Dartmoor Beyond Sensible? - Training Walk 1

April 07, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

1st April 2022

Planned route:              

Watchet Hill

Hangingstone Hill

Whitehorse Hill

Black Hill

Cut Hill


Actual Leg duration time        7 hours 52 minutes

Actual Distance travelled       25 km

Average walking speed          3.2 km per hour

Max walking speed                 6.4 km per hour


This was the first descent walk I have completed for a while now and I still appear to be suffering some hang over ailments from my last challenge. It seems a joint isn’t happy unless it is aching these days!

Neither did I make the earliest of starts having driven to Belstone as my starting point. Warmed by the cars heating for just over an hour, getting out of the car on arrival was just a little delayed as I prepared for a sudden drop in temperature on the outside. A forecast of around just four or five degrees with a `feels like` figure of less than zero.


My minimum target, based on an assumption my aches and pains may force me to turn back prematurely is Whitehorse Hill.

Well, I had to get out some time and couldn’t afford to wait any longer. Layered up with two base layers, a polo neck top, a fleece and a waterproof coat, plus long johns under my trousers and a pair of fingerless gloves, I was determined to stay warm. Oh, plus a new beanie hat that has proved to be really warm, a bargain at £2 spotted in a charity shop as I peered into the shop through the window. Yep, still taking Covid precautions!


The route was to take in some tracks and areas I haven’t investigated before but also some of the tors I visited during my `Biggest Dartmoor Challenge Ever`. Visiting these again stirred the emotions as I passed and recalled the events of the challenge at each of the tors.


Let’s get started.

From the Belstone car park it is an easy walk through the village, keeping right, passed the chapel to the gate leading onto the access moor. Rather than turning left over Belstone tor I followed the track ahead which took me Scary tor. The track started grassy but soon turned into a stony metalled track, the sort I’m not particularly fond of. However, once over the initial slope it was downhill and easy walking.

The sun was shining with blue skies and bubbling white cloud and despite a cold stiff breeze behind me it felt very comfortable.


Now here is the `boundary` I need to set looking ahead of the challenge. Challenge, ah yes, I need to explain. My next challenge is shaping up to be, visit every hill on the OS OL28 map. This will compliment having completed all the tors from my last trip.

On the OS map it is not always entirely clear where the hill is and what area it covers. This makes defining success a little tricky. So, my definition of success is, I need to walk up, down or across part of the hill marked on the OS map.

Watchet hill will be claimed by walking to the flag pole and back to the track. So, while I walked around the base today it was sufficient to gather the info I need to continue.

Before reaching Cullever Steps I stayed with the track to the left. It remained stony but provides a clear track to follow all the way to Oke tor. Up to this point the track has provided some welcome relief from the wind and in the sun made it a very pleasant walk. Even time for a few phone snaps as the sun popped out between the rolling clouds.


My next target point was Knack Mine and the ford across the river. From Oke tor the track remains easy to follow all the way to the ford. This section of the river always seems to stay at the same level regardless of the weather so the well placed stones provide easy passage across to the other side. In the shadow of Steeperton Gorge and sheltered from the wind the sun was definitely taking the chill of the temperature and questioning if five layers were becoming too warm.

This was almost as far as I had travelled along this track so I was interested to see if the track marked on the map did indeed take me all the way to Hangingstone Hill. The answer is, yes it does. It is however quite a long stretch of track and as it stands, luckily, I will be walking down the hill during the challenge.

Topped with a military hut and a cairn it provides impressive 180 degree views of the area. It also provides a clear indication of how challenging the surrounding area is. With no or little `markers`, walking further takes you deep into the open moor.

My next marker is Whitehorse Hill, which is separated by a flat plateau piece of moor approximately one kilometre further on. The question is, can I walk a straight line to it.


I’ve heard several accounts of the terrain beyond Hangingstone Hill, most of which suggest the area is covered in deep bog areas and any crossing should be taken with extreme caution if at all.

But hey, a planning trip is not a planning trip unless you investigate it for yourself is it. As in all cases with little to spot and head for I set the compass for a straight line to simulate being in the fog. It didn’t take long to realise that even during this current very dry spell the area was living up to the accounts I have read.

Large sprawling boggy areas filled with water and partially covered in vegetation and dead grass. A matrix of large pools of water/bog interspersed with tufts of ground/grass enabling a nimble person to jump between them. At best, even today, this was going to be a very time consuming exercise. In poor weather this would be near impossible to navigate. In fog it would be suicide. Looking behind me it wasn’t even clear which route in I had taken, slightly concerning.

Fortunately, the warning signs had appeared before I had travelled too far in so the right decision was to back out and look for an alternative route to Whitehorse Hill. I guess it could be done but not by me, I just don’t have the patience to tip toe across an area of patch work guessing and hoping I’ll land on solid ground with each step I take.



The map does indicate a dotted line representing a track taking a wide semi circular diversion around the worst of the boggy plateau placing you on the start of a small `peat pass`. This proved to be an easy track to walk but question how visible it may be later in the year when the grass has re-established itself.

The peat pass did surprise me. A clear track cut into the banks of peat and laid with stones and granite. An unmistakable track albeit a short one. It has been clearly cut out allowing people to reconnect with a straight line bearing to drop down the other side onto Whitehorse Hill. I assume it was also used in the time when peat was being farmed from the moor.

There are a couple of memorial stones marked on the map which I should have `bagged` while I was there. Not entirely sure why I didn’t. Possibly as I was contemplating my next move.

The weather was still incredibly good with clear visibility for miles and having just come over the top of the hill my next target should be Black Hill with my final destination of Cut Hill. I now needed to calculate time left in the day. Cut Hill was just too far away to reach and return.

It wasn’t critical to reach them today so looking around I decided to investigate what looked like two military huts dead ahead. Another relatively clear track provided easy walking landing me on Quintin’s Man Cairn. Another spot I haven’t visited but had on my list at some point.

A good spot for lunch out of the wind and sheltered between the two huts. With the sun still shining bright and visibility very clear there was plenty of open moor to enjoy in all directions. Packing up the remains of lunch and gazing across to Cut Hill I was very tempted to head off across the open terrain to bag and check out a couple more hills. Time was getting the better of me though so made the sensible decision to retrace my steps back to the car.



On a very dry, sunny day this is an easy walk for most in my view, with the exception of maybe not trying to take a straight line across the top of Hangingstone Hill!


