Monday, 6 September 2010

#113 - Princetown to Meldon Reservoir

To wake up to a weather warning knocks the optimism a bit. This was supposed to be the beginning of a three day traverse of the Dartmoor Forest boundary, incorporating a night wildcamping on the high north moors on the first, and a camping barn the following night. What it actually turned out to be, in all my days walking on Dartmoor, was the wettest!

Despite the prospect of a tough day, my mate Richard and I left the Fox Tor Cafe Bunkhouse, in Princetown, just before 8am with visibility at around 20 metres! Ticking off the first two boundary points, North Hessary and Great Mis Tors, we were making good progress along the route. The mist was replaced by steady rain, and this was to stay with us for the rest of the day, a south-westerly that kept at our backs constantly.

At Sandy Ford on the River Tavy, (or Sandy Lake, as the new OS Map calls it, probably to differentiate from Sandy Ford on the West Okement), we had to take a slightly different route to avoid the live firing in the Willsworthy Range. We skirted the perimeter, across Amicombe Hill, stopping close to some disused mine works, for a brew and to pick up my energy levels, which had dropped alarmingly in the persistant rain and tough going.

At Bleak House, we crossed the Rattlebrook and rejoined the boundary. finding Rattlebrook Head is not a simple task. It's a particularly horrible boggy area, and I suppose you could say it's all the head! We skirted round to Hunt Tor, then took a rough track passed the head towards Steng a Tor and the next point.

Descending to Sandy Ford on the West Okement was tricky. Rather than head towards Kitty Tor to pick up the safe path down, we took a short cut, and inevitably found the clitter. It took a lot longer than expected to pick our way down to cross the river.

The climb up to Fordsland Ledge, for me, was proving a challenge. My energy levels were just not being sustained, despite snacking to maintain them. By the time we had got half way up, the decision was made to take the escape route option. We were soaked. We might as well have been sitting fully clothed in a bath. A night of wildcamping would prove to be uncomfortable and, quite frankly, uneccessary.

At the ledge, we sheltered in the metal storage hut, and I rang my parents, who live nearby, to pick us up at Meldon Reservoir in an hour. All that remained was to make our way down to reservoir car park, via Black Tor. Ironically, the weather eased as we descended, and the sun made an appearance, but by then, the rain had penetrated every part and it was good to see dry clothes.

  • Date: 06/09/10
  • Region: Dartmoor National Park
  • Status: Equals
  • Description: Princetown - Great Mis Tor - Lynch Tor - Sandy Lake - Bleak House - Hunt Tor - Sandy Ford - Fordsland Ledge - Black Tor - Meldon Reservoir - Persistent rain, poor visibility, 8hrs, 25km
  • Type of Walk: Personal Walking

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