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Tony Hobbs | profile | all galleries >> My Walks. >> Dartmoor, my walk with my Dog, Bess, on a soggy moor. tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Dartmoor, my walk with my Dog, Bess, on a soggy moor.

I am typing this with my feet soaking in Hibiscrub. Well, what do you expect with me, if its good enough for the dog its good enough for my feet. I have a pair of nail scissors handy, I will see if there is any dead skin that needs to be hacked off my battered little toe/s.

Nope, didnít have the guts, mind you, it is tender, the left little toe. I cut into the dead skin, but did not remove. It is just hanging on, it is lose underneath. I donít want it trying to gain a foot hold, hehehehe, on my toe, once the red is less tender, that dead stuff is outa here. But not just yet.

I walked 27.8kms, with a total ascent of 1005m in 8 and a half hours. Moving time was 6 hours and 7 minutes. Ave speed 3.3kph. Ave moving speed 4.5kph. Gotta love the SatMap for the info it gives. I fully charged it prior to leaving and it only used the first bit of battery power. So it would have gone on for quite a while longer. Longer than I would have done.

I started at the Dartmoor Inn car park, well, the car park beneath Brat Tor. I got there at about 8am following a 2 hour drive. Brat Tor had a veil of mist over it. I would not gaze on the cross that stands proudly above the Tor for another 8 hours.

There was thankfully no rain. But it was misty. I had my breakfast, Shreddies in hot milk, I use my own gas boiler for that. Canít beat a belly full of hot Shreddies before a walk. I started the walk at about 8.45.

My first port of call was Sourton Tor, the path was easy to follow, even in the mist, but I still kept the map and GPS to hand. I must admit the mist makes me nervous. I was not at ease, many things on my mind.

Prior to setting off I put a back pack on Bess, she took to it without any problems. I had tried it out on a couple of very short local walks. She carried her water, I drank that, as there was plenty of water on the ground for her to lap up. My last visit to Dartmoor over a month ago was a baked and parched Dartmoor. This time it was incredibly soggy with rivers flowing much higher and faster.

My feet stayed dry until well past Sourton Tor, in fact well past Meldon Reservoir. After Meldon Reservoir it got a lot wetter, the climb out was fine that was on a track, most of my walk was actually on track, I wanted and felt the need to keep it as easy going as possible. Not in the mind set for complications and a lot of trudging over open ground is not for me just yet. Esp as the mist was about but just starting to lift.

It was as I headed to West Mill Tor that my trail shoes started to get wet, and by the time I reached West Mill Tor I could feel my little toe was in trouble. This has happened before, but only in that the skin goes wrinkly and no harm comes of it, today was different. Newish trail shoes and I donít think they were tight enough. At West Mill Tor I tightened the laces. The left little pinky was quite tender at that Tor and it was here that I considered cutting the walk short, but heading down and towards Row Tor, the tenderness eased and I decided all would be ok. The walking was mostly easy going at worst. The mist had lifted, leaving a low cloud. It did little to lift the spirits. The forecast had forecast sunny intervals, I think it was at that time that I had the first sunny interval. It was not really until I got back to the car another sunny interval arrived.

I followed the path towards East Mill Tor and once parallel to it followed a path up, to the rocky outcrop, then the easy grassy path down to the track all the way to Dinger Tor. Following those man made tracks is not much fun, but it did for me and helped keep my speed up. I did not linger at Dinger.

Walking down the hill from Dinger was easy enough, bit overgrown with ferns, and quite a few outcrops of rocks and stones to try to catch the unwary foot out. Down I went to the West Okement river hoping for what I hoped would be an easy crossing. Last time in the time of drought it was easy a month ago. This time it was more problematical and this was the first time I ever had to wade almost knee deep. I have done ankle deep but not this deep. The bottom was pretty smooth and the rocks that were there were easily visible and miss-able. I walked up the river looking for an easy crossing but that was the only one I could see, save miles up river. Down river there is Sandy Ford, I might have to head for that in the future. Crossing knee deep was not too bad, the first part was easy, but as I neared the far bank, I say far, the whole crossing was probably no more than 6 meters, probably less, but the flow got faster and I could feel it pulling on my legs. I held fast and made the bank and lifted one foot, placed carefully and deliberately on the bank, placed my poles and lifted myself up and out. None the worse for the crossing. My trousers were wet to the knees, and trail shoes soaked, but they had been wet for quite a while before, so I was not in the least bit concerned about that.

