Author Topic: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)  (Read 10374 times)

rdpounder

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[TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« on: 17:31:16, 03/06/12 »
 Part 1

Ruth and I have had many adventures in the Mendips, Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and the Lake District.  However, for some reason or another, we have completely neglected Dartmoor, even though it's nearer to where we live than some of the above.  So, with Ruth's daughter away for the weekend, we decided to seize the opportunity and go and break our Dartmoor duck with a 2 night wild camp and hiking trip.  We made good time down the M5 and A30, and arrived at public car park on the edge of Belstone at about 8:15 (I think, Ruth may correct me here) – it's just next to Brenamoor Common on the OS map.  A short stroll through part of Belstone village made a very pleasant start to the walk.  Whether this is typical of Dartmoor I don't know, but I immediately felt like I was in another world, somewhere very different to anywhere I'd been before...there's just something in the air there.  Ruth made a useful observation of the village pub, to be remembered on our return!
After about 10 minutes of walking on lanes we soon reached the beginning of the open access land and stepped off into the dusk, immediately walking on the banks of a beautiful river, the Taw.

Even though early in the walk, we were both snapping merrily away on our cameras.

We were in 2 minds about whether to walk on as far as we could or just make camp early.  We walked up the beautiful river, pleasantly surprised by the landscape we were seeing (my mind had Dartmoor filed under 'boring', but it was proving to be far from it).

Eventually we realised that we had probably passed the best camping spots by the river, so retraced our steps for a short distance to a nice flat area of grass by the river, which had good shelter from the breeze.

There was a bit of 'drama' when we were stuck between a bleating lamb on the other side of the river and it's mother/father on our side of the river.   I tried using my torch to show each sheep the other, in the hope that one of them would figure out how to get over the river to the other.  After a long, bleating game of stalemate the lamb ran off bleating and that was that.  Hopefully they found each other in the morning.

We awoke at around 7 to a dry but cloudy morning.  It felt great to be out in the 'wild' though.
By stepping up the bouldery embankment just behind our tents we had a good view of Belstone Common (Belstone Tor and Higher Tor).  A herd of cows were eerily making their way single file across the hillside. Ruth urged me back down to the tents for fear of attracting them towards us.

Breakfast was wolfed down and camp packed up and was started the climb up our first tor, Belstone Tor.  Blimey, it's only on the first hill that you really find out how heavy your bag is eh.

Still, it was a mercifully cool morning and it was early, time was on our side.

A lower outcrop of Belstone Tor was soon reached and we wasted no time in taking our bags off, having only put them on about 20 minutes ago!  Before leaving home I had loaded up Ruth's GPS with as many geocache coordinates as I could muster, so we both started searching around for the first one.

It was soon found
I was hoping to avoid the need to answer a 'serious' call of nature if possible, but already I needed one.  I reluctantly moved away from the summit to find a suitable spot, while Ruth carried on to the true top of Belstone Tor. 

The scattered jumble of rocks on Belstone Tor

From the top we looked west to our way on (right to left), Rowtor, West Mill Tor, Yes Tor and High Willhays.

We carried on a short distance south west along the top of Belstone Common, crossing the 'Irishman's Wall' to Higher Tor...not that we're getting into bagging tors or anything...oh no sir


From there we descended west to a footbridge over the East Okement River, just north of East Okement Farm, past the un-alarming Scary Tor.  Looking back up to our descent.

From there it was fairly steeply up a broad track alongside a stream to the edge of Okehampton firing range.  No firing today, but the warnings were there as we took a short-cut across some boggy ground

Needless to say, after that warning we didn't touch!

Dramatics mountains there may not be, but Dartmoor has it's own beauty, you really have to be there to feel it

As we crossed a road on the moor, loads of mountain bikers and orienteerers with bibs and numbers on appeared out of nowhere.  For a moment, the feelings of solitude were blown away.  I felt briefly disappointed and the number of people about.  Fortunately we were headed in different directions, and we didn't see many people again for the whole weekend.  Approaching Rowtor, West Mill Tor in the background

Rowtor

Ruth, ploughing upwards with the welcome aid of her walking poles, towards West Mill Tor

West Mill Tor, another Geocache was found up here and we took a well-earned break amongst the great rock formations


You can even plug your kettle in up here...

