Week 5 – Where’s the emergency shelter?!

Now, remember I said back on week 2 that Dartmoor had its own weather system?  That it was a little changeable up on the moor?  This week, Dartmoor proved this more than ever!

Today’s training walk was from the Dartmoor Inn, Lydford.  We made a nice early start – heading off from the car at around 8am and Smusie and Sneve were coming with us again today.   Interestingly Smusie had her own backpack today, although it did seem considerably smaller than Sneve’s!!

Our first tor of the day, Brat Tor (or Bray Tor – not actually sure of its proper name, it seems to vary depending on what you are reading!) but on the top of it, is Widgery Cross.  A stunning cross which was erected to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee (I read this in Crossings Guide to Dartmoor – its well worth a read!).   The path up to the tor was wide and pretty smooth – we weren’t used to such luxuries!   But it was pretty steep and I must confess I struggled.   The first tor is always the hardest to climb – but with a little (ok, a lot…) of encouragement from Cecilia, I made it.   The sun was shining and the view was stunning.
Top of Bray Tor
From here we headed off to Arms Tor  – again we were spoilt with a nice grassy path to walk on.   And once we’d reached the top, we had to take the photographic proof of course (cue humorous pictures of all of us hiding behind the rock with just our arms in the air!!).    Next stop was Green Tor and coffee/tea break.   On our way we passed the ruins of Bleak House – its incredible to remember that people would live and make a living on the moors.  PS I am pretty sure it isn’t where the BBC filmed the ‘Bleak House’ drama though – it’s a bit sparse!
Having been just in T shirts for the day so far, it was a bit of surprise when the drizzle descended!  Although I did have sufficient time for my tea and banana break!   Actually Pablo and Sneve were both eating their bananas at the same time so Cecilia managed a sneaky pictures which looks like a Fyfe’s advert!    

Tea break over, time to put on the waterproofs!   This is where I was really grateful for the Berghaus PacLite trousers that I have.  Not only are they really light so they aren’t any bother to carry with me at all times, but with the zipper which goes from hip to ankle, it means that I can put them on really quickly without having to take off my boots!
From tea break, we headed on to the Dunna Goats – Lower and Higher – although given the amount of sheep dung on the tor, we renamed Lower Dunna Goat – “Load Of Dung Of Goat Tor”…. Not sure Dartmoor National Trust will go for it to be renamed properly though!   Next stop was Great Links Tor.   This was a lovely tor to look at – I love the ones which have piles and piles of stones on top of each other!   So a little more rock climbing was called for – hey, I’m getting good at this!    We piled on to Hunt Tor – and now the rain really started!   I was very pleased for my fantastic Berghaus coat keeping me warm and dry – again it is PacLite so lightweight but really waterproof.   We managed to take a photo on the top but it was far too wet for my little chalk board sign!
Next stop was our planned lunch stop, Kitty Tor.   In a huge contrast to Hunt Tor, we were back stripping back the clothing layers – all just in t shirts!   See what I mean about the weather being changeable?  Again it just highlights the need to be prepared…… and it was going to get worse!  Given that we were running a little ahead of our schedule, we all decided to head on to the next tor for lunch……. Maybe we should have stayed put for lunch but hindsight is a wonderful thing!
Steng-A-Tor was our next destination – and this was a tor with seating!  Perfect for lunch you would have thought?   Yes, apart from the rain – which had started again.   Everybody!!!  Waterproofs back on!!!   We navigated around the boggy parts of the tor to find a slightly sheltered area – from wind at least!   Whilst we all ate our lunches, I started to get chilly so out came more layers from my backpack.  I had two T shirts, a fleece, jacket, gloves and still I couldn’t get warm enough.   Luckily Cecilia had packed her Emergency Shelter.  Now I must confess I had teased her about always packing this – despite her being the expert!   An emergency shelter is essentially a tent minus the guy ropes and poles.   You climb inside, make sure that you are sitting on all of the edges so that no weather can get in and within a minute you are lovely and toasty.  Seriously toasty!  It protects you from the elements in the event that you need to escape them – such as if someone in your party is injured – someone can wait with them protected from the elements while you wait for help!   It genius!  We had a 4-man one and Cecelia and I climbed inside and I was as happy as a sandpig J

Next stop after lunch was Gren Tor – oh yes sadly I was made to leave my lovely cocoon L.   Gren Tor again was a little to moist for a sign but we managed a photo.   Our final stop though was Great Nodden, we were supposed to take the hardcore ‘straight up the side’ route but given how inclement it was, how perhaps the ground might be a little dubious and besides, here is a lovely gravel path – we took the easier (and much longer admittedly) route to the top – sadly here it was just too wet for the cameras and there really wasn’t much to be seen through the rain!

So things learnt this week – how changeable the weather really can be and again how important it is to be prepared, clohing wise.   You must take layers – lots of thin layers to trap the heat in between and you’ll be much warmer than with just one big jumper on.  Also how great waterproofs are – you can only imagine how awful it must be to be soaked through and miles from home!   And finally, never take the mickey out of a professional mountain leader with an emergency shelter – you never know when you might need one  J

Kate J

Next week – Gorse, Gorse, a Kingdom for my Gorse.

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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