OK, let’s get back on track. James’s Dartmoor jaunt has inspired me to have a look at Dartmoor for my next trip. The last time I was on Dartmoor was on a geography field trip when I was at university, a looong time ago. I’ve been a bit lazy going to the Lakes a lot over the past year. The Lakes takes next to no planning. Dartmoor on the other hand is taking a bit of time to research.
Firstly, I have to consider whether to drive or go by train. Driving brings flexibility, but where to park the car safely is a bit of a concern. I’m looking to take a train this time, I think. It means I can do a linear walk from Ivybridge in the south to Okehampton in the north. A midday train from London can get me to Ivybridge (with one change) by 15.18, which seems quite fast.
The return journey is not quite so straightforward as I’ll have to get a bus from Okehampton to Exeter. The National Rail app on my iPhone indicates a frequent service but I’ve got find a definitive timetable somewhere on the web.
I’m looking at walking up the eastern side of Dartmoor keeping mainly to access land. I now have three sets of maps to consult, OS 1:50,000, OS 1:25,000 and Harvey’s BMC 1:40,000. Each shows a slightly different set of paths, however, on the high moor, I imagine I’ll just be able to walk in a straight(ish) line. I’m going to avoid obvious boggy hollows where I can.
While wild camping is allowed on a lot of Dartmoor, it’s not permitted everywhere. There are some basic maps and an interactive tool on the NP website (I’ll do a separate post on resources that I’ve found/used). Basically, most of the south and the north moor is OK, but the central bit from Princetown to Dartmeet is sparse, so it’s worth checking. I’ll put my exact route on another post when I’ve firmed it up.
I was concerned about the Army firing ranges on the north moor, but the information on live firing is readily available and there shouldn’t be any on the Okehampton range at the beginning of April, when I’m planning to go. I’m only going to skirt the eastern edge anyway.
I bought the Cicerone guide “Walking on Dartmoor” by John Earle, but, quite frankly I’ve found it a bit disappointing. The background stuff is reasonably informative, but the walks are mainly day walks. There’s no master map of where all the walks are and the descriptions of the long distance walks are cursory or just a list of places.
In terms of gear, I’m hoping to take my Duomid. Sean at OookWorks is making a bespoke inner for me and hopes to have it ready soon. It will be slightly larger than the floor area of the Scarp 1 (same width, but slightly longer) and weigh about 500g. With pegs and pole extender, the Duomid will be about 1.1kg. It should be palatial!
I’ll see what the weather forecast is before I leave but I’m inclined to take my Pipedream 600 after being cold in the Lakes. I must be getting old as I seem to be sleeping cold now. I’ll probably take my ULA Ohm pack, assuming that I can fit everything in, but that will depend on how much space my sleeping bag takes up.
The “extras” that I will take compared with a Lakes trip are gaiters and my lightweight waders for stream crossings. The waders weigh less than 300g, but they a very useful for stream crossings so it seems sensible to take them as whatever route I take will require some river crossings.
I’ll post some updates as I firm things up.