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.

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

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

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Up at Dinger Tor

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At Dinger Tor – wet, windy, cold and misty

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

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A pool close to High Willhays

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Ian and Tony at High Willhays, the highest point on Dartmoor (and south England) at 621 metres.

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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.

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

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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 to High Willhays

I went for a walk yesterday with a friend up to High Willhays – the highest point on Dartmoor. It was around a 7 mile walk and took 4 hours including a lunch stop and included a climb of about 340 metres.

High Willhays 12
We started at the car park by Meldon Reservoir and then walked along the southern boundary of the reservoir, up the West Okement River, through the ancient oak wood called Black-a-tor Copse, on to Sandy Ford, then up to Fordsland Ledge, up to High Willhays, on to Yes Tor and then back down to Meldon via Okehampton Common and Longstone Hill. It is one of my favourite walks on Dartmoor – here are a few photographs from the day.

High Willhays 1Melton Reservoir from the dam

High Willhays 2Down to the viaduct from the dam

High Willhays 3By the West Okement looking up to Black Tor

High Willhays 4Into Black-a-tor Copse one of three of Dartmoor’s high altitude oak woods (see here and here for more details).

High Willhays 5Emerging from the other side

High Willhays 6At Fordsland Ledge looking south along the West Okement River with Lint’s Tor on the left

High Willhays 7Approaching High Willhays – the little rock on the left with the cairn on it. High Willhays is something of an optical illusion – wherever  you stand and look at it on Dartmoor there always appears to be a tor which is higher than it! However it is the highest point at 621m.

High Willhays 8At the summit – with Yes Tor behind (looking taller)

High Willhays 9Up to Yes Tor (619m)

High Willhays 10At the trig point on Yes Tor looking back to High Willhays

High Willhays 11Back down to Meldon Reservoir with Sourton Tor above the end of the water

High Dartmoor at its best – highly recommended

 

10 Tors training in the rain and wind Feb 16 – a day to remember

After my post yesterday morning (which I wrote Friday evening) I was rather apprehensive about embarking on a 10 Tors expedition on Saturday.

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The weather had worsened over night and on Saturday morning we had an Amber warming of rain over Dartmoor and Devon.

As Team Managers and Leaders (Torquay Boys Grammar School and National Trust Wild Tribe) we had spent quite a lot of Friday evening discussing the situation and looking at options. We were clear that the Saturday walk route needed to be radically altered and shortened but there was real merit in testing the young people in trying conditions. Alternative routes were devised which would be safe but would be challenging – a key 10 Tor principle.

 


Upon arriving at Meldon Car park this was the scene over the cattle grid.


And this was the runoff – it was raining cats and dogs….

WaterfallVarious teams set off on their revised similar routes – here is the scene looking up at Homerton Hill on the south bank of Meldon reservoir – there isn’t normally a waterfall there!

Into Meldon
And the flow into the reservoir is nearly overwhelming the bridge

These photos show the scale of the rain – but give not idea who windy it was – at this point we were heading into the wind which was unpleasant as the rain was stinging on our faces – walking with the wind was pretty challenging as it nearly blew us over and on a few occasions actually did!

SaturatedA pow wow at Vellake Corner where we decided to change the routes again – super-saturated peat!


Here is the West Okement thundering down the Valley – note you can’t get to the beginning of the bridge!

We finished our day out at 2pm at the Dartmoor Inn near Lydford. This is what 10 Tors is all about – it teaches young people resilience, endurance, leadership, tenacity, a love of Dartmoor(!!) and a sense of achievement.

In case you think we have been cavalier yesterday- let me give you the stats – we had approaching 50 young people walking today – along with 11 adult supervisors and 4 young people who have already completed 55 mile 10 Tors. Of the 11 adults 4 are qualified Moorland Leaders, one was a former senior officer in the Royal Marines, another is a serving Police Officer and one is a member of the Dartmoor Rescue Service. We don’t do this lightly.

Being there when Dartmoor is extreme is a privilege and something I wouldn’t want to miss – a day to remember.