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Second Wild Camp on Dartmoor - 11.6.12

I set off four weeks ago on 14th May into mist and rain, as I gained elevation around noon the rain turned to freezing wind blown hail. Bess was soaked (I'd left her thick coat behind thinking it may not be needed!) and my mind was shot with horizontal hail striking my head. Some may like rain, but it does nothing for me, especially this kind of battering. Prudence suggested abandoning any idea of camping out. I often listen to my gut, so I headed back to the car. I have years ahead of me to conquer bad weather! At the moment I'm quite content being a fair weather camper.

So on Monday 11th June I set off again, this time with a gentle reassuring breeze a few clouds and the sun. Perfect hiking and camping weather!
My walk was mostly the same route as last time, which I cut short in May and my camp in March.
I passed Sourton Tor and headed down to the reservoir, it was by a stream that I filled up both my water bottles (with a bit of a heavy heart) and treated with pre mixed Aqua Mira from an MLD dropper and then headed up to Yes Tor.

I stopped to eat a roll, enjoying a little sun, the clouds were high and of no concern and remembering 4 weeks previously being pummelled by hail. This was fun and enjoyable, that wasn't! High Willhays was next then I cut cross country to the military road that took me to Okement Hill and then over rough, boggy moorland towards Black Hill. The weather looked very threatening so I donned Bess's coat and put my wind cheater back on. Thankfully the black ominous clouds kept away. They looked like they were dropping rain nearby.

From Black Hill was Cut Hill. There was a path of sorts here and there but mostly it was wet rough cross country. I made pretty good progress. From there I followed a better path on the whole to Fur Tor.
The time was about 3pm.

It was leaving Fur Tor that I twisted my left ankle. Seem to be getting clumsy in my old age! Actually in my defence it wasn't entirely my fault. 9/10 I use a pole to check the ground in front if needed. Navigating past the rocks on the westerly side I looked down and saw a clump of grass and assumed it was solid and didn't check it with my pole, ok maybe a bit my fault!, and stepped off the rock I was standing on into a small divot! That took me down with a moment of worry – I thought I heard something in my ankle! In my defence the foothold looked solid, I had no reason to be suspicious of it to check it. I got up quickly and headed back up and down the northerly slope directly to Little Kneeset. I had absolutely no pain or swelling at all that night, it was only after getting home on the tueday that is swelled a fraction. No pain at all. In fact if I didn’t look I’d barely know (even now – Thursday night.) As you will see I walked out on the Tuesday fine and wondered about camp Monday night fine. I call it ankle strengthening!

I wanted to check out Amicombe Brook as I think there are potential camp spots there. I'll look another time.

I got to Little Kneeset at about 3.30 and started to not only make a pigs ear of pitching the Trailstar but also in wrong place!......

I headed down from Fur Tor towards the stream, crossed this easily, then stopped to fill my two 2L Platys and my two 400ml Nalgene bottles. Once this was done I carried them up the hill. I must admit I’m glad it wasn’t far. Maybe it was lugging the water that distracted me or maybe it was just my mind but I saw a rock and thought that’s where “my” camp is. The ground seemed a bit lumpier than I remembered, but never mind this was “the” spot from last time (it wasn’t!) so it must be me. As it was dry I though lets get the bug bivi down first in a nice flat bit and then pitch the Trailstar over the top. Try as I might, I could not get a good pitch. My poles were leaning, it was the wrong shape just didn’t look right and I was very uncomfortable with it! I’m not quite sure what distracted me, whether it was Bess had wondered off or what but I looked up and saw some more stones. Bugger, that was my camp spot from last time! I’d stopped 100 feet too soon! So I made two or three trips back and forth to get all the stuff from the “incorrect” pitch to the correct place.