It's a dip down and then a fairly sloggy ascent to the highest points in Dartmoor (and the only 2 Nuttalls), Yes Tor (right) and High Willhays (left)

Reaching the summit of Yes Tor, 2nd highest point on Dartmoor


More geocaching, our next tor, High Willhays in the background.  I think that's Great Links Tor on the right horizon

More evidence of army training.  I know they can't clear everything up, but surely a load of bullet shells left on a boulder like this is a bit obvious..

Onwards to High Willhays

A few more geocaches around High Willhays


and some locals

Ruth with eyes open in nice photo shocker!

We had a good refuelling stop on High Willhays and got the map spread out to have a bit of a route planning session.  It's one of the joyfully liberating things about going on a multi-day wild-camp, you just make it up as you go along.  With our minds roughly made up, an increasingly brisk breeze moved us on.   Next stop, Great Links Tor...

Some anti-war scrawlings on Dr Who's phone box

Another geocache on the beginning of our descent off High Willhays

The smiles were slightly wiped off our faces as we realised the extent of the drop and climb that we had ahead of us.  These things are magnified when you're carrying a heavier than normal pack.

There are some beautiful gnarly old oaks trees down in this valley. Black-a-Tor copse is a nature reserve which is “one of the best examples of high altitude oak woodland in Britain”.

Having crossed some marshy ground we found a crossing point over the West Okement River and gathered ourselves for what would prove to be a hard climb with tired legs

This photo had intended to be a bit of gimmicky shot to show the red of Ruth's bag against a black and white landscape.  The fact that Ruth's hands and cheeks are glowing the same colour shows we were feeling it a bit at this point

We climbed up to Kitty Tor and chatted to a couple of young blokes who gave us some helpful pointers about boggy ground to avoid on our way on....we promptly forgot this info, too tired to take it all in when they were saying it.  None the less we managed to bypass most of the serious bog and passed a couple of army landrovers that seemed to practising winching each other out of it!  With relief we reached broad track which we followed for a few hundred metres, before branching off south towards Great Links Tor

Once at Great Links Tor we spent a while hunting around for a geocache.  After spending a good 5 minutes looking and failing to find it, Ruth announced that she realised that it was just a waypoint on her GPS, not the location of a geocache at all, doh!

Tired minds, tired bodies


But not too tired to have a proper look around Great Links Tor, which has one of the more impressive sets of rock formations on it


The bigger formation (which has a trig point around the back in this shot) involves a bit of a committing scramble move to get onto it.  I climbed down it via the crack/chimney in the middle of this photo (Ruth has some shots of that)


We had another good refuelling session. Our minds were now thinking of stopping and setting up camp, but we were determined to try and reach the area around Tavy Cleave as a friend had said that it's nice and might have some river swimming opportunities.  From Great Links Tor, we decided to head to Brat Tor, which has the Widgery Cross on it.  Fortunately it was mostly gently downhill.  We watched with a mixture of bemusement and genuine concern as a person in the distance with a dog off the lead seemed to be attracting the unwanted attention of an aggressive cow/bull(?).  A couple of times the cow charged straight at the dog.  It was so far away we couldn't really figure out if this was a farmer trying to move the cow (it was separate from all the others) or just a dog walker.  Fortunately no harm came to either party.  Without too much effort we reached Brat Tor and the Widgery Cross (and another geocache!) - http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/widg_crss.htm



(Wo)man leg


As the crow flies I knew it was far to go to the area we were thinking of camping.  Unfortunately we had to get onto the other side of these hills, Chat Tor, Sharp Tor, Hare Tor.

Once at the top of the tors, we had a VERY tussocky and slightly marshy descent over ground that had been well-trampled by cattle.  We could see the point we were heading for, the confluence of Rattle Brook, Amicombe Brook and the River Tavy. We could see where we were heading for, but were concerned as to whether there would be any good camping spots by the river – the contour lines suggested steep banks and the going underfoot was marshy.  Upon reaching the river it took a while to find a good spot, but a good spot it was that we found...happy campers!  As soon as the camp spot was found we both stripped off and were in the river to cool off...it was blooming freezing but good

By chance we had camped right near another geocache!


