Week 3 – Grizzly in the Mist

Remember I said last week how the weather on Dartmoor can be changeable?   Well it isn’t always.  Sometimes the weather just stays and today Dartmoor was misty all day!  Again we were very grateful to have a compass and a GPS to help with navigation.

This week we were joined by some friends of ours (again protecting privacy lets call them Smusie and Sneve).  Important things to know about our friends; Smusie is a nurse – this comes in handy later – and Sneve is effectively a packhorse.   Sneve’s bag was akin to Mary Poppins bag but on a larger scale!  

Our training walk of 15km this week took me up 9 tors around Burrator Reservoir which is close to Tavistock and very much to the south of the moor.  I haven’t been around this area before so it was going to be exciting.  I had also been told that it was a very beautiful area too.
Our walk began at a public carpark and with no sign of the thick wet mist lifting, the first thing we did was to all put our waterproof trousers on.  I was advised it was more comfortable to put them on while you are still dry rather than wait until your walking trousers are soaked. (I had bought  a pair of Berghaus paclite waterproof trousers –  they are very lightweight, very breathable, and very easy to put on without taking your boots off thanks to a cleverly designed long side zip from ankle to hip!)
The first tor we climbed was Leather Tor.  The unremitting mist made it difficult to pick an easy route up and the way we chose called for a serious scramble to the top over huge boulders.   So cue the rock-climbing lesson………!    (Did I mention that Cecilia is a climbing instructor!) Scrambling up in between the rocks, looking carefully for each hand hold and foot hold was one of the scariest things I have ever done but the sense of satisfaction when I reached the top was awesome!
Last week I slipped on a wobbly rock and twisted my ankle slightly. Luckily we didn’t have too much ”evil grass” to contend with on today’s walk.  The only difficult bit for me was an extended area of bog and half way through this marsh my injured ankle started to swell a little.  We were unfortunately at the farthest point from the car so there seemed little point in not carrying on and finishing the planned route.   I was very lucky to have my personal medic in the form of Smusie who had carefully packed what seemed like an entire medicine cabinet in Sneve’s bag (I did say he was a packhorse!).
After strapping my ankle up with a crepe bandage and tying my boot laces a little tighter, I was good to go.   This is a top tip actually – good walking boots will provide you with good ankle support but if want a little more, wrap the laces around the top of the boot before tying them in a bow.   (I should say at the point that you should never carry on unless you really feel up to it – just see how you feel).    
We managed to get a fleeting glimpse of the Burrator Reservoir from the last tor of the day (Combshead Tor) but those few seconds were all we saw of what should have been wonderful views all day.  Probably the best sight of the day was as we approached the car! Cecilia and I couldn’t believe our eyes.  Was it a dream?  Was it a mirage?  Had I taken too many ibuprofens?  Oh no, there was actually a Mr Whippy Van awaiting us!
Never before has a Mr Whippy with a flake tasted so good!

So finally, things learnt this week………? 
  • Time for me to sort out a lightweight and useful first aid kit to keep in my rucksack. 
  • Waterproof trousers provide awesome protection and the paclite goretex material is so breathable that I can keep them on all day without overheating.
  • Maybe trying more rock-climbing would be fun.
  • Mr Whippy is best after a hard walk.
  • And finally, I am looking forward to having the help of a porter on my trek up Kili. …and I hope they can carry as much as Sneve!

Kate J

If you would like to help support me in my challenge, you can sponsor me by visiting www.justgiving.com/kate-ainsley  

If you would like more information about the amazing Save the Children FAST project, please visit the Save the Children website on www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/fast.html

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