Dartmoor again part 2: the bog of doom

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A bright morning

The day dawned with hardly any clouds in the sky. Once the sun was up, it warmed up quickly, although there was a pleasant cooling breeze. Today’s objective was to walk east to Bellever and camp below Riddon Ridge.

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Conies Down Tor and the head of the Cowsic River

We followed the River Walkham for a short way north, then cut north of Blackbrook Head. The going was a bit tussocky and boggy, particularly when we reached the depression before Conies Down Tor. The ground improved markedly as we climbed the tor. At the summit, we met yet another group of ponies.

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Head of the Cowsic River

From Conies Down Tor we skirted the head of the Cowsic River. Fortunately, there was a reasonable path, although it was still a bit wet in places.Β  The next objective was the ambitiously named Devil’s Tor, which was actually not that impressive. More impressive than the tor was a massive standing stone.

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Devil’s Tor and standing stone

From Devil’s Tor we could easily make out the military observation post on Rough Tor. There was a clear path between the tors, although it looked a bit wet. In the event, it was pretty good. Rough Tor is a good view point and we took in the views for a few minutes.

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Longaford Tor from Rough Tor

From Rough Tor we descended into the valley of the infant West Dart River and then followed a track north of Brown’s House. We skirted the slope of Broad Down and stopped for lunch at the stream that descends into Hollowcombe Bottom.

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The lunch time view

After lunch we made for Lower White Tor, then Higher White Tor. The going was easy as we approached the impressive Longaford Tor. Longaford looks impregnable but we found a way up the northern side of the tor.

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Bellever Tor from Longaford Tor

The descent from the top of the tor was a bit tricky, but OK. Then we made a bit of a navigational mistake. There was a clear path down to the Powdermills next to a wall. Andy went haring off. If we had looked more carefully at the map, we should have followed a different path, further south. The path we followed meant we had to cross over a marshy stretch to get to the Powdermills.

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The Bog of Doom with the Powdermills chimney in the background

Little did we know that this was the Bog of Doom. Everything seemed OK to start with. The tussocks required a bit of careful balance, aided by trekking poles. Then in the centre, the surface became an unstable mat of vegetation with flowing water underneath. Andy went in up to his knee and got a shoe full of water. I decided speed was the answer, so I half ran across, getting some water in my boot in the process. Of course, I got the blame, despite Andy leading us down the wrong path πŸ˜‰ . I’m sure there are worse bogs in Scotland, maybe even Dartmoor, but it was the worst I’ve come across.

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Looking back towards Longaford Tor

From the Powdermills, we followed a sketchy path to the edge of Bellever Forest. Initially the path in the forest gave us some pleasant shade. After turning east, we were once again in the sun. We thought about visiting Bellever Tor, but decided to push on to Bellever on some forest roads.

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Bellever

My original plan had been to camp on the opposite side of the river to the forest car park outside Bellever, below Riddon Ridge. When we arrived, we were dismayed to find a crowd of people on both sides of the river sunbathing and swimming. Also, the toilet block, while welcome, didn’t provide drinking water and we didn’t fancy using the water from the river. So, I had a quick rethink. It was only mid-afternoon. I felt we could easily make it to the beehive hut on the East Dart, which is an excellent place to camp.

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Postbridge Post Office

The other advantage was that we could visit the Post Office at Postbridge for refreshments. A pleasant path led us through a field to Postbridge after a short initial section of road. At the Post Office, drinks and ice creams were purchased as well as some other supplies for Andy. Suitably refreshed, we pushed on.

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Postbridge from Hartland Tor

After skirting the fields around Hartyland, instead of following the path along the river, we made a short ascent to Hartland Tor. I’ve walked the river path a couple of times and it’s quite tough with gorse bushes and uneven tracks. The path above the river is much better, with minimal gorse and dry underfoot.

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View west from near the beehive hut

In no time at all, we were at the beehive hut and our camping spot. After we erected the tents, the sky became noticeably cloudier and the wind felt fresher. The forecast was for rain in the middle of the night, but it felt like it might arrive early.

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Camping at the beehive hut on the East Dart River

Indeed, light rain arrived mid evening and we battened down the hatches. During the night, we had some serious rain and wind. On a previous visit to Dartmoor, my Duomid leaked. I was pleased to note that there were no problems this time, even if, at times, it rattled like a plastic carrier bag.

