Wednesday, June 29

Dartmoor Tors - Free spreadsheet resource - Trip planning 

My List of Tors spreadsheet, mentioned below, is free to download and use here.

I'm always on the lookout for solid reference material when planning my Dartmoor wildcamping trips. 

If you ignore the well meaning, but slightly twee, 'short walks with a dog\pram\kids' type of offering, there are remarkably few books.

I've been tromping the moors over 20+ years, covering the established tracks, the majority of the higher Tors, and a wide variety of one-off locations.

Prior to my recent trip I transferred the data from three dog-eared maps and finally added them to a pristine OS28 map. All clean and uncreased. That didn't last long once out.

A by product of this is that I now have two of the old maps pinned on a wall, marked with bright felt tips showing all my past routes & wildcamp locations. Now I just stand back and can see, at a glance, where I've been, and more importantly those areas I've yet to explore.

Its also is useful in marking those areas of unwelcoming terrain to be avoided - the south western border path alongside Fernworthy Forest still springs painfully to mind.

Wildcamping in itself is my enjoyment. But I often I feel I'm letting myself down by having no other objective except that night's camp.

Probably my most enjoyable trip was an unsupported walk from Ivybridge rail station, northwards to Okehampton, and then returning via a different route - the 50 miles at 50 trip. (For those interested the trip report can be found via the blog Archive Material Search box for April 2009 - box on the right)

One of the enjoyments of that was having a series of objectives in mind, and covering the moorland between them, sometimes in the less visited places.

But recent trips have been a bit of a make-it-up-as-I-go-along approach.

If I lived nearer perhaps the Dartmoor 365 approach would work, but its a little too much effort for what I'm really after.

Last year I picked up a copy of the Dartmoor Tors Compendium by Josephine M Collingwood. Normally coffee table books are not my thing, but this book is an exception. It lists the majority of Tors, giving real detail about each tor and what can be seen around it. 

For me, the true value is in the excellent photos - great for deciding which tors rate a visit, and a good indication of the potential for wildcamping spots.

And that was it, or so I thought, one of the rarer quality reference works on Dartmoor Tors.

I slung it in the car boot on my next trip, and by the end of that I found myself increasingly referring to it when deciding on my next location. (When you live far from Dartmoor you have to become highly selective about where to spend your limited time)

This year I took another look at the book, creating a spreadsheet of the Tors, their location, height and (most importantly) the arbiter score Collingwood gives for each tor. Purely subjective on her part, but mindful of the scope of Tors she covers, probably better than many other opinions. I've used free location mapping tools in the past, so feeding in the spreadsheet co-ordinates I've now graphical maps for Tor locations via rank, such as this below, for those scoring 8-10.

Planning for the next few years is now a case of working my way down the list of those higher ranked tors, ideally joining them up into somewhat random routes, as and when the feeling takes me.

If you want to know more about the mapping tools - leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

The book is highly recommended as both a reference work, and an insight into the appeal of each Tor. 

And a lot easier to consume than William Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor, however important his seminal work remains.

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