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.

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.

 

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.

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

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.

Training

  • 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.


Comments

Mike (watching you on the TV)(non-registered)
Good luck Chris. You're an inspiration to us all. Your planning and prep alone has involved considerable effort. Now the walk. Fingers crossed for good walking weather.
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