In part three, Andy has more encounters with insects, not all to his liking πŸ˜‰

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20 thoughts on “Dartmoor again part 2: the bog of doom”

    1. I’m growing to like it more and more. Great places to camp and the freedom to wander where you like (unless there’s firing on the ranges).

  1. A very enjoyable report, we will have to get you to the bogs in Lapland, running is not an option, unless you can sprint 400 metres or so, as your feet gradually sink deeper and deeper and …

    So when is your next trip?

    1. Probably do something in Sept. Not sure where or when. I imagine Dartmoor is a bit tame compared with Scandinavia πŸ˜‰

  2. Thank you for the write up! Some of the places you visited brought back some very pleasant memories. Dartmoor might not have the sheer hills and mountains of other destinations, but it more than makes up for this by it’s sheer ruggedness and lack of tracks.

    Looking forward to the next one! πŸ™‚

  3. You had a good trip Robin. Can I tap into your expertise with the Duomid ? I am
    thinking of getting a cuben Solomid. Some people say cuben crackles a lot. Do you find the Cuben noisy in the wind in that respect.? Also thinking of adding extra tie outs as will be using it in windy Scotland. As supplied it only has one mid panel tie out at the long back. Was thinking of adding mid panel tie outs on both ends as well ,and two extra low guys spaced out along the back and one each in the middle of the sides.Currently
    the Solomid is only supplied with four corner low guy points.Although the tent will be supported by my inverted V shape pacer poles which will hold the the sides from blowing in, I should
    like to reduce any flapping if poss. Your input would be much appreciated.

    1. Cuben does tend to rattle a bit in the wind, rather like a carrier bag but I’ve not found it a huge problem. I usually carry earplugs anyway.

      On my Duomid, I’ve found the extra tie outs on the rear panel to be vey beneficial both in controlling flapping and ensuring that space is not compromised in strong winds. I’ve used a combination of cord and shock cord for adjustability and to ensure that it doesn’t put too much stress on the fabric.

      Whether you need to have mid tie outs on the end panels of the Solomid, I don’t know. My inclination would be to have some on the basis that if they are not needed, then you don’t have to use them. If you are getting Ron to do the mods, get a linelok on both door panels by the zip, then you can have either side open or closed.

      Hope that helps.

      PS I will post a picture of the rear panel when I do a gear round up.

  4. Thanks , Robin, for your comments re Solomid. Very helpful. I always carry earplugs
    as well. I particularly like the green colour of the cuben. If Ron had offered green in the silnylon I would probably go for that due cost. Do you think cuben has any signidficant advantages apart from weight ?

    1. The big advantage of cuben for mid shelters is it doesn’t stretch, so you can make a very taut pitch. I prefer the cuben Duomid to the silnylon one. I’ve given my silnylon one to a friend.

  5. Many thanks Robin,and for such a prompt reply. I do like a taught pitch.
    Cuben is the way to go then. Look forward to your part 3 and gear round up.

  6. ‘we were dismayed to find a crowd of people on both sides of the river sunbathing and swimming’

    Well it is right next to the road!

    Looks like another nice trip, and great photos as usual, but I’m a little dismayed by the tone of a couple of your comments about people who are probably relatively local enjoying the moors. (I’m local and know many folk who enjoy the DNP who aren’t backpackers. Why shouldn’t they?)

    1. There was no implication on my part that they shouldn’t be there. I’m entirely happy that there’s a load of people enjoying the delights of Dartmoor. They are just as entitled to enjoy it as me.

      My dismay was that I was looking forward to camping there and that my plan had fallen apart. It didn’t matter as it was easy to formulate a fall back.

      Apologies if it didn’t read quite the way I intended it.

  7. Cheers Robin. I was maybe over sensitive.
    as I read pt 1 and 2 the same session the 2 comments jumped out at me. Being localish I guess I bit.
    Occasionally one detects elements of elitism in outdoor blogs n forums, (and maybe all of us are all guilty of it a little – “I’m more outdoorsy/lighter packing/wildercampinger than them”….).

    I often see comments on trip reports or forum advice where people moan about Kids out doing Ten Tors training on