Easter usually involves a trip down to the Lizard in Cornwall for a weekends diving, but this year to mix it up a bit we’ve planned a circular walk and night on Dartmoor before continuing on down for the diving.
Camping and diving kit all packed in Wal’s new Land Rover and were off best part of 4 hours later we arrive at Postbridge on the east side of Dartmoor. First task find somewhere to leave the Landy safe for the night where better than a pub car park, so just to be repay the kindness of the landlord we settled on a few pints first. No idea how Wal wangled the conversation with the bar man around to a planned shoe shopping trip to London but he did.
Two pints later and back to the car kit on and we’re off for a couple mile hike up to the East Dart Falls where we plan to camp for the night. As we leave the village we take the path south of the river and begin to climb. An hour or so later we reach the top and look down towards the falls, trying to pick out a good spot to sleep. After a bit of fun jumping across the river we pick a patch for Wal’s tent and my tarp. Next time to find a spot to cook out the wind a little searching finds a small shelter created by some large rocks and we’re away boiling water for gourmet meal a Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodle and Wal’s more sensible heat in the bag ready meal.
Meal done bit of chatting then not much else to do so it’s time for bed just gone 8pm. One of the things I’d hoped to do was photograph the stars, I had packed a camera and tripod, however, just after settling down and seeing a shooting star trail across the sky the cloud started to move in and the wind start to pick up. Another wasted effort in carrying camera gear with me. Sleeping next to river I had thought would be quite soothing but had not taken into account how noisy waterfalls can be and bring on the urge to pee.
Waking the next morning was a grey affair, the sky overcast and windier than the night before. Before packing up time for quick porridge and coffee. We aimed to walk a further 10 miles up to Winney’s Down over to Sittaford Tor on through Fernworthy Forest and then loop back along the East Dart back to the car. The day was a lot windier than the previous and a lot marshier in places. One of the more atmospheric bits was coming down off Sittaford Tor to the double stone circle The Grey Wethers, to read the legend click here. Heading north towards Fernworthy Forest it began to rain and which would continue for te rest of the journey. After taking in another stone circle Fernworthy Circle although we didn’t see any eveidence of the tribe of earth gnomes. Continueing on to Fernworthy Reservoir it was time for a brew, but where to out the rain? spotting a wooden hut it was time to investigate remarkably the door was not locked pushing it open revealed benches and hatches that opened, we had stumbled upon a bird watching hide. Perfect for brewing up and drying off – the only thing it wasn’t good for was bird spotting unless you counted the shape in the bracken on the far side of the reservoir that looked like an ostrich.
Leaving the hut we returned to the forest where after the rain the scent of the pine trees was quite striking, not too far up the path we came across more upturned stones this time is two lines, a bit like the Carnac Stones in Brittany but on a much smaller scale. Leaving the pine forest led us back out on the open moor and back in into the increasing wind, heading down to re-join the East Dart and back to the car.
All in all we spent just under 24 hours on Dartmoor and only saw one other person and then not to speak to, there was no mobile reception; I will remember the remoteness and wildness which given at no time were we more than a few miles from the village was amazing.
Once back in the car it was a chance to get warm before heading off down to the Lizard for a weekends diving.