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Tony Hobbs | profile | all galleries >> My Walks. >> Templer Way with the Dartmoor Search and Rescue (Ashburton) team 22.4.12 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Templer Way with the Dartmoor Search and Rescue (Ashburton) team 22.4.12

I set off alone at 8.45 having had breakfast and a quick chat with one of the Dartmoor Search and Rescue guys who said as it was chilly it was ok to get started ahead of the main group. Being so independent I really needed no second bidding to get going.

The first few minutes were a little bit of guesswork as to which path to take to find the start of the disused railway line that marks the start of the Templer Way, but once found it was easy to follow, the sun was shining and I was quite content, one man and his dog. In fact this was the most relaxed I have been on Dartmoor for a long time. Similar but different, perhaps, part of something, but apart of it. My mind was telling me I had a mission, temporarily stay ahead of the main party. That is nothing personal, just me. Mind my own time. Bid my own way. The Last of the Mohicans.

The route appeared to be well posted but a few arrows did point in odd directions and had me reaching for map and gps on a couple of occasions.

When I arrived at Haytor car park I was given tide times. I know this because I looked at the note the day after! I had noted the emergency numbers though.

At one field near the start I stopped to top up water. After said top up from a very shallow stream, I walked towards a gate and a road beyond it. The way was "blocked" by an S & R team member expressing his concern that I'd not seen the bull in the field. I have to admit a little insolence from me as even though I'd not seen said bull I was not in the least worried. I have to also admit this is where "organized" things and I don't mix. I donít like others feeling responsible for me. I also muttered after, health and bloody safety to myself! There are many cows, though no bulls that I'm aware of, that I regularly meet around Cheddar, my native weekly walk, many with lethal horns. They all give me a wide birth! If I had died that day impaled on a horny beast it would have been entirely my fault. Iím quite sure some horny beasts are wellÖÖ.!

The paths and tracks themselves were very good and offered few surprises. A tiny bit of mud at one section but this was nothing compared to Cheddar in many places and my feet were never more than marginally damp in my trail running shoes. Talking feet, they did well, no problems there.

For the first time in a long time I was actually quite happy and content on a walk away from Cheddar. I'm unsure of the reasons why but suspect it was that I knew the main group was behind me and I intended to stay affront of it for the majority of the walk, aiming to let it catch me at the estuary. But I think despite stops my speed kept me ahead. The only time I regretted being away from the group was at the very end. However, without hesitation I'd do the same again but stay on path to let them catch me rather than set up my stove at the back of a field!

Let me briefly describe the route. From Haytor Down the tramway parallels the road and heads downhill, probably the ďsteepestĒ part down towards Yarner Wood, skirting the wood. There was a small shower as I passed through the wood but it came of nothing, the path was easy and the path of the tramway was visible. Heading down to Lower Down and the now infamous bull out on to the road where another kindly team member pointed the way onwards. (They were dotted about periodically). There was a bit of road walking towards Belle-Vue and another wood. The arrows here were a bit haphazard! I ate a roll and got more water in here. The water was standing water, but I did not croak a death. I purified it using a small UV purifier. Coming out of the wood to a roundabout, this did momentarily confuse me as I was sure I had gone all the way around it by accident, but I hadnít, itís a very big roundabout. That led to Stover Country Park and another roll. I met another team member here and was told the main group was about 15 minutes behind. So in actuality, it had probably stayed the same time behind. One big advantage to my eyes going alone is that pee stops are easy! I was able to eat when I wanted and stop for water without interfering with others. Group walking is still very alien to me and I had no problem being alone. For those that ďknowĒ me or have read my other diary entries, that will make more sense and in no way is meant as any offence to others.

I then headed off to find and follow the disused Stover Canal. Again this was posted and easy to follow and find. I did access my map frequently, as I wanted to 1, confirm the arrows, and 2, know where I was on the map. The route crossed the whole of the OS map, so I had to access the map three times and refold it.