Exactly the same place as last time! Just as I arrived it started to rain, oh dear, only light but it looked ominous just beyond and I must admit a little panic set in for a few seconds. Thankfully, this time as the ground was somewhat better (though still the odd lump! And not me!) I didn’t put the bug bivi down first but saved time and worry and got to pitching the Trailstar pronto. I have to admit to getting a pretty good pitch first up, though I did lower the central pole a bit to improve the width slightly. I got it straight and thankfully the one lump (other than me) was right in the middle. I had placed it to the inch of where I wanted it. In this position I could lie with my head at the door on totally flat ground and if the weather had drastically worsened I could have lain at the back on flat ground. Perfect.

I positioned the bug bivi, then got out the polycro sheet, yes wrong way around, but quickly rectified that. I dragged everything under cover, the rain was falling steadily though not heavily. I got Bess under very quickly. Neither of us got more than a little misting of rain on us. I was very happy with that. From under cover I pulled out the sleeping mat and pumped it up, positioned the quilt (I had a sleeping bag as well, in case I wasn’t warm enough). I had brought the PHD quilt as I wanted to try it out.

I found the quilt fine wearing three layers of clothing and trousers. As it was cool in the rain I got under the quilt.

After getting everything set up inside the rain finally halted, it hadn’t lasted long to be honest, and I was thankful for that. The sun soon popped out and was blazing through the silnylon and I soon heated up, I had to get out! I hooked my phone to the charger and wondered about outside the Trailstar. The time between 6 and 8 pm actually went quite quickly, I ate a meal, tried to Tweet and got chatted up by a herd of cows! These cows were very friendly and inquisitive and got quite close. Bess was very good and just lay by the door of Trailstar. At one point I did chase them off, they were getting a bit too close for my liking.

It started to cool off about 8pm and I was starting to feel hungry again, a good sign when my appetite is about. So I headed back under cover at about 8.30 and tried to sort myself out, cook another meal and make another tea. It was not dark until after ten, I read a bit and listened to the maddening call of the skylarks. At first a lovely song, but in your ear for hours it was a bit much at times! They silenced soon after dark, but one did decide to serenade me at about 11pm, he could probably tell I was not his sort and shut up! Until about 3 bloody am when they started again! I know because they woke me up, I was just trying to nod back off again when a light shower passed overhead, this kept me awake for awhile, pitta patta on the silnylon shelter. I think I nodded off about 4.30, or cat napped until about 6am. Once awake I knew I’d not fall back to sleep. At home I’d stay in bed for “quite” a bit longer, but here I had Gizzy and Queen’s tennis to try to get back to and I had a two hour walk and then a two hour drive. As it is I didn’t rush. I never rush (apart from when I’m walking!). I boiled water to make my porridge about 7am, made a tea and started to pack away.

I was unsure how easy it would be to pack my rucksack under cover, bearing in mind this is a frameless pack as well, so I had to release the air from the bed, fold it and place it at the back of the pack, it was actually easier under there than I expected. Well, I didn’t know. Once that was in I double packed the sleeping bag, I had not used (I never removed it), and then placed the quilt on top of that. I double packed those items as I fear ingress of water at the bottom of the pack. Just a safety measure!

I then packed in the rest of my kit, despite the looks of it in the video, it was reasonably well organised (for me) and packed in quite quickly. I think I need to get a tiny bit of air in air bed when back panel in future, it had slightly concertinaed during the walk back, but no issue. Just something to remember. I have done that on walks around Cheddar. So I know to do it!

Once all was in that was under cover it was time to get Bess out and take the Trailstar down and packed away. I think the whole process of starting to fill the pack to leaving was about an hour or so. It is quicker to leave camp than prepare for it, which takes about a month of thought.

The walk to Green Tor from camp on Great Kneeset took about three quarters of an hour, I was going some and consider that a good time. It might be useful information if they are ever firing on that range on the second day, I know the time to get off it!

I saw many cows on the way back, I think they had passed the word on than a man likes chasing cows!

From there it was fairly easy though I missed many human paths and followed sheep and cattle trails mostly to Great Links Tor. From there to Brat Tor. I stopped at Brat Tor for a few minutes. Then down to the car. I think I made the car by about 10.15. Two hours from when I left camp 8 kms away.