What did concern me and there was a moment of panic is that I looked back and Bess was still on the far side. Bess normally precedes a crossing, but this time she was on the far bank, pacing. There was no way I was going to get back the way I had come, that step up made for an impossibly treacherous return. I could see Bess thinking about it, but if she got caught in that flow that had pulled at my legs she could have ended up in deep water. I bellowed an order, no, and motioned to walk down stream a fraction, I could see her eyeing another place, but this was worse and I shouted ďstayĒ, and motioned to follow me down stream a few more paces. I think my first vestiges of panic set in, and I could see Bess seriously thinking about another crossing, this had potential, she paced, thinking, ďcan IĒ, most unusual for Bess, normally she just goes for it, I beckoned her and she plunged in. There were rocks around, that is why I allowed her to cross there, she could not have been carried far, but she managed to cross without incident and didnít even need the hand I offered if she needed a drag up the bank. She was wet, but shook that off. The pack she carried appeared to be intact and shrugged the water off with ease. The water went half way up her body. Her deepest crossing. No wonder she was a bit nervous.

As I walked up the steep embankment that arose in front of my face it seemed, towards Kitty Tor I looked about for Bess, but there was no sign. I carried onwards and upwards, watching my steps closely, this bit is not much fun, not only steep, but there are quite a few rocks and worse, sink holes. I disturbed lots of frogs and lizards. The thought of adders passed my mind, but I filed that away in the part of my brain that forgets things. That part of my brain is very big indeed. I have forgotten more than most people will ever remember. I did not forget Bess and a head appeared about 100m to my left and 100m in front of me, so I suppose that is to my left by 45 degrees, she was climbing away, the river crossing already forgotten.

We eventually made Kitty Tor and from there a new path, for us, towards Green Tor. My feet had dried quite a bit, this section put a sodden end to that. The Harvey map that I had with me did tell me, so I was expecting. Harvey maps seem to show the boggy areas better than an OS map, but maybe that is my lack of map reading skills.

Green Tor was very surreal and I lingered only long enough for a photo. I have not been back to Green Tor since Sue and I first went there in 2003 on our weekís holiday. I looked longingly, at it, thought of Sue and my beloved Sasha, an old dog, now passed as well. Sasha walked that holiday with us. I left Green Tor, followed the boggy path to Bleak House and sat down. I had to decide whether to set up the stove and cook my meal. It has been a few years since last doing so. For one reason or another. No need to go into that here. I bit the bullet and set to.

I sat on a rock, unpacked my rucksack, collected water from the stream that passes below Bleak House, set up a wind shield around the boiler and boiled my absolutely favourite meal when out walking. Beef stew and dumplings. I brought along some extra carbs in the way of Smash, once the meal was hot, I added the water to my Smash and added that to the bag of steaming beef stew. The smash was a bit dated, but there was nothing wrong with it, it will last a very long time. I need to add it to the meal as the meal is not quite enough alone and the Smash helps soak up the gravy. I must admit to that being the best part of the walk. Always thinking of my stomach. I was never going to go hungry, I had 4 rolls spare, that reminds me, I need to put them in the fridge.

I probably shouldnít say this, but I must admit to being glad I was alone, for most of the walk I think I know why the mist lifted. I blew it away. Must have been the Shreddies. Probably just me. Anyway.

I packed up and got up to put my rucksack back on, my goodness was I stiff, sore and aching, I think the body had seized up whilst my stomach was feasting, the feet were protesting. But within 20 minutes or so, say by the time I got to Great Links Tor I seemed to have sorted the old aching body out and headed down to Brat Tor, I paused, thought, and made my way down to the car.

