The Dartmoor Gathering

Every few months the staff at Taunton Leisure enjoy having a get together to see the people we spend quite a lot of time talking to on the phone, but rarely ever see.

These gatherings usually give us an opportunity to catch up with friends, swap stories about our climbing or walking activities, discuss all the information we’ve learned from the manufacturers and talk about the kit we stock.

What we most enjoy about meeting up though is that this gives us a chance to go out for a hike or a climb with like-minded people. We also enjoy having a bit of knees up, but as these usually result in assistant managers climbing the walls (literally), we’ll save that story for another time.

Our Taunton Branch decided that the first gathering of the year would take place in Dartmoor. This proved beneficial for one big reason. Ten Tors was fast approaching and teenagers were already visiting our stores to stock up on kit, ready for their own adventures in Dartmoor. So visiting Dartmoor allowed us to experience firsthand what Ten Tors participants should expect.

The weekend started in the Prince of Wales pub (great food and atmosphere. We recommend the ham, egg and chips) in Princeton, which is the most central village in Dartmoor and is a hub for all hikers visiting the area.

The majority of us had come straight from work so it was already too late in the day to do anything other than have dinner and a pint.

At the end of the night, the few of us who don’t own a tent were given the chance to use the company Tentipi. If you’ve never heard of Tentipi before, just think of the classic tipi but made with modern fabrics. A very luxurious tent made with the best fabrics and bags of room inside. Our Safir 9 slept 6 people but still had room for 2 or 3 more.

We started the next day with Breakfast at the Plume of Feathers inn where we camped and said our goodbyes to the people who would not be able to join us on the walk.
After some preparation we set off. The weather started off with very thick mist, which is typical in areas like Dartmoor. The clouds soon broke though and we enjoyed glorious sunshine for our walk. Lucky considering it was February.

The first Tor we came too was South Hessary Tor just south of Princeton, a very gentle start to the walk. From there we headed south until coming to a cross in the path and headed west towards Burrator Reservoir This took us into a wooded, very green and very scenic part of the moors. A pleasant change to the usual bleak green and muddy browns you normally see in Dartmoor, A great area to stop for lunch. It’s also one of the lowest points, so from here it was uphill to Leather Tor, north of the reservoir and the highest part of our walk.

Climbing to the top of Leather Tor involves a small scramble but once we reached the top we had the best views of our walk. From here it was a short walk north to a small car park to stop for a drink and the walk back to Princetown to say our goodbyes before the drive home.
We decided to take the most direct route back to camp which in hindsight may not have been the best idea, but at least we got to discover what happens when you get knee deep in moor land bog.

Liam

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