My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 33

June 03, 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.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mybiggestdartmoorchallengeever

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 21 – Fernworthy Loop

Well, we’re starting to crack out the training walks now and it’s time to increase the pressure!

Time to up the weight to a full 30 kilos and see how the body copes, but to start with I did reduce the distance just to play safe rather than kill myself in the first attempt.

In terms of a route, this is a pretty achievable one and takes in the perimeter of Fernworthy reservoir and forest, starting and finishing at Bennetts Cross just down the road from the Warren Inn pub.

 

First target was to pick up the Two Moors Way opposite the car park, it’s not marked so you need to look carefully to avoid missing it. Once spotted it’s obvious!

It’s generally not too bad to follow but the section to the standing stone and stone row isn’t very enjoyable to walk and with a fully loaded bag those stones were being felt.

The standing stone and row is pretty impressive though and a good example of both. I resisted the temptation to dance around them like Billy Connelly did when he visited a stone circle I think in Scotland? (if you remember him!)

The weather was already warm and anyone else would be saying it was a fantastic day, which it was of course, I just had a rather large weight on my back and it was already making itself known. This could be a tough day.

Anyway, continuing to follow the Two Moors Way to the road and a left turn left me walking toward Fernworthy reservoir where I had already decided to find a bench and take a break overlooking the water. It was so nice just to sit there, watch and listen with hardly a sole around, which didn’t help because I stayed there far too long.

Down and over the stream running away from the dam, which was still in full overflow. A few pics and up the hill to Thornworthy tor, always seems to take a while to reach the top for some reason but the views are worth it.

No time to stop here today with the next target the Three Boys standing stone, still no idea why Three Boys. From here simply a case of following the forest boundary around to the point facing Magna Hill. No big deal here other than I turned and took the first track left. Knowing it would take me to the gate at the North tip of the forest I wasn’t too bothered. I should have been as it took me a little bit further left than I would have liked and needed to pick my way through the grass tufts to get back on the main track. Oh well!

By now I was starting my own personal battle with the bag weight and short frequent stops were occurring. The weather was still beautiful which didn’t help and any chance of strolling round enjoying the day started to disappear.

I made it round to the point overlooking Teignhead farm and decided to stop for lunch out of the growing breeze. It was another lovely spot to sit and watch the ponies running around and contemplate if I should detour to take in Magna Rock. Never been there yet and will one day. This day I decided to stick to plan A, a decision I was later going to applaud myself for.

After lunch a simple route to follow the forest boundary to Assycombe Hill. Just a small matter of two rather large valleys to drop into and up the other side. They don’t look too bad on the map but the sides are steep and very deceiving.

Funny enough, although I was noticeably slowing down in the heat, I made good time but can’t deny I needed a rest when I reached the top. I was getting close to finishing but the distance still required to cover was enough, at this point I was really happy I decided to ditch Magna Rock on this trip.

To finish off I wanted to see if I could navigate an easy route over Water Hill. There was a pretty good track up to it but coming down the other side wasn’t so easy. In fact I couldn’t find any kind of path resulting in a slow walk picking through the gorse and vegetation to try and pick up the Two Moors Way back to Bennetts Cross. It wasn’t that easy, and after a bit of messing around and adding unwanted distance I finally linked up with the path. I was definitely feeling the pain now and every step back to the car was painfully felt. This had been a real challenge for the first trip out with a full bag weight and the decision to start with a reduced distance of 20km was a good and sensible one.

When I finally reached the car, I was having serious doubts about carrying 30 kilos for 30km for the first few days of the challenge. I was also a bit disappointed I had only walked 18.5 km, but at least the averages were just about holding. I’ll have to take that for now.

I’ll need to plan a few more training walks before I make a decision. The jury is back in residence on that issue!

 

Stats,

Total distance 18.5 km

Total trip time 6.30 hours duration

Average trip time 2.9 km per hour

Average moving speed 4.7 km per hour

 


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