Total distance was 33kms. I think the first day was 25 kms and over 900 meters of ascent. The total ascent was 1145m. I need to try to remember to reset the SatMap at the end of the day, after writing the info down! Ave moving speed was 4.7kph Max speed 9.3 kph.

For anyone interested, below is a list of kit taken.

I was very impressed with the MLD Prophet pack.

I used quite a bit but not all. I never used the sleeping bag, the quilt was enough. Nor did I need the buff, hat or gloves, but as all so light and I had no idea, it was best to play it safe! I used the MSR Blizzard stake to remove a peg that had shed its top! I didn’t need to dig any holes. My body did what it does best in these situations usually, it shut down that part! If you will pardon the pun, it will be interesting, to me, not you, if that is a regular (that is the pun!) occurrence!

Last time I totally forgot about the tooth paste pouch, this time I just couldn’t be bothered! So I see that as a significant step forward! Of course the first aid and repair kits were not used. I did use my feet bags once at camp, but one had a hole! So once it stopped raining (Monday evening) and went outside I put my wet shoes and socks on, my feet were warm and actually helped dry the socks and shoes!

As an aside, I did notice some dew on the grass on the inside of the Trailstar, but Bess and I were absolutely dry in the morning. There was very little if any condensation of note on the inside of the TS either. I presume the breeze under it helped there.

Weather report. At the apex of the shelter at 10pm the temperature was 9.3c, RH 89.3%, Dew point 7.9c and the WB was 8.8c. On the ground 12.1c – eh!, 87.3% RH, 10.2c Dew point and 10.9c WB. I’ll let you all decipher that! I did think about taking measurements in the morning, but wanted to get going. Or couldn’t be arsed might be more to the point. Next time, maybe. I was intrigued by the temperature differential. Seemed Irish!

I did read a bit of the evening (not in the morning, reason? See above lol!) and had no need thankfully for my waterproofs.

Food, this is interesting, for me anyway. I think I can reduce Bess’s food by about 100g, as that is what was left when I weighed it back home (and probably about that last time). I can probably reduce my food for now by one lot of porridge. I could probably reduce the bars, as I did eat several on the drive home (only one left in pack), but for now will keep them up. I ate both boil in bag meals and both potatoes. Certainly significantly more was eaten this time than last time! So thinning out too much not wise! I might be able to reduce the meths, I took two bottles and used half of one bottle and maybe, dare I say reduce my tea bags as I only seem to have a couple or so (I reuse the bag once!).

I didn’t use the tripod, but like my book, which I did read, I think it is definitely worth keeping. My book is non negotiable!

Dartmoor Camp List JUNE.

MLD Prophet all options Frameless 629
MLD cuben X Large dry bag / for Sleeping bag. 54

MLD Silnylon Trailstar + lines in cuben stuff sack 639
MLD Cuben Bug Bivi cuben stuff sack 150
Pegs 5 Easton 9", 3 6" Ti v, 6 MLD 6". 170
MSR Blizzard stake (Trowel) 1 23

Sub Total 982

SynMat UL 7 445
PHD Sleeping bag 200/900 MLD bag. 619
PHD Quilt inc tie cords & MLD bag 464
Exped Pillow pump 158
MultiMat 3' cut off. 79

Sub Total 1765

MLD 850ml ti pot inc string pouch 106
MLD 450ml ti pot 37
Trail Designs MLD 850 Ti Tri cone 48
Trail Designs 10-12 burner 15
J Cloth tiny piece! 1
Light My Fire / Fire steel 28
Lighter 16
Foil (aluminium) 10
Measure pots (3) 4
Candles (1) 13
LifeVenture Lexan spoon 14
Spoon - MLD 16
Trail Designs Caddy 89
Bottle (2) for meths 175/175 = 350ml 292