My average speed isn’t huge so a comfortable eight hours walking (aches and pains aside!)


My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 48

August 01, 2021  •  1 Comment

A big challenge deserves a big target, if you would like to support the Dartmoor Search and Rescue team Tavistock visit the link below. Thank you for your support.


Target - Raise £20,000 to help fund the new operations vehicle.

A 400 km hike across 170 tors and rocks on the Dartmoor OS OL28 map raising funds to replace their failing operations vehicle.


Not a training blog, but my final one before I set off, in less than 48 hours!

The overriding challenge is to raise funds for the Dartmoor search and rescue team Tavistock to enable them to urgently purchase a replacement operations van at a cost of £50,000.

My target is to try and raise the remaining £20,000 to complete the Recue 50 campaign.


To those who have donated so generously over the last nine months, a massive thank you.

To the facebook groups that have allowed me to advertise my challenge on their pages another massive thank you.

To those media outlets that have featured my challenge a massive thank you.

Without you this just wouldn’t be happening.

To those yet to donate/sponsor, please have a think about supporting this charitable cause, many people have the team to thank for helping and saving them from their predicaments both on and off the moor.

Training has been done.

Planning has been done.

Food preparation has been done.

Bag weight final checks have been done.

Just sitting around waiting for Monday!

I thought I would share my last thoughts before the off and provide some “rules” and guidelines albeit self-imposed, around the criteria of the hike.

But first some stats. I do love a good stat!

The challenge

  • To raise £20,000 to support the Dartmoor search and rescue team Tavistock urgently purchase a new operations vehicle costing £50,000 to replace their current failing vehicle.
  • To visit every tor plus some rocks marked on the OS OL28 Dartmoor map.
  • 162 tors and 10 “rocks” such as Haytor rocks.
  • 390 km planned, following some last-minute adjustments. May be more, but unlikely less!
  • 14 days planned.
  • 147 planned walking hours.
  • 33 kilos start bag weight, shedding 1 kilo a day in food.
  • Going solo.
  • Totally self-supported for the full non-stop hike. That’s all kit plus all food.


  • Over a period of 9 months
  • 4.8 Million steps (combined walking and step-up training
  • Some weight training!
  • Step-ups and weights in garage for 25 weeks
  • Walking local lanes in lockdown
  • Day hikes across Dartmoor building up to 30km a day carrying 32 kilos.
  • Start body weight in November, 13 stone and 5 pounds
  • Current body weight, 12 stone and 6 pounds
  • Expected weight following challenge, 11 stone and 3 pounds

The challenge guidelines

Like every challenge there needs to be some basic “rules” or guidelines against which the challenge can be measured as a success. In this case there are also a few additional criteria/caveats that need to be applied.

  • Not to accept any support in terms of reducing carrying bag weight
  • Not to accept any substantial food parcels or drop offs during the challenge that would be deemed sufficient to avoid the challenge being terminated.
  • Not to take any guidance or support in reaching the locations as marked on the OS OL28 Dartmoor map. (Exceptions, if people happen to bump into me to identify a specific outcrop deemed a tor location not specified on the OS map.) Such as Aish tor where the map may suggest the location as the cairn and not the specific tor outcrop.
  • Tors to be visited (not necessarily climbed to the top!) will be as marked or indicated on the OS map OL28.
  • Where tors are located on private land, get as close as is reasonably possible allowing the daily km’s planned to be maintained.
  • To get as reasonably close to a tor where health and safety override the sensible achievement of reaching a tor.
  • Overnight camping is “wild camping” providing it can be achieved in the designated “purple zone”. Where this is not possible a camp site will need to be used. There is one exception.
  • Camping areas are left with “no trace” in line with Dartmoor National Park camping principles.
  • Accumulated rubbish can be deposed of on route providing the disposal point is a legitimate and safe way to do so. Otherwise, it will be carried to the end of the challenge. Nothing will be left on the Dartmoor.
  • Adhering to the published country code.

Tor’s exceptions (10 private land, 2 safety issues)

  • Chub Tor             – private land. Nearest point, West Devon Way track passing in front of tor.
  • Bell Tor               – private land. Nearest point, Bell corner car park.
  • Coombe Tor        – Private land. Nearest point, road at Waye Barton.
  • East Tor              – Private land. Nearest point, Granite Way path.
  • Raven Tor           – Private land. Nearest point (Lydford), road (West Devon Way) opposite tor. National Trust have advised unlikely to be suitable walking with full pack at height of season with one way system in place).
  • Brimhill Tor
  • Kents Tor
  • Fox Tor (Peter Tavy)
  • High Tor              – All private land. Nearest point, road between Cudliptown and Peter Tavy facing each tor.
  • Vixen Tor            – Private land. Nearest point, boundary wall passing tor.
  • Raven Tor           – Safety issue. Deemed too risky to scramble to tor with full packed weight. Nearest point, track through Lustleigh Cleave                                    below tor.
  • Hockingston Tor – Safety issue. Deemed too risky to scramble over rocks and landslips to tor with full packed weight. Nearest point, Dr                                         Brlackell’s Drive path above the tor.
  • Bracken tor        - Now confirmed this is the name of the youth hostel and not a tor so will not be visiting the area.
  • Crownhill tor      - Now established it is actually not on the OL28 map so will not be visiting

Rocks/Quarries to visit (7 rocks, 2 quarries)

  • Welstor rocks
  • Haytor rocks
  • Greator rocks
  • Blackingstone rocks
  • Helltor rocks
  • Kestor rocks
  • Frenchbeer rocks
  • Foggintor quarry
  • Sweltor quarry

Final adjustments

  • Start point now Beatland corner at 7am. Moving Chub tor from day 1 to day 14 allows removing 6km of unnecessary distance reducing 31km to 25km on day 1 when maximum weight is being carried.
  • One official camp site must be used as no wild camping site could be identified in the “purple zone” forcing decision. This allowed remaining challenge route to be satisfactorily maintained for distance, wild camping spots and water sources.
  • Finish point remains Clearbrook but now likely to be later and around 7pm.


So, with all that in place, how am I feeling with just one day to go?

I think I have completed a reasonable amount of training however until I actually undertake the challenge, I’ll never be satisfied if it is enough.

