Finally, a trip away slotted between two hospital appointments. Dartmoor was an area I had been considering for some time. Arriving at Ivybridge on the Thursday, it was noticeable how cold it was. A mile and a half detour in to town for a few bits and then it was a plod up the hill toward the moor. The lane that leads to the open moor was badly washed out in places. Deep ruts, rocks and stone made for some careful footwork. The wind was noticeably stronger as I headed out on to the open moor and it was a cold easterly one. Basically I was heading for the old tramway that once served several industrial workings in the area. Having been here once before,, many years back, my concern was the lack of sheltered spots to camp. The moor is wide and open and offers little in the way of sheltered spots to camp. A stand of trees below the track failed to configure with anything on the map. There was a farm close by and it was evident that the place was heavily used by the farmer to tend his sheep. Finally I opted to pitch by Hangeshell Rock. Not an ideal spot although there was some protection from the wind. A few snow flurries whirled through as I pitched.
Unfortunately the wind swung around to east, north east during the evening. It lead to a wind tossed night, not at all comfortable. By Friday morning all was frozen. Water left in the cook pot was solid, the water bag was largely ice as well. The gas cylinder had to be placed in the sleeping bag for a while to get it functioning in a somewhat hesitant manner. It had been a bitterly cold night. Setting off in the morning I was wearing almost all my layers. The wind buffeted me as as I plodded up the track. The old tramway does not aspire to exciting walking. As it was I ambled past the turn off for the Abbots Way and had to backtrack. Fortunately the wind had eased a tad.. Not so the cold.
Coming around by Dry Lakes ford I spotted a possible camping spot. It was still early, however, after a few of the usual stomach problems earlier in the day and with a dearth of camping spots, it was an easy call. Another perishing cold night. Not helped by having to dive out of the tent twice in a rush. Sheer purgatory, enhanced by showers of ice crystals cascading down the back of the neck.
Saturday morning saw everything deeply frozen. There was no wind though and then something miraculous happened. The sun came up and it soon became warm It had been my intention to carry on over to Princetown. Somehow though I wandered off toward Great Gnats Head, and Nakers Hill and a meandering circuit following a ridge line. At one point I was heading across country, using a boulder in the distance as an aiming point. Unfortunately it got up and walked away. One of the many ponies that frequent the moor. Coming around by Green Hill I then descended down to Erme Pits. The cold weather had meant that the bogs where largely frozen and one could traipse with some impunity through what would normally be difficult ground.
It was an easy call to stop and enjoy the afternoon sunshine. With the tent up and sleeping bag airing, it was an afternoon to be savoured. Mind, as soon as the sun went down so the temperature plummeted. By morning everything was frozen once more and the cold east wind was back. It was decision time, Monday morning I was heading out and needed to be in close to Ivybridge. Having only had a cats lick of a wash over the three days I felt dirty and craved a hot shower and clean clothes.. Nipped up Piles hill on the way back. An interesting and massive cairn on top. It was then on to town and a B&B. My mileage was disappointing for the three days. Roughly around thirty miles. There are a few photos but my computer is dying and refuses to let me download them. It is a confidence booster though. Hopefully next week there will be better thing achieved??????