Just passed Jetty Marsh Nature Reserve towards the end of the canal (disused!) is a bridge. There were conflicting arrows, one said to cross the bridge the other said go straight on. Of course I took the wrong one and ended up on the outskirts of Newton Abbot, an about turn of about 5 minutes had me back at the bridge, up and over and towards two more team members who confirmed, 1, I was going the right way and 2, they had done the same thing previously!

From here I followed signs a little road walking and out to the estuary. It was about here that I started to think Iíll see if the group would catch me up, though I made little effort to actually slow down. Slow walking and I donít really get on. I find it hard work. Tough old life, inií! I guess maybe I was finding every excuse in the book to keep going. I was happy and content, what more could I ask for at this stage of my life and where I have been in my life and wherever I am going in it.

There were times during the walk where I leap frogged others and they leap frogged me, mostly couples or twos on the same walk within the team. So I was not the only one not in the group. I loosely use the term group as I think it was quite small.

The estuary is about 5km long and I walked just above high tide, the tide was low! So there was little chance of me being washed out to sea so you can wipe that smile off your face. When I got to Combe Cellars I thought this would be a good stopping place for more rolls and get the burner out and boil some water for a tea and see if the group wandered past. Now, it was quite breezy, and my excuse was that I went to the rear of the green area by some boats to get out of the wind. Yes, that seems lame enough. But Combe Cellars is a pub and I honestly didnít think they would be too chuffed someone making a cuppa on the lawn. Yes, that might wash. So I hid. And for my sins my stove broke!

I set up my stove, a gas burner, boiled water for a tea, oh did I need that! I saw no group and considered moving on. No, letís see if said group appeared. I went to make a second tea, then remembered my boil in bag meal, yes, letís cook. For me thinking about cooking, ok, heating a bag of food up out and about is something, even at home it would be something!, so I boiled the old bag. It was a few months out of date so needed eating. It was beef bolognas, not my best choice but thought give it a shot. It was ok, leave it at that, must admit I was quite full from my rolls, I was never going to go hungry this walk! Bess enjoyed the remainder. I put the stove on for a second tea.

It may have been about this time that I saw a few scattered bods in red sit on the far wall. I felt this was the group. It was good to see them. They never saw me. I tried to put my stove away but the arms on it had jammed solid, one fell off in my hands, shoot! The group got up and moved off. I put the burner in Bessís pack, I did not want it piercing anything of mine! I put the remainder of Bessís water in my bottles, packed her bag, packed mine, a frameless MLD Burn pack. Quick note here, this is a superb pack and very comfy, I filled it, it weighed about 7 kgs and I barely registered its presence! Fab kit.

I got going, a new mission, catch the blighters. Naturally I mean that very fondly. I just add that in, in case any offence is taken, but it had better not be. Even my pace was unable to catch up. I could see three walkers and two walkers spaced. By the end of the estuary I caught tail end Charlie. A team member and two walkers including a young girl. I was mightily impressed she had walked the 17.3 miles!! I am glad I had caught them up as they lead the way to the pub! Alone Iíd have followed the Templer Way signs into town! So Karma had not deserted me.

Once at the pub Bess, yes, Bess and I received a certificate of completion and I met Alan, the Tweeter at Dartmoor Search and Rescue who had been behind me until Coombe Cellars. It was a pleasure to meet him and his wife, even if it was briefly, as another clanger from me was when the driver of the mini bus asked if anyone wanted first lift back to Haytor I said yes please. God almighty, I wasnít brunged up like that!

I actually felt a little sad leaving. It was a good and gentle way into something new, so I hope they do the walk again next year and I shall endeavour to walk more with the group, maybe 10 minutes not 5 like this time!

Writing this has been a hoot and made me smile all the way through. I ask for no more than that. I hope you all had a small smile and a chuckle, even if itís at my expense ;-)

Thank you to all at the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Ashburton) for organising and allowing a nutter to come along for the ride.

If anyone would like to donate money to them Iím sure they would welcome it.
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River Teign / estuary.
River Teign / estuary.
River Teign / estuary.
River Teign / estuary.
River Teign / estuary.
River Teign / estuary.
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