The bag weight is always going to be an issue and not helped that I’m 3 kilo’s over my preferred start weight. Having tried really hard to get this down and taking everything into account it’s the best I can do! The one factor that I hadn’t realised, and this may be useful to anyone doing similar, is when adding up the weight of snacks and food bags etc is they provide you with the contents weight. This means the packaging weight is not included. In my case that adds an astonishing 2 kilos to the weight. That’s just the foil bags of the dehydrated food, wrappers of pepperoni etc and the tins of sardines I’m taking. Who would ever believe that!

Wild camping, I’ve overcome my concerns on certain “personal” requirements and the water filter I purchased is performing well. No tummy issues so far. I’m hoping my last purchase of a pillow will help the sleeping that has currently eluded me on the training days.

I have a “camping routine” but yet to fully test it in wet weather! That should prove interesting as the tent, despite being pretty good and a two-man version, is small and it’s a large bag to fit in plus myself if I have to unload inside.


Food, well, that turned out to be a big challenge in its self. 16 kilos worth. Made up of dehydrated light weight food bags plus day snacks. Not the most enterprising menu but hopefully one to keep the protein and calorie count high enough to get me round. Peanut butter, pepperoni and beef sticks, sardine and snack bars will be a fine test to repeat over fourteen days. Luckily the main meals are a little more interesting washed down with a coffee at the start and end of the day.

Technology presented some interesting debates. What and how much should you take over fourteen days? GPS and SOS capability is a given, not just for my safety but also for others knowing I have the means to shout for help if required. It also lets donors and supporters track me live, just to make sure I don’t wander into a shop or pub! Don’t expect a speedy walk, this will be a steady plod. Battery packs and recharging capability, electronics will run out of power so another must, but this stuff weighs heavy!

Maps and compasses, haven’t forgot those. Two of each and marked up with the route to take.

I’ve kept clothing down to a minimum but can’t skimp on water proof gear. You have to be prepared for everything and anything which means every combination of clothing must be considered. Hopefully I now have a waterproof pair of boots, jacket and trousers!

If you wear glasses or contact lenses it’s surprising how much more that will add to carrying space and weight. Lenses, normal glasses, reading glasses, spare glasses and sun glasses. 300 plus grams, it’s all additional weight I could do without!

So, I think I have thought of everything, time will tell if I have over or under packed and if my choice in technology, food and camping gear have been good choices. That will be another story on my return!


So, how do I feel right now as I type?

Nervous, confident, realistic, full of expectation, some self-doubt, some excitement but definitely going into this with my eyes wide open.

I am ready to go and hope my body will stand up to the test. Some may wonder what all the fuss is about, but rest assured, for me this is a massive challenge.

I’ve never wild camped until this challenge, I’ve never carried any thing like the weight I’m carrying, I’ve never walked anything like the distance on consecutive days before and certainly never been out more than a couple of days at a time.

Having spent most of my career driving the motor ways and sitting behind a desk this will with out doubt test my physical and mental strength, plus my ability to navigate across the moor in any conditions thrown at me.

Starting this probably 20 years late at nearly 62 some may say and have jokingly suggested I’m nuts! They may turn out to be right!

I’ve never realised how comfortable my comfort zone is and now I’m about to step way outside it.

So, is this a challenge for me? You bet your last pound it is!

Am I ready, yes, I’m ready, and now we’re about to find out!

Thanks again to everyone who has supported, your donations and those I have met and yet to meet will get me through this. Let’s hope I do you proud and can give a good chunk of money to the search and rescue team Tavistock to purchase that critically needed new operations vehicle.

It would be great to meet everyone at some point to say thank you face to face. Maybe an informal chat or presentation somewhere in Tavistock to share the experience if interest is there?

See you at Clearbrook in two weeks.

My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 47

July 13, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

A big challenge deserves a big target, if you would like to support the Dartmoor Search and Rescue team Tavistock visit the link below. Thank you for your support.


Target - Raise £20,000 to help fund the new operations vehicle.

A 400 km hike across 170 tors and rocks on the Dartmoor OS OL28 map raising funds to replace their failing operations vehicle.

Training walk 35 – Return to Pork Hill car park!

Well, after an unscheduled week break for a variety of reasons, one being a leaking roof! I’m back on the moor.

A gentle stroll of 16 km around some familiar tors, if you can say carrying 30 kilos gentle! Familiar ground to a lot of people I suspect. Just checking to see what the impact of having a week off is before I throw myself back into another 30km attempt.

Starting from Pork Hill car park cross the road and veer left on a track to walk around the base of Cox tor. Follow the track until you reach the road, the easy option is to follow the road just before it turns into Higher Godsworthy. At that point turn right and follow the track parallel to the boundary wall. Keep going until you have Roos tor directly on your right, on your left you should see a footpath sign pointing across the field system.

Follow the sign and exit on the other side of the field. You’ll then be immediately faced with a stream, depending on weather depends on how full and fast this is. Today it was pretty full but at the right point, just need to look around, it remains easy to get across.

Once across with White tor ahead, simply pick your route up the hill until you reach the footpath that has Stephen’s Grave on it.

On the map there are two clear features you could follow. One is the footpath that continues to Stephen’s grave, the other is the stream to the right. Both will get you onto the track.

As I didn’t want to double back, I followed the stream.  It’s not a particularly difficult slope but again, with a heavy pack it still tested the lungs!

Following the path and with the field system on your right continue until you reach a point just beyond the end of the field system, for no other reason that to make it easy dropping down to the corner wall of the last field.

There’s a couple of streams that converge in this area and a fair bit of mining activity to negotiate, nothing too difficult. From here an opportunity to test my internal compass. How close can I get to the cairn at the brow of the hill? The answer was really close but the final act of landing on it was thwarted by a herd of cows. It almost looked like they were lined up like one of those duck shoots you get at a fair. Stood there all looking at me as I got closer. OK, close enough, you win, I’ll veer right and head off for Roos tor.

Really nothing exciting to mention walking to Roos tor, or the three Staple tors for that matter. Apart from, what fantastic views you get from each of them. Another area to return to with the camera after the challenge for some real photography!

Dropping down to Merrivale pick up the footpath that leads you all the way around to Vixen tor and onto the base of Pew tor. Met some more really nice people here, who again were happy to support my challenge. The people I continue to meet and the support they offer continues to amaze me, utterly brilliant.

