Sunday, September 17

A lot of ground to cover

A mental walkabout for today's post, wandering through Dartmoor backpacking, Lakeland waterfalls & walking as employment. Guess who has had some quality peace and quiet recently!

My week away went by as swiftly as only a truly relaxing break can. Minimal walking but lots of food and beer to make up for it.

Building up my fat layers for the winter is my only excuse. Ahem.

I spent a fair amount of time browsing the local bookshops for new or second hand reference material with one eye on some serious wildcamping on Dartmoor in 2007.

Unfortunately one of my main 2nd hand sources in Mortonhampstead had shut up shop.
For ever. And my Ashburton dealer seemed to be in the middle of handing over to a new owner, so my attempts to rummage for old and out-of-print treasure trove was remarkably unsuccessful. Perversely I did manage to return with a copy of Hamish Brown's 'Mountain Walk' and a 1990 copy of A Harry Griffin's 'Lakeland Moutain Diary', similar to the current publication that is proving so popular a read at present. There was also a cornucopia of Poucher & Wainwright material. Sod's law I guess.

New material was very much along the lines of pub walks or short trips from the car, but I picked up a couple of books, two from Dartmoor Rescue Group, and one covering Dartmoor Hills and Tors, so hopefully using these, along with the trusty Dartmoor OS map, should give me something to do during the winter months in planning some likely routes.

My current hope is to travel North to South, following ridges and leats as far as possible, assuming I can work out the public transport to return to my transport at the end of the trip. Initial dips into the local transport guides suggest that Dartmoor is well served for short hops in the same area, but travelling from one side of Dartmoor to the other often requires multiple bus changes. At least the shorter journey from home will mean it's more likely that I can cram in a some long weekends, rather than needing to store up my holidays for those long trips to the Lake District.

On that subject I had the chance to catch up on my reading whilst away, and quite fancy the idea of linking up visits to Lakeland tarns and waterfalls, as an alternative to peak bagging, not really a huge interest of mine. Having a few focal points during the day, especially where water supplies are involved, simplifies the whole wildcamping experience, with stopovers being wherever I feel like it at the time.

Plus if the 2006 summer water problems are repeated it will keep the pack weight down. Well we can but wish for a repeat for hot and sunny weather in 2007 can't we - won't all those tarp buyer's be pleased. Tee hee.

Returning home I've caught up with my favourite podcasts. Podcast Bob & Andy Howell have started a new offshoot talking with walking book authors. Whilst listening to The Outdoors Channel Book Club #1 with Kev Reynolds, travel guide author, it occurred to me that if I had difficulties with a general lack of Dartmoor backpacking material, I've probably spotted a marketing niche, so why not produce my own guide?

It's something that I've had at the back of my mind for a number of years ever since I was started walking the Avon Valley Footpath, shortly after it was officially opened in the 1990s; Not a particularly exciting path, but as it runs through my locality I use parts of it regularly for exercising the dogs. I did produce some early draft material and spoke to a local publisher, but never took it any further at the time. The subsequent book that was published (the other was a Ramblers Assoc short walks affair) didn't exactly enthral me, but the opportunity had been missed by then.

But returning to my original pondering, after many years of stable employment I now face great uncertainty in 2007, and this is leading me to reassess my own work/life balance, and potentially a possible relocation. Perhaps a small cottage on Dartmoor, writing for my supper, would be an alternative?

To paraphrase Kev Reynolds from the podcast, you write from a love of the outdoor places, not because you ever expect to get rich.

Sounds fair enough to me.


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Dartmoor is still one of my favourite places for wild camping. I agree with you on peak bagging - especially on Dartmoor. There's a vast amount of stuff that's more fun.

Public transport can be a problem. I normally set out from Postbridge or Two Bridges and getting there from the nearest station on several buses can be a bit of an endurance test.

Mark - I was thinking of Okehampton for a start point (bus or train), and Ashburton/Bovey Tracy (bus)as a finish, so hopefully a little more choice
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