A feast....of sorts

Food consumed Ruth decided it was time for a nap (in my sleeping bag!)...

...so I went for a quick stroll up the hills around our camp just to see what was about.



Not the most amazing sunset in the world but it was worth the short hill climb to see...although we both realised we had picked up a couple of ticks when we came back – fortunately they hadn't yet bitten us, were just crawling about

letmeoutofhere

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #1 on: 18:18:07, 03/06/12 »
Brilliant!! thanks for this, I hope you never have Dartmoor anywhere near the 'boring ' file again. It's my favourite place. I love your camp sites and I'll be looking out for part 2 with my tongue hanging out  ::) O0

rdpounder

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #2 on: 18:27:52, 03/06/12 »
I'll be looking out for part 2 with my tongue hanging out  ::) O0

Put it away  :P
www.walkingforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=19726.0

letmeoutofhere

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #3 on: 18:43:23, 03/06/12 »
Yay! swa it almost as soon as I'd posted the last reply,doh!

gary m

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #4 on: 21:09:41, 03/06/12 »
great read, you two have wetted my appetite to wild camp soon, well done both
you have 1 life live it

pmerryman

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #5 on: 18:45:04, 04/06/12 »
Looks like you had a great time. O0
Paul

di36mg

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #6 on: 22:06:57, 07/06/12 »
I was glad to finally see pics of Ruths face.. I was becoming over familiar with the back of her head  ;D


Great pics and an area Id never considered for walking in... Didnt like the cows though   :(

rdpounder

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #7 on: 22:29:41, 07/06/12 »
I was glad to finally see pics of Ruths face.. I was becoming over familiar with the back of her head  ;D

Heh, I know what you mean actually.  It was conscious move on my part to actually get some 'posed' photos as I'm aware that all too many of my photos have Ruth walking away....simply because I stop to take one and she keeps walking.  The thing is, in terms of landscape photography, if you've got someone in the shot I think it does kind of work well if they're walking away from the camera as it subconsciously draws you into the image more.  But yeah, for the purpose of trip reports, good to see a face  O0

Glyders

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #8 on: 23:29:05, 07/06/12 »
Great adventure  O0

Well done you two  O0

afuraki

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #9 on: 19:03:01, 20/05/15 »
inspirational walk. visiting some of the tors next month :D

DevonDave

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #10 on: 09:17:54, 21/05/15 »
Excellent TR rdpounder, thanks for sharing. 

Your photos of the Army ordnance reminds me of when I was a youngster back in the 1950's and used to go walking on Dartmoor with my parents.  Back then the Army were even less careful about clearing up after themselves than they are now, and we were always finding their mortar shells and ammuntion lying around, some of it still live.  My Dad was an officer in the Navy and said he knew about these things.  He used to pick them up and take them back to the car, put them in the boot and hand them in at Tavistock police station on the way home.  Can you imagine walking into a police station these days and dumping a load of mortar shells and live rounds on the counter? ;D   I always wondered what the police did with it all - probably chucked it in the nearest bin!  ;D

Welsh Rambler

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #11 on: 22:01:42, 21/05/15 »
Enjoyed your introduction to Dartmoor and the photographs. Well done and thanks for sharing. O0


Regards Keith

thomasdevon

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #12 on: 18:10:19, 25/05/15 »
Brilliant trip report. Not been up there for a couple of months but you have really whetted my appetite again. Thank you.

sunnydale

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #13 on: 15:20:08, 26/05/15 »
'rdpounder' posted the above TR back in June 2012!  He hasn't used this forum for a very long time, although I'm sure he'd appreciate the latest comments, were he aware of them  :)
***Happiness is only a smile away***

thomasdevon

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Re: [TR] 2 night wild camp from Belstone (part 1)
« Reply #14 on: 22:16:56, 26/05/15 »
Oh yeah. Ooops.