Sub Total 689

Two 2L Platypus containers 36g 72
Nalgene 400ml (90g each) TWO! 180
Map / case 140
Petzl XP Core head light 83
Compass Silva Type 4/54 38
Silva ADC Pro 65
Phone / aLokSak 142
SatMap No case. Goes in one MLD pouch. 230
Oakley Half Jacket Glasses / bullet case 119
SteriPen Adventure Opti Water Purifier + case 128
Aqua Mira (empty 8g) 35 drops. 10
Hand gel 23
Suncream pot 7g 22
Insect repellent cream 30% DEET 12
Dyneema cord 2mm spare 10m one piece 30

First Aid kit in Ziplok bag. 140
Leatherman CS Style Knife 41
Petzl e+Lite 47
Lighter 17
Lipsalve 9
Whistle 9
Body Glide Anti Chaff 5
Pod First Aid Dry Bag (Emergency items) 25

MagLite Solitaire AAA 24
Waterproof matches 12. 8
Shock Cord 24" 6
40' Dynema Cord 1mm Emergency only. 8
Duct tape 26
Seam Grip 10
Exped Textile Glue 7
Rubber bands 4
SynMat patches 4
Ear plugs 0
Plastic / Freezer bags for Shoes / Feet 19
Ace Bandage 52
Spare cuben material 0
Exped Dry Bag XX Small Green for repairs. 27

Toothbrush 5
Toothpaste pot (pot 8g) 15
Soap 4
Towel Vaude 16
Hankies 2 10
aLocSak 12

Teck Net inc lead / adaptor. 199
Ear Phones for phone 14
Spare phone bat / aLokSak 36

Book 346
Alwynch Book Lined writing pad 130
Pen Inka 16
ZipLoc bag 12

Toilet paper 26
Waste Pod stuff sack inc 6g plastic bag 66


Sub Total 3517


ChocFish Hoody 375
TNF Leggings 91
Smartwool Light Hiker 69
Liner Gloves Icebreaker 22
Buff scarf 37
ChocFish Beanie 25
Arcterxy Switchback shirt 211
MLD Cuben dry bag Medium 19

Berhause Paclite trousers 198
Berghause Paclite Smock 259
MLD Mitts eVent 42

Sub Total 1348


Tea bags / Marvel (50g) / sweeteners 102

Actual Packed weight 102

Daytime Food Kcals
Rolls 420 800
Elevenses Ginger 170
Elevenses Chocolate 182
Frusli Red berry 113
Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix 167 118

Actual Packed weight 587 1383

Evening Food
LWWF Staff Chicken Casserole 289 178
LWWF Fellside Beef cass 295 208
Potato (2 lots) 100 300
Porridge (50/20/10g) 80 285
Elevenses Ginger 170
Elevenses Chocolate 182
Frusli Blueberry 113
Nature Valley Oats and Choc 162 195

Actual Packed weight 979 1631

Porridge (50/20/10g) 2 Portions. 160 570
Elevenses Ginger 170
Elevenses Chocolate 182
Nature Valley Oats and Choc 195
Nature Valley Chewy Mixed Berry 118
Jordans Breakfast bars (2) 242 294

Actual Packed weight 452 1529

Total weight of Food & Drink (not water) 2120 4543

TOTAL in PACK with food. NOT water . 11104

Pacer Poles Carbon (120cm = A/Stop) 524
Camera NEX 7, paracord & 18-55mm + hood. 562
Cloth 6
Aquapac Medium waterproof camera bag 103

ChocFish T Shirt 187
Rohan Pants 51
Smartwool Liner Socks 39
Mountain Hardwear light Convertible Trousers 387
Rohan cap 52
Mountain Harwear Canyon LS 246
Arcteryx Squamish Hoody wind 135
Shoes 660
Watch Sunto Advizor 54


Total Carrying 14110 14110

Bess List
Pack Palisades 850
Day Coat 155
Bed Highlands 351
Bess Night Ruffwear K9 360
Dog Bowl 30
Food 600
Schmackos 160
Dog biscuits Shapes 60
Trek Towel 80*60cm 105
Trek Towel 110*60cm 147
Polycro MLD 8.5*5 + ditty 72
MLD Ti pegs 6 60
OookWorks BessBed 131
Bess Total. 3081

That is a link to the YouTube video of said walk.