Past Pew tor cottage, still on the path, drop down to the road, turn right and follow it to a road junction that has a track leading up to Pew tor at 45 degrees to the road, you can follow it to the top of the tor if the mood takes you but I wanted to ensure the distance I mapped was actually achieved today. It wasn’t that massive after all.

Turn right and follow the road passed Oakley cottage on your left. A further, approximately 250 meters there is a track that heads of ahead of you at roughly “2 o’clock”. I stayed to the left of the stream and continued following the track. You will come to a point where the stream branches left. Keeping relatively close to the boundary wall cross the stream branching left and continue pretty much in a straight line. On the map it is the double dotted line / track and not the footpath. This takes you over Barn Hill and back to the car park. You may also notice a short row of stones on your approach to the car park, not on the map, I am assured it is a stone row.

The weather was interesting, warm, sunny and muggy at the start making it a very sticky walk all the way to Roos tor, a ten-minute light shower threatened to clear the air but failed miserably!

Some great cloud formations and more sunny warm periods.

At Pew tor though it started to rain, just another light short shower I convinced myself.

One hour later, very wet as I failed to accept this was sticking around, I was almost back to the car. And, what a surprise, just as I approached the car it stopped and the sun came out again.

As a reference to just how warm it was, in about ten minutes my wet trousers where already practicably dry.

So, how did this short and simple revisit go, not bad but I was surprised just how quickly the body accustomed itself to walking without a heavy bag. Something to consider the week before I go, maybe some short distances carrying the weight as a little reminder of what’s to come!


Stats Day One

16 km distance

5 Hours duration

Average trip speed 3.0 km per hour

Average walking speed 5.2 km per hour


My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 46

July 04, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

A big challenge deserves a big target, if you would like to support the Dartmoor Search and Rescue team Tavistock visit the link below. Thank you for your support.


Target - Raise £20,000 to help fund the new operations vehicle.

A 400 km hike across 170 tors and rocks on the Dartmoor OS OL28 map raising funds to replace their failing operations vehicle.

Training walk 34 – 2 day Belstone Loop and first wild camp

So, with 4 weeks to go I thought it was about time to take the plunge and complete my first wild camp ever. Just as well go for it big time and camp at, what is possibly the toughest one to get to? Maybe I should have done this earlier but the truth is I had a training plan that was deferred by covid, better late than never I guess!

I wanted to test my stamina, and boy this was truly a work out. I was aiming for 25 km on day one and around 27 km on day two. With the route planned there was going to be some punishing terrain to cover as well as some easier tracks. Starting at the Belstone car park a walk through the village and keeping right passed a small chapel we’re heading for Watchet Hill. Continue until you reach a gate leading onto the moor access land, there is also a house on your immediate right called “Watchett” surprisingly. The village is a cracking example of a Dartmoor village and no surprise it is very popular. It has it all, some small shops, pubs, church and a green providing stunning views up to Cosdon Hill and surrounding area. On a warm sunny day there is no better place to spend the day.

Through the gate and take a track left, there are a couple of tracks, I take the one leading to the flag pole which provides a clear track up to Belstone tor. Yes, I had checked this time there was no firing so no surprises when I saw no flag up the pole! If you have never been to this area Belstone tor looks like it’s split into two. You reach the first outcrop and think you’re there and typical of many tors on the moor, you find the real top of the tor another hundred meters on and still higher.

Don’t feel too down hearted because when you reach the top the views are amazing. You have a huge panoramic of the area and in good visibility you can see for miles. It’s a great tor to visit without any doubt.

There is quite a bit packed into this area and continuing roughly South you soon reach the Irishman’s wall. There is an interesting article on Legendary Dartmoor to find out more https://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/irish_wall.htm

A little further on and you’re on top of Higher tor, strange really as it’s lower than Belstone! There is a clear path between Belstone tor and the next target Oke tor. The terrain is easy walking and in summer can get busy. Due to the relatively easy walking with tracks, military paths and in places easy moorland you can cover quite a distance without massive effort.

Reaching Oke tor take some time to look around, this is another tor worthy of your time. Sat on the hill it towers above the East Okement on one side and the river Taw on the other. Another impressive tor. A quick water stop, but today there’s not too much to see as the mist and fog keeps rolling in then clearing and rolling back in again. When the sunny intervals did appear, there were some terrific views to be had.

Sunny spells, that reminds me, like a chump I charged up the GPS the night before only to find when I took it out the bag it was dead flat! Oh bugger!

Good job I have the Garmin as a second device, you know the saying, two is one and one is none! Anyway, there’s always an upside. Now’s the chance to put the solar panel to a real field test. For those interested I tried some that were no good at all and then spotted this one with some interesting reviews, like it even charges in cloudy weather. Not a commission-based view, just me passing on my findings! Strange name, it’s called the Big Blue 2.

It comes with four clips to place on the back of the pack, sits perfectly on my Osprey bag. All set up and I could see via the ammeter it started to draw power and start charging the unit. I’ll check in a couple of hours.

Ready to move on I headed for Winter tor and then Scarry tor, both accessible by following a military path most of the way. Back down to Gulliver steps and following another track up toward Rowtor. There was a good number of tents by the field system, which I later found out was a group of teacher/parent led school children out for a Dartmoor experience. Got to take my hat off to them, giving up their time to educate the next walking generation, great stuff.

Rowtor is not difficult to reach, just a smallish incline from the track. Oh, the bag weight, nearly forgot!

This was a two day and overnighter walk, I packed everything I would need for the two weeks plus a bit more. I wanted to test a sleeping bag liner, highly rated they said. I wondered if the liner and thermals would be enough to keep me warm overnight. It could remove one kilo of sleeping bag weight which would be great. That meant for this trip a total of 32 kilos, I know, completely nuts, and I would agree on this occasion. Four weeks to get the weight right!

West Mill tor is navigationally straight forward but it is steep and took a few mini stops to reach the top. Yes, it took a bit out of me, but all good training, isn’t it?

A small group of youngsters were sat at the top probably wondering what all the difficulty was about as I clambered up the hill, they were heading for Yes tor and clearly enjoying it despite the mist.

Next West Mill tor, I decided to follow a track and pick up the path below. The mist was down now and the sunny spells were long gone. A bearing was required, I was aiming just to the left of the intersection of two paths, follow the road to that point and then drop down to a boundary stone just above New Bridge.