That was when I took my socks off, looked at my little toe and thought, bloody hell. Anyway, it will heel over soon enough. I took a photo of it, but donít think I will put it up hereÖ

My pack weighed about 12 kgs, not bad going for me, inc 2L of water. I left my tripod behind. I felt that I would not be in the mood for any self portraits or any such stuff and wanted to save the weight. A slightly lighter tripod is on the cards. I carried my D700 and the 24-70mm lens, no issues there I must admit. I put it in a Think Tank bag and strapped it to the side of the rucksack, I could just about get it out without removing the pack. But a lighter, good quality camera might be worth a nose for a walk like this, see one day. I was surprised how it was not too much of an issue. Winter with more gear in a packÖ I put my energy drink in Bessí pack, so that helped.

I wore Montrail Masochist trail shoes, not waterproof. Done that many times on Dartmoor in the warmer weather, wet feet is not a concern for me, normally. Not sure what I will do when colder, not sure if I will walk when its freezing on Dartmoor, lets see. Smartwool socks. Montane Terra pants, the bottoms of them got wet crossing the river, but they dried quickly enough. I wore a Coolmax vest, cheap and cheerful, did for here. Moutain Hardwear long sleeved Canyon shirt, in case it got warm, fat chance, and over that an Arcíteryx tweave shirt. All that stayed on the whole walk. None was wind proof, but didnít need or want that. I was warm walking and only cooled when I sat for my meal. I put on a Paramo Torres vest. On my head I wore an Arcíterxy beanie hat, it is very thin and light, ideal for today, and a Tilly hat on that. Thank goodness I didnít look in a mirror. I had spare but did not wear waterproof trousers and coat, yes from my favourite makers, think prehistoric, but might look to lighter in the future. I also had a prehistoric, get it, hehehehe, windproof coat, very light and packs into its own pocket. I also had very light gloves just in case and waterproof socks, again just in case, mainly in case I got cold feet. Been thereÖ

All in all a good walk, tinged with sadness as they always are, but that goes with the territory of a loss. A small step, well, a 27.8km one and I used my camera.


Reply to Mark, MeanderLight. I think Sue and I used to cross Sandy Ford in the early days, but I think on these last few trips that I have been that way I have gone in a direct straight line from Lints to Kitty, rather than two sides of a triangle. But I think that may have to change. Donít fancy that crossing much and finding where it was would not be easy as I always seem to go down a slightly different way. A straight line to me is a bit of a dog leg, lol.
My whole body aches this morning, but it is slowly coming to, my eyes are wide shut, toe, tender, can hobble on it. Thank goodness I did not hack that dead skin off, annoyingly it has solidified and fussed to the toe, hopefully a hot shower will loosen it. Watch this space.
Sorry, I am meandering like an ox bow lake, not that that can meander. Where was I, oh yes, the crossing, nope, did that. Bleak House. Yes, that is a very solituous (sp!!??) place, can you imagine someone living there all those years ago. For a meal stop ideal. For me, full of memories, happy, yet sad ones. It is a place I will often tred.

As I was writing this and converting my raw images last night, I did not unpack, doing that, sort of, this morning, that will probably take a day or two as I slowly do a bit at a time. Whilst flitting from one thing to another.

I just looked at my soggy socks, one has a red colouration, my little toe must have bled into it. Nice.
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King Way towards Great Nodden.
King Way towards Great Nodden.
Ditto.
Ditto.
Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor in the distance, I think and hope.
Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor in the distance, I think and hope.
Bess and her pack.
Bess and her pack.
Heading towards West Mill Tor, looking back down the valley.
Heading towards West Mill Tor, looking back down the valley.
West Mill Tor.
West Mill Tor.
East Mill Tor.
East Mill Tor.
From East Mill Tor out over open moor.
From East Mill Tor out over open moor.
Bess.
Bess.
Great Links Tor.
Great Links Tor.
Bess.
Bess.
Green Tor.
Green Tor.
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