Sunday, April 26

Dartmoor Five Day Walkabout: Wash-Up

The Stats:
Day 1: IVYBRIDGE - RED LAKE; Distance - 8.54mile; Ascent - 266m; Average Speed - 2.3mph; Wildcamp @ 449m;

Day 2: RED LAKE - LYDFORD TOR; Distance - 11.6mile; Ascent - 337m; Average Speed - 2.9mph; Wildcamp @ 503m;

Day 3: LYDFORD TOR - HIGH WILLHAYS; Distance - 9.17mile; Ascent - 393m; Average Speed - 2.4mph; Wildcamp @ 618m;

Day 4: HIGH WILLHAYS - SKIR HILL; Distance - 16 mile; Ascent -?m; Average Speed - 2.8mph; Wildcamp @ 434m;

Distance - 11.5mile; Ascent - n/a; Average Speed - 3.3mph;

TOTAL: Distance - 56.8 mile; Average Speed - 2.75 mph

Summing Up:
Phew what a scorcher!

As I've said in past Dartmoor reports (here & here) the OS Map is an indicator of topology, a few major paths and areas of human activity, present & past. In terms of tracks on the ground - forget it. The real benefit with the 1:25,000 is to flag potential water issues - either refill sources, or areas to avoid. There the map detail is essential.

Map and compass skills are essential, but learning to read the ground ahead eases the way considerably. Learning to read the vegetation & getting the feel of the landscape is an easy enough skill to pick up; With a bit of trial and error.

The peat hags on the high ground between Hangingstone Hill & White Horse Hill are potentially lethal, usually muddy - avoid!

I’d noticed on previous trips that the area along the Army Range Boundary range markings has a clear & wide track, trampled down by regular use. They simplify much of the moorland walking, leaving me freer to enjoy the land around rather than concentrate on each of my steps.

A great trip out this time, and with the extended outing a chance to improve my various systems and refine as I went. Only drawback - its time for some kit replacement this year if I want to make any real inroads into the total weight/volume combination.

Lessons learnt, Tips & Tricks:
For sleeping arrangements I used a silk liner, Vango Venom 225 & an Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag. I planned to experiment with various combinations of the three. Instead, by Night #2, I was using all three together plus wearing a merino baselayer top, and a pair of walking socks to remain relatively comfortable ( I prefer not to sleep in clothes if I can help it usually)

As a 2/3 season bag the Venom has served me well. But now I understand what the "Comfort" rating truly means!

The 225 is rated as 8 deg C comfort. Most nights the temperature was 5-7 deg C.

I'm already hunting for a sleeping bag replacement. Especially as once home I combined the weight of the various sleeping kit only to realised I’d doubled the basic weight of the sleeping bag alone.

I extend my Thermarest 3/4 length lightweight mat with a piece of old closed cell sleeping mat at its foot. This also doubles as a sit mat/ground protector for the tent entrance. At night I found my feet rolling off it.

Having cut it from an old Karrimor mat (which must be 30+ years old) its time to replace it with a larger (newer?) piece.

I use EPIGAS 100g containers. The first ran out after 2 night's use. Around then I realised I needed to be more careful when measuring out the water to boil. As I'd not been that over generous in the first place I was expecting the 2nd canister to quit on the 5th day - which it didn't. Back home I burnt off the remaining gas - 20 minutes supply, enough for another night .In future I'll be more frugal as to the amount of water I measure out to boil.

An EPIGAS 100g lasts 2 nights, or 3 at a push.

Once again I took Energizer lithium AAA batteries which fit my MP3 player & Gecko 301 GPS. They last considerably longer than the long-life variety and individually weigh much less. I started with a new set of GPS batteries and didn't need to change them until the morning of Day 5

My mobile, an old model Nokia 6100 (I think) gets switched on when I need to get/send calls. The battery had 75% power by the end of the trip. No need for solar recharging kit with this approach.


So much. So varied. And as last year, Skylarks wherever I travelled


This time I replaced my crackers with mini pitta breads. No mould; They doubled as sandwich material; Much more appetising. I'll be repeating that idea in future.


Listing your average speed - your half way to being a cyclist!! I've usually managed a similar number of nights from a 100 gas cylinder -7 nights from a 250.
Sounds a good trip.
Sounds like you had a good trip John. My summer bag is a Western Mountaineering, it is a good three season. Normally I use a very light 5oz bivi as a protection for the bag. One learns to be miserly when it comes to using gas. Normally a 100g cylynder does me three days, although I can strech it to four. We shall have to meet up some time John.
looks like my exuberance with the gas isn't that bad then
A great account John, with a lot of useful information too.

I've only been to Dartmoor once and that was on a day walk, but I've been studying the map with thoughts of a good long backpack. So you reckon the OS map isn't generally very good for showing the actual paths and tracks on the ground?. I've got Memory Map up now looking at the OS and Harvey maps, and there sure is a plethora of bog symbols. I'm no stranger to rough boggy stuff but any decent tracks would be some welcome respite I'm sure!.
By the way, any chance of a GPX file to show your route?. It makes it a lot easier to follow the account.
Sorry Geoff -not a GPX follower - my GPS use is kept extremely simple these days
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