Week 4 – Sunshine Tors

This week I got to choose the route – so, as Pablo pointed out to me, I wasn’t allowed to moan about any of the terrain I encountered!   As it turned out, the route was great but the unexpected gorse was not good It was hard not to complain!  The best bit of today was the first use of my new CamelBac…….Hooray!  No more nasty insipid liquid!  Instead loads of yummy water on tap all day JJ
Week 4 route,
We set off from the main car park in Bellever woods – anyone who has been here will tell you how beautiful it is, and today with the sun shining brightly, it was absolutely stunning.  After not being able to see much last week, we really appreciated it and got to make the most of the camera.   
The first kilometre of the walk hugged the banks of the sparkling East Dart river.  We passed the remains of the Snaily House and then crossed the river over large stepping stones before a steep ascent up to Laughter Tor.  The amazing view from this first tor had us all smiling.  We could see our entire day’s planned route laid out before us – 7 more tors, from Bellever Tor to Hartland Tor.
Our next tor, Bellever Tor, had even better views!  A magnificent 360 degree panoramic view.  (I could have quite happily stayed all day – lying in the warm sunshine soaking up the scene was lush!)
The stunning bridge at Bellever
We left Bellever to head for Crockern Tor.  This turned out to be the hardest part of the day.  I had decided to zip off the bottom of my convertible walking trousers to wear them as shorts.  This was really good until the mile section of exceptionally prickly and unavoidable gorse.  Then we had to pick our way through famous “evil grass” (grassy tussocks) and after that we were forced to make a very big detour to avoid the wettest bog we have encountered so far.  Eventually we made it through and were pleased to have a short easy section along the main road before heading up again.   While we were making our way along the main road, we were passed by a few “brave” people running a 32 mile ultra- marathon from Princetown – we were really hot just walking so I cannot imagine how these Dartmoor Discovery runners felt!
After Crockern Tor we followed the ridge to  Littaford Tors, Longaford Tor and Higher White Tor.  It seemed really appropriate that the area between Higher White Tor and Lower White Tor was carpetted in soft white cotton grass.
Climbing Tor 32 – Longaford Tor
 We knew the next section, from Lower White  Tor  to our last tor of the day, Hartland Tor would be tricky. We couldn’t really make out from the map which route would be the easiest to choose.   We decided to head off and make our way through as best we could…… and tricky it certainly was, and prickly ( more ouchie! gorse (made extra ouchie!! it seemed on my slightly sunburnt legs).  But determination got us through the gorse, bracken and bog and our last view from Hartland Tor made it all worthwhile.
The last leg was on a nice easy path right back to the car.  In total today, we walked over 22km ( about 13 miles).   A tough day with  lots of challenges – but we made it.   And I won the competition between the three of us about who drank the most during the day – also, of course, I also won the other trophy “Who’s Peed Most”.
So finally, things learnt this week.   CamelBacs are fab, convertible trousers are also fab.  Gorse & bracken make not-so-awesome leg exfoliators (but at least it looks like I’ve really been roughing it!).  (And here is another top tip from Pablo – “Check for ticks when you have been walking through bracken”).  I have now learnt that there are symbols on the map that mean boggy area but sadly there are no symbols to show gorse !  Perhaps Ordance Survey could start mapping it as part of their 220th year celebrations – After today, I would certainly be the first in the queue to buy a new revised edition.
Seriously though, the next bit of kit I really really want is a nice new rucksack with an air gap against my  back.  I really need to try and reduce the amount I am sweating! (this might explain the amount of hydration I needed!)
Kate  J


Next week – Where’s the emergency shelter?!

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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