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

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.

10 Tors 2016 – congratulations and respect

Another amazing 10 Tors weekend has come and gone. Here are some photographs of the teams that I have helped train and manage finishing their weekend of walking.

WT 35 4This is the National Trust Wild Tribe 35 mile Team approaching the finish

Wild Tribe 35 2It is just after 9am on Sunday morning – they are the 3rd team in overall (out of 400) just 12 minutes behind the first team Torquay Scouts

Wild Tribe 35 3
What an achievement – congratulations to all involved

Wild Tribe 45 1
Here come the National Trust Wild Tribe 45 mile team – it is around 10am – they are the third 45 mile team in!

Wild Tribe 45 2
Taking the ‘Wild’ theme very seriously – from zebras to apes, penguins, frogs and …. I’m not sure what the 5th right is?

Wild Tribe 45 3
Absolutely brilliant

WT 55 1
Here comes the National Trust Wild Tribe 55 mile team – in at 11.45am – the 3rd 55 mile team in! A theme has emerged …

WT 55 2
Still smiling after all those miles

WT 55 3
A team photo at the finish with Tony Owen who has helped the National Trust and the young people make this happen

WT 55 4
I managed to get to their medal ceremony. In previous years we have been waiting for our 55 mile teams to come in at 4pm and even 5pm! To get in before midday is an awesome achievement.

WT 55 5
A photograph of the 55 milers at 6.15am on Saturday – just before we all head to the start – do I see apprehension as well as excitement?

TBGS 35B 1
The National Trust Wild Tribe teams work and train hand in glove with Torquay Boys Grammar School. Without the support, encouragement and very hard work of Dr Roy Colville and the school generally, the NT couldn’t do 10 Tors. Here come the TBGS 35 mile A team approaching the finish.

TBGS 35B 2
Another amazing performance – in before 1pm. Sorry I missed the TBGS 35 mile B team as I was at the medal ceremony for the 55ers.

TBGS 45 1
Here come the TBGS 45 mile team – there are girls in the Sixth Form at TBGS and two of who are in this team – team in at 10.30am – a very impressive performance

For those of us who manage 10 Tors Teams the ‘weekend’ starts on Thursday and finishes on Sunday – I will tell some of the other stories of the entire weekend over the coming days in this blog.

Finally, huge congratulations to all the participants, thanks to the team of TBGS staff and volunteers, thanks to the staff and volunteers from the National Trust team on Dartmoor and thanks to the Army for organising it -it was very slick and well organised.

From Scilly to Dartmoor – gigs to Tors

I’ve been really lucky!

I have been involved with two of the largest mass participation outdoor sporting events in the south west. Last week I competed in the Isles of Scilly World Gig Rowing Championships (see here, here and here) and today I’m off to the 2016 Ten Tors Challenge event.

I’m the Team Manager for the National Trust on Dartmoor (I’m now a volunteer but was previously the NT’s General Manager on the Moor). We have three teams – 35, 45 and 55 milers. We have been training for the last nine months with Torquay Boys Grammar School preparing 18 young people for the challenge. Yesterday teams of staff and volunteers from the NT and TBGS prepared the base camp (there was even a cuckoo urging everyone on). Today we have a day of briefing and preparation. The main event starts at 7am on Saturday morning.

Training has been tough this year – we have been out torrential amber warning rain and winds – see here and cold nights – see here. The teams are therefore ready to go and amazingly the weather forecast looks very good i.e. not raining and cold. Yippee.

TT pass
I collected my car pass from Okehampton Camp today after having collected the teams and volunteers ‘event’ hoodies.

Wild Tribe 55
Here is National Trust Wild Tribe 55 mile last year mid event with the Brigadier and a helicopter! How cool is that.

10 Tors 24-Jan 1
Sunset during a training walk – what a time to be on the moor

10 Tors is brilliant for young people – it teaches them two sets of life skills:-

  1. A love of the outdoors, nature and landscapes – it gets them away from their ‘screens’ for while.
  2. It also gives them fitness, grit and determination, teaches them teamwork and encourages leadership and achievement.

Just what the National Trust is trying to encourage by its support of the Wild Network.

Thank you Torquay Boys Grammar School (and Dr. Roy Colvile and Tony Owen in particular) without you the National Trust couldn’t do 10 Tors.

Icy night camping followed by whinchat, wheatear and cuckoo

We wild camped on Saturday night at Dick’s Well behind Brat Tor.

Dick's Well 1
We set up our tents in bright sunlight before our 10 Tors teams arrived later in the evening

Dick's Well 2
As darkness fell the moon rose – close by Jupiter shone brightly.

Dick's Well 4
It was a still but cold night – in the morning the tents were covered in frost

Dick's Well 3
This is my walking boot which was inside my tent all night – crusted with ice – thank goodness for my 3 season Rab sleeping bag!

Dick's Well 5
In the morning we walk back to Nodden Gate – the sun was shining again. Beside the River Lyd is this lovely matrix of habitats, moorland, gorse and small shrubs – a softly re-wilded landscape

Whinchat
Patches of gorse are great habitat for the whinchat – we saw a couple of birds on our walk back (this rather blurry photo was taken on the Islesof Scilly last year)

WheatearThere had also been a large fall of wheatear overnight. The previous day there had been a couple of birds – Sunday morning they were  everywhere. It is great to see and experience migration in action – it is such an exciting time of the year.

cuckoo-sb

Later in the morning we walked from the Willsworthy Ranges around to Lane End and saw a couple of cuckoos – our first birds of the year. The first bird we saw was a female who performed her characteristic bubbly call. Moments later a male arrived and sang the classic cuck – coo call. Both birds were being chased around by a carrion crow – cuckoos in flight can look very like a bird of prey and I suspect the crow thought they were sparrowhawks and wanted rid of them in case they predated its nest. (This photo was taken last year in Northamptonshire by my  friend Steve Brayshaw.)

 

 

 

Mend Dartmoor

The British Mountaining Council (BMC) has launched a campaign to raise £100,000 to repair various footpaths in national parks around the country. One of the projects is on Dartmoor – the footpath and bridleway that runs from Princetown down to Ditsworthy Warren. The track is well used by walkers and mountain bikers. The section from Nunn’s Cross south is in a particularly poor condition.

Here is a video about the project that has been produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority.

Nunns Cross FarmThis is part of the track in question at Nunn’s Cross Farm

Nunns Cross Farm 1

The track is widely used by people training for 10 Tors and I can certainly confirm that parts are very difficult to walk now and as a result most people walk off the track creating erosion in new areas.

I will support this as that will help make the DNPA’s money go further – here is the link if you want to help too.