First glance couldn’t spot the intersection, I have to be close, walking a few meters right and crossing the path, another check. There it was, bending to the right which is why I couldn’t spot it right away, that felt good picking that out in the mist.

Pretty much a straight line to the boundary stone and down to the bridge. I tried this in an attempt to cut off the bending path, don’t bother! It’s a clumsy stretch, boggy, full of clitter (Curtery Clitter should have given it away!) and time consuming as the direction takes you into what looks like an old quarry area before you reach the bridge.

No matter, I’m at the bridge and starring up the hill to East Mill tor. A fleeting visit this time, get to the top and turn round to descend. This time sticking to the path, a little bit longer but so much easier to walk.

Yes tor is the next target, previously I have taken a straight line but this is not surprisingly quite tough on the ground and again very time consuming picking your route and jumping between tracks.

This time I’m trying the military path from New Bridge, right at the bridge, stick to the path and next left, up the hill and right at the next path junction, then left at the next path junction. This is then a long haul following the path all the way to the top between Yes and High Willhays tors. I’ll decide on the day on my challenge which route to take but certainly in fog the path option provides an almost fail-safe route to Yes tor.

Yes tor, in the mist. Time for lunch and give the body a rest. Sat on the floor against the bag it was so quiet, almost eery, but great! No one around, just me listening to the birds and the wind blowing through.

Time to check the solar panel. Wow, now considering the GPS was flat and no more than an hour of sunny intermittent spells, the rest of the time in mist, panel had delivered 48% of charge into the GPS. I thought that was pretty amazing, just as the review had said, it will charge in the most demanding of conditions. I’ll leave it charging and see how much it will take and how long.

As most will know High Willhays is a short distance via a connecting track and reaching the highest point on the moor takes no time at all. I wanted to be at Fur tor before seven in the evening so didn’t hang around, walking past and heading straight for Dinger tor.

More mist and safety says a bearing is required as there was nothing to see in front of me. It’s funny, could be just me, how your internal compass puts you at odds with the compass bearing. Called being disorientated obviously!

Put your trust in the map and compass I kept brain washing myself with. I’ve previously paid the price walking on instinct in the fog so, compass bearing it is no matter what it feels like.

Half way to Dinger tor and the mist lifted for a while, of course the bearing is accurate, Dinger tor dead ahead.

As I approached, I saw a large group walking toward Dinger tor, then realised it was a school party. I mentioned earlier how great it is that teachers/parents are willing to give up their time to get children out on the moors walking. They were totally buzzing and loving it, three days and two nights camping. What a great experience for them.

Even better, one of the teachers was following my progress, what more could I ask for!

After a good chat I started off toward Kneeset Nose, Great Kneeset followed by Little Kneeset before reaching the base of Fur tor towering above me.

Getting to Kneeset Nose wasn’t difficult, had to detour around some cows that wouldn’t move off the track, who do they think they are!

The climb to Great Kneeset was challenging, a long slow climb up the hill, at least I was low on water meaning the weight was reduce a fair bit. I was aiming to refill at Fur tor ford. A tent at the top, I had planned a brief stop here and as I approached a chap popped out. We had a great chat and had a laugh about putting my progress on a big screen, you had to be there to appreciate the humour!

Getting to Little Kneeset was a much more messy affair, no obvious track, just tuft and hole hopping, down to the Black Ridge Brook, it was getting a bit wet and boggy now. Thankfully I spotted a sheep track following the brook, ahead I noticed sheep crossing the brook, they appeared to do it very easily. I headed for that spot and no surprise, sheep are not going to struggle, a nice easy step across via some nice big boulders.

Up to Little Kneeset and down the other side to Fur ford, much easier walking for this stretch. Now out with the Geo filter for a real field test and see if my nervous stomach will cope. There and half litres of water filtered, it worked just as advertised, a bit of effort pushing the filter element into the container and to separate to repeat the process but not too bad.

Just the climb to the top of Fur tor left. Head down I tried not to think of the steep hill in front of me. It was so much easier following the boundary posts from Cut Hill. It was slow and needed a few stops, the added weight of the filtered water for meals and drinking water the following day made a huge difference in weight. Three and a half kilos were very noticeable!

Made it, the top of Fur tor the hard way, and I felt every step, not the last section of challenge after nine hours and twenty-four km walking you want.

Not a full stat as the Garmin has a smaller break down on detail.


Now just the issue of my first ever wild camp!

Another new bit of kit to try out. I’ve used a pocket rocket for some time but now decided I’ll upgrade to the same model but with an electronic ignition to make it easier, using matches as an emergency backup.

It became very quickly clear I needed to change the way I pack my bag. Everything out to get what I needed and then repack, if it had been raining, I may have been in trouble!

One thing I do know is my tent, easy to put up and quick, five minutes max and all set to go.

When I arrived, I was the only one there, brilliant I thought, the place to myself. Surely that would be unusual based on the FB posts I have read, being selfish I hoped no else would turn up!

The dehydrated food I packed was great, a very long way from what I remember experiencing many years ago. It actually tasted really good.

Ah, a cup of coffee, I have allowed myself the luxury of a coffee with dinner and breakfast, after that water all the way. I may take a flavouring with me next time, water does get a little boring after several hours and on this day three litres of water.

Fed and watered I knew the following day was going to be a tough one so tidied up, everything in the tent and bedded in at 8:30. I know sounds ridiculous but I was actually done for the day! Hmm, an hour later and struggling to get comfortable, I need a pillow, I need a mattress! Footsteps, someone else had turned up. Well, it is a free world, but why set up so close to me? It’s like cars in a car park, you park in the middle of nowhere and someone ignores all that space and parks beside you. Why?

At least they settled quickly and were very quiet so fair play.

Another hour, more people, only this time not so quiet. When it did fall silent, me still struggling to get comfortable, snoring! Noooo, I’m being brainwashed, once tuned in that’s it, it just won’t go away.

I’ve got a lot of adjusting to do clearly.

Despite being desperate to sleep I managed to snooze a couple of hours but nothing more. Not the experience I was hoping for and would make day two very interesting.

Waking at 5:30 in the morning I decided to get up and take a look at the weather. What a spectacular view toward Kneeset. Rolling mist in the valley with the sun already starting rise burning it off. For a while I stood there taking it in and snapping away, I could have stayed for hours, it was simply magical and the overnight irritations disappeared.

