldon reservoir – it is around 10.5 miles in length and on a day with good visibility is a great high Dartmoor walk. If you do decide to do it  – please wear good walking boots, waterproof clothing and take a map and compass …….

A walk from Haytor

Whilst I like reading and writing about Dartmoor you can’t beat the experience of getting out into Dartmoor. Yesterday the annual 10 Tors cycle began again. We were out on the moor training the new prospective students how to read maps, navigate and walk on Dartmoor. We had six groups of students walking various routes from Haytor to Hound Tor and back.

route
This is the route I took – it is about 8km long and is a good introductory walk on Dartmoor – it does go up and down and requires walking boots, a compass, map and a coat but nevertheless is an achievable walk which visits a number of interesting places. It starts at the lower Haytor Car Park.

becca-brookThe Becca Brook below Holwell Tor with the recently installed new clapper bridge

greator-rocksGreator Rocks between Holwell Lawn and Houndtor Down

haytor-and-quarriesLooking back to Haytor with its quarries and Holwell Tor in the foreground

hound-torUp to Hound Tor – the Rowan or Mountain Ash trees were covered in their blood red berries

hound-tor-2The south west corner of Hound Tor

black-hillBack across the Becca Brook and up the slope to Black Hill with Haytor again in the background

black-hill-cairnThe Cairn on the summit of Black Hill with the Bovey Valley in the background.

tramwayPart of the ancient tramway on Haytor Down

haytor-quarryThe famous quarry to the northeast of Haytor itself

home-farm-cafeBack down to the car park for a cup of tea and a piece of flapjack with my old friends from Home Farm Cafe.

A very blustery day up on the moor yesterday but we missed out on the rain! I can recommend this walk if you want to recharge your batteries and burn a few calories. The area is rich in archaeology and moor itself is well managed by the Commoners and is  great for wildlife.

Perfect.

Tony and Mark – 40 years of 10 Tors

Without the people who train and manage the young people and teams 10 Tors wouldn’t happen – most of these people are volunteers who give huge amounts of their time. Tony and Mark are two such people.

Tony and Mark
Tony Owen with Mark Whitehall in the background.

Tony and Mark both went to Torquay Boys Grammar School and were in the same year. They both did 10 Tors and were in the same team 40 years ago.

Young Tony
Here is a photo of Tony (on the left) training for 10 Tors 40 years ago

Young Mark
Here is Mark (on the left) on the same walk.

After leaving school both got involved with helping with 10 Tors as volunteers. Tony Owen has helped TBGS for over 13 years and for the last seven years has also helped the National Trust’s Wild Tribe Teams. I first met Mark when I used to help with Maynard School’s 10 Tors teams. He has helped them for around a decade and this year he came and volunteered for the National Trust’s Wild Tribe Teams.

10 Tors only has a future if we can find people to volunteer and get trained up as Moorland Leaders – the most likely candidates for this are those people who did 10 Tors when they were youngsters.

Having completed 10 Tors yourself however is not a prerequisite – having a love of Dartmoor, walking, along with a willingness to pass on your skills, get wet and cold is.

WT 55 3
When the National Trust’s Wild Tribe team completed their walk this year it meant that Tony has personally trained fifty 45 and 55 mile teams – all fifty of those teams arrived with all six participants – that is 300 young people and some record.

Legends