Time for breakfast and see how quickly I could break camp.

Answer, not that quickly but I did get walking by 7am which was my latest target time to be on the move so no disaster.


Day Two, the loop back to Belstone.

The sun was already rising and feeling pretty warm for such an early hour. Visibility was great and took the time pressure off regarding any map reading away from Fur tor. My second visit to Fur tor, all the challenge, fear and mystery now banished from my head. I’ll be back and next time with my camera.

The plan was to drop off the tor and follow the MOD posts across Cut Hill, through the North West passage, down to Cut Hill water and stream. Then turn left over the East Dart River then right and follow the posts toward Sittaford tor.

Having done this route before I knew what to expect, I hasn’t changed. I would say the first section down to Cut Hill water is not particularly difficult if you follow the “sort of track” between the posts. A few awkward spots but with care straightforward. Following the posts left and heading for Cut Hill stream is a little bit more difficult, the track is not quite as clear and some tuft hopping is needed along with negotiating some big holes in the ground. Approaching the stream, it does get a bit boggy but again with care and looking ahead you can get through reasonably well. There are a few spots where the holes and grass are deep and tall enough that if you go wrong, you could be in a hole with the grass in your face! Did I land in one, surely not, but how else would I know? I’ll keep you guessing on that one.

Turn right at the end of the line of posts and following the posts heading away from you. Interestingly the East Dart River, ahead of you, wasn’t that difficult to cross if you take a short time to locate a good crossing point.

Just keep following the posts until they veer off up the hill left toward Quintin’s Man, at this point take a bearing to Sittaford tor and it’s a straight line walk to the top.

This is not easy going by any means, high grass and tufts with deep holes, all traps just waiting for the clumsy walker to enter and snap their ankles. It is very slow, enormously sapping on the legs and every step has to be carefully placed to avoid injury.

Add that with an area full of cows and you have the potential for a very challenging bit of walking. After some hours on what felt like an eternity walking from Fur tor to Sittaford tor the latter finally came into view, and about time. On top of a tired start due to poor sleep this long section took a lot out of me, feeling exhausted I had to take a break and get that weight off my shoulders for a while, water and snack break included at no extra charge!

Wow, it felt good to sit and stare with the bag on the ground. Looking back, I consoled myself that I had walked a pretty good distance and what was probably a very respectable time. I could see a farmer herding a large herd of cows down onto the moor. Thanks goodness I got through before that happened, it would have made trying to detour around the cows almost impossible.

Conscious of time, break over I took the diagonal path from Sittaford to Long Ridge skirting Fernworthy reservoir. A surprisingly long section of track and path, I must have crossed Whitehorse Leat without even realising such was my desire to get to Kestor rocks, the next target. A couple of smaller stops and the route skirting the forest was straight forward albeit another long section of the days plan. Follow the forest all the way round to a gate that opens to a wide path ahead which is clearly visible. There are other tracks but take what looks from a distance a lawned grass track/path, this will take you all the way above the Three Boys standing stone, not to its position but you get to a crossroads of tracks and the stone is visible on the right.

I decided to turn left and a few meters further on turn right on a track all the way to Kestor rocks. Another break required.

Overall, I think at this point I was doing pretty well all things considered. The bag is always heavy but I was managing it, legs were tired but still moving, body was aching a bit and the head managing to control unwanted thoughts popping up and trying to avoid answering the question, why the hell am I doing this?

Had a chat with a really nice lad who was genuinely interested in the challenge while I took a break. I probably looked worse than I felt!

Time was moving on so on the move again, this time down to the North Teign, time to filter some more water, I was drinking a lot today as the weather although starting off warm and humid was now cloudy and humid. I needed to replace a lot of water as the heat took charge with little or no breeze. I was on my way to drinking four litres by the time I finished.

A quick walk up to Scorhill tor, an abrupt turn around and on my way to Rival tor via the Scorhill stone circle. Walking through the middle a choice of tracks to take. It wasn’t until later I realised, I hadn’t approached Rival tor from this direction before, I had taken the path higher up. It came as no surprise when the track I chose turned into a narrow track and not the one I expected. A group of horse riders rode passed just below and decided if they are on a track toward Rival tor it would be good for me, so I followed it!

It did get me back on the expected track but then I tried to be clever and short cut the path for a more direct route to the tor. I never learn. A cow trodden path made it very uneven and difficult before I turned uphill and straight into overgrown gorse and bracken. This was getting frustrating now. How can I be so stupid just to satisfy my curiosity?


Finally, I made it to the top and could clearly see the route back to the “main” track.

Next target Shilstone tor via Kennets Hill. If only I could make it to the top of Kennets hill I knew there was an easy path to get me onto Throwleigh Common, then a short detour around the gorse and streams in the area and I could drop down to the tor. Simples!

Only getting to the top of Kennets Hill wasn’t a stroll in the park. A wide track that started up the hill soon disappeared and once again I was struggling through gorse and bracken picking up the odd track. Another time-consuming section that sapped more energy from the legs. I really couldn’t expend any more energy tramping through this stuff.

Checking the map when home, I do that a lot, it turned out despite the challenge of getting to the top I had landed bang on the top of Kennet Hill at the point I joined the clear path across the hill from West to East. Just the easier walk down the other side. Shilstone tor, at last, another break required, it’s a great spot to sit back against the tor and gaze over the immediate area.

I could now start to feel like I was finally making progress and from a map/distance perspective didn’t seem too far from the finish. It wasn’t going to feel like that.

From Shilstone there are two options to get on the path next to the river Taw leading back to Belstone. One, head for Cosdon hill and down the other side or two, follow the road to Stickle path. It had been quite a day already so exploring a route over Cosdon hill was not a good choice today and actually works out longer than following the road. Stick to plan A then, the road it is.

Apart from being a very long road there was nothing of any great interest for me, head down and totally focussed on getting to Sticklepath.

Once reaching Sticklepath the road crosses the river, there is a footpath sign pointing left just before the bridge. Take this path and follow the signs to Skaigh. To reach Belstone simply continue on the path, you can’t really go too far wrong.


Into the woods and follow the path along the river. Stopping briefly, a family crossed over the footbridge asking if I was OK, I guess I must have looked shattered, they appeared a little concerned!

Having convinced them I was good to go and just taking a breather we parted and I carried on, over the next footbridge and now on the right-hand side of the river.

This time however, rather than pass back over the river I decided to stay on the right and follow the path all the way to Belstone, it’s clear and mostly easy to walk. A short steep section but generally not too bad. Follow it in to the green at Belstone just below the pub, I was glad to get there, oh look a bench, a final stop and some water before I go up to the road and back to the car.


Nearly forgot, how did the solar panel do? Incredibly well in my view. With hardly any direct sunlight and in mostly mist and fog it charged the GPS unit in about six hours, I think that is impressive as it virtually guarantees the ability to charge devices. I’ll continue testing as it could mean I can reduce the weight further by leaving the battery packs behind.

And the sleeping bag liner? Well, it certainly added a good deal of warmth to the sleeping bag but I would say it falls short of doing away with the bag all together. Not enough to keep you warm overnight with just the liner and thermals. Looks like I’ll be taking the sleeping bag then.


Done, and I was!

Now for the moment of truth, despite feeling tired I wasn’t down and out, so just how well had I done considering the terrain and challenges of the day.

29 km in ten hours and forty minutes with an average walking speed of 4 km per hour. Blimey, I’ll take that any day. That means I would probably have made the thirty kilometres in around or under eleven hours. With a bag weight of roughly thirty to thirty-two kilos over the weekend I ‘m pretty happy with that.

Just need to keep that up over fourteen days!

Now to start planning the next training day!


Stats Day One

24 km distance

9 Hours duration

Average trip speed 2.5 km per hour

Average walking speed 4km per hour


Stats Day Two

29 km distance

10 Hours 40 minutes duration

Average trip speed 2.5 km per hour

Average walking speed 4km per hour


My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 45

June 30, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

A big challenge deserves a big target, if you would like to support the Dartmoor Search and Rescue team Tavistock visit the link below. Thank you for your support.


Target - Raise £20,000 to help fund the new operations vehicle.

A 400 km hike across 170 tors and rocks on the Dartmoor OS OL28 map raising funds to replace their failing operations vehicle.

Training day 33 – Clearbrook Loop

So, I managed to smash out those blues and deliver the best performance so far on my last training walk, can I repeat it or was it just a flash in the pan?

As is becoming the case, many areas are being repeated to enable loops to be created with the distance required. So today was part the actual challenge route plus some open moor and roads/lanes to complete a target distance of 27km from and back to Clearbrook.


First target point, Hawk’s tor.

On the challenge itself I will be walking from Yelverton along the West Devon Way until I reach an exit point onto the road toward Shaugh Prior. What I don’t want to do is walk up to Clearbrook from Hoo Meavy, across the moor and back down to the road, just using unnecessary energy. So, walking down from Clearbrook to pick up the West Devon Way puts me where I want to be on this walk.

A walk down to Hoo Meavy takes me to the bridge over the river Meavy surprisingly. Just before the bridge on your right there is a new style and finger post pointing across a field, usually with horses in it. This has in the past been covered up and partially blocked so it’s great to see the creation of the Dartmoor Way properly reinstate this piece of footpath.

It’s a straight walk through a few fields, over a couple of styles when the path gets close to the river and out through a gate onto a road that goes to Goodameavy.

Take a right turn under the bridge and immediate left. This is the point where you leave the path and follow the road.

Heading up a reasonable slope to Leighbeer the road goes over the tunnel below on the disused railway and then heads down toward Shaugh bridge. If you haven’t been in this area, why not?

It is a typically stunning area of river and woodland with plenty of tracks and paths to follow. It also has the well-known Dewerstone rock, popular with rock climbers who can often be seen climbing, practising or training there.

But we haven’t got time to stop and stare, there’s a schedule to keep!

Over the river and follow the road. Avoiding any right turns going up the hill or other footpaths, the road will take you straight through Shaugh Prior. If you want a coffee stop there’s a bench in the church yard, just thought I would mention it!

The road up to Shaugh Prior is steep and it takes an effort to keep going. This is a “day one” section so I will have a full packed weight and the hill seems to go on for a long time!

Just for today I decided to leave Shaugh Prior via Brag Lane, curious to see if this could be any easier than continuing to follow the road. No is the answer, it just carried on up hill to add to the strain. I’ll take the more direct road to Beatland corner on the day I think.

Once at the “T” junction a simple route 45 degrees across the moor terrain to Hawk’s tor. There’s plenty of tracks to follow to get you there. It’s a small tor but an interesting one and has some fantastic views back down the valley and out to Plymouth on a clear day. There are some pretty good tracks in this area and worth a wander.

With the clay pits on your left, find a track and follow the boundary of the clay pits around roughly 400 meters and Collard tor will appear in front of you. In my view this is a pretty unimpressive tor and resembles not much more than a pile of rocks and clitter with remains of a quarry just below and to the right of the tor. It does however like Hawk’s tor have some pretty impressive views.

Now find a track leading toward Wotter below, as you approach Collard tor the path is pretty much directly opposite and found by walking straight through the clitter. Don’t worry if you miss it, you can easily descend the hill into the village. Once in the village turn left and follow the road down to the main road, turn left and continue to follow the road. There is a footpath on the left about 500 meters ahead and a nice little walk off the road if you prefer, however, I wanted the quickest route to Blackalder tor so simply follow the road until you reach a bus stop shelter on the left side of the road. A track leads away up hill just after the shelter and on your left. Walk to the top turn immediate left for 100 meters and Blackalder tor is on your right. Hidden mostly be bracken and trees it’s more impressive than first appears and better viewed early spring.

From here retrace steps back to the road and safely cross to the other side and continue along the verge or the footpath just the other side of the barrier (recommended!). Keep going until you reach a wide junction and the road leading toward Hemerdon, cross over and continue until you see a car park area. Close by on the right is Whitehill tor. A better view can be obtained by walking up and around away from the road. It looks pretty well hidden by trees from the road.

Past Whitehill and keep following the road until you reach a gate and a footpath sign pointing right across the fields. Following the direction of the signs and you’ll pass a house ruin on your left as you swing right over a wall you will approach Crownhill tor on your left.

Now, in my opinion, this really doesn’t look much like a tor at all and wonder why it has been given a title with tor in it!

Mostly buried under the earth and grass it resembles more a hill than a tor, but it’s on the map so must be visited. Well, actually is it on the map? Border line I would say, it effectively is on the overlap between two different OS maps so technically I could leave it off the list. However, as it is so close, I decided to leave it in, especially as it occurs on the day one route.

Rook tor next and this is a fair distance away. Retrace your steps back to the road, I do hate retracing steps, it seems such a waste of energy but as there is little choice the quicker it’s done the better!

Cross the road and directly opposite there is a footpath sign at Tolchmoor Gate, that directs you along a really nice footpath running parallel with the road, why wouldn’t you use it?

Follow this to Quick bridge turn left and look for a new iron “kissing gate” on your right about ten meters down the path. Follow this all the way through Newpark Wood and Sheraleers Wood until you come to an open field in Heathfield Down. Keep left until you reach the road opposite and turn left.

The nice thing walking in this direction is the path is all down hill making it easy to take time to enjoy the woods. The open area is another popular spot for dog walkers and families to walk.

Now we head uphill from Robert’s break past Middle Rook and on to West Rook Gate. The weather not mentioned so far had been pretty reasonable, cloudy with a cooling breeze to start but with sunny intervals. It was when those sunny intervals came out the temperature seemed to rise making it very warm and humid, there was plenty of water being drunk!

The hill to West Rook Gate is pretty steep and long. Our speed felt pretty good up to now and with a focused push it wasn’t too long before we reached the gate entrance to the moor.  The rocks the other side of the gate were fortunately covered in shade, the perfect spot for lunch before we launched ourselves up the hill to Penn Beacon.

It looks a long way up does Penn Beacon! I found in the past walking to the right roughly half way between West and East Rook gate there is a very clear path left that turns into a track. Following this takes you all the way up the hill to the top, but it is a long haul with a full pack, so required a few mini stops. Just before we set off up the hill, can’t remember why I actually checked the GPS. Just out of curiosity you understand. At that point we had been walking with an average trip speed of 3.6 km per hour and walking average of 5.4 km per hour, wow, that’s amazing and clearly the best timing to date. That said I also knew that average would be cut down to size over the second half of the route.

Penn Beacon and it felt like the top of the world, water break required and took advantage of some of the time we had acquired. Incidentally, the path followed and confirmed on the map when back home, took us directly over the point marked on the map of Rook tor. I know, Rook tor is further down and where the disused quarry sits! The next target Shell Top has a clear path leading to it and despite going down and then up, the hill is not difficult to walk.

Trowlesworthy tors next, a straight line looked very tempting as the terrain wasn’t too badly affected by large grass tufts and holes. I also knew the streams in that area can make the area extremely boggy and difficult to pass. Despite the recent heavy rain, we took the gamble. Hmm, it wasn’t a complete disaster but it was very wet and some places very boggy. Very carefully picking our way around and sometimes through the wet stuff it was clear a route around would have been better and if the weather had been worse surely would have been safer. As it was, knowing what to expect we made some conscious decisions and made our way through. Testing the ground, very spongy, would it take mine and the bag weight? I think so, go for it but don’t stand still. It was almost fun bog hopping but I wouldn’t do it on my own, just in case.

Up to the Trowlesworthy tors and the walk from West Rook Gate was starting to tell on the legs a bit. A quick water break and onward down to the leat, over the footbridge and past Trowlesworthy Warren House. The path winds itself down to the road with the Plym on your right all the way to Cadover Bridge. Possibly one of the most visited places on the moor, take a visit and you’ll see what I mean.

In terms of route, it’s all very straight forward now as we turn right over Cadover bridge and then take the next left into a car park with fishing lakes on the right. We’re heading for Dewerstone Rock, there are tracks along the way so just pick one and handrail the boundary wall on the left. There are a couple of outcrops, not marked on the map (I think they are named and most likely listed in the Tors of Dartmoor) that are worth having a look at. Overlooking the valley below where the Plym continues its way to the sea there are some excellent views as well as the opportunity to get some great pictures.

Skirting Wigford Down the Dewerstone comes into sight and provides another spectacular position. It’s worth taking some time out here to take it all in. On a warm sunny day, you could spend hours there. But we’re still on a mission and half an eye on our time, Anton checked his fancy techy watch that told us we were still keeping an average trip time of 3.1 km per hour, and walking an average of around 5 km per hour, still very happy with that.

The next target was Goodameavy. We needed to reach the road by Furzmoor but also needed to avoid what I knew was a boggy area in the last quarter between the Dewerstone and Furzmoor. Picking up tracks as we found them, there was no straight single track we could see, we started ok but really should have gone the long way round. The really smart move would have been to continue North until we intersected a clear path but we decided to follow the wall and then divert North to manoeuvre around the boggy section. We just didn’t divert wide enough, yep, you guessed it, our second round of bog hopping commenced.

Adding more time on and reducing the averages we finally made it to the road. From here at least we shouldn’t go wrong. Follow the road down to Lower Goodameavy, it’s a pretty steep bit of road and plays havoc on the knees (if you’re over a certain age!), to a bridge over the road at the “T” junction.

Here there are three choices, you can turn right over the style and follow the footpath to Hoo Meavy and up to Clearbrook, or, go under the bridge and turn left to pick up the dismantled railway track, or, you can go under the bridge and turn right following the road back.

As it turned out we took the third option which was probably, particularly at the end of the day, the steepest and most challenging of them. Skirting Leighbeer Plantations it’s a steep road to the top and turns from steep to a small upward incline until you reach the bridge over the leat overlooking Clearbrook. At last, we were at the top and a simple stroll down the hill to the car was all that was left.


Now this in terms of performance it was an interesting day. A very energetic start maintaining a really good speed and keeping the stopping and breaks to a minimum. We saw no one most of the day which also reduced “talking” time. We lost time climbing the hills and bog hopping but still felt we made good progress, recovering some time on the roads.

So, how did we do?

The challenge was to deliver at least 27km and aim to deliver an average trip time of 3 km per hour.

Well, the evidence was as clear as the smile on my face, what a day. The last walk was no fluke after all as we clocked up 32 km in just over ten and a quarter hours.

This challenge is suddenly starting to look like it can be done. Now let’s see if this can be maintain this form across harder terrain and worsening weather. The final test.


Total distance 32. km

Total trip time 10 hours 15 mins duration

Average trip time 3.1 km per hour

Average moving speed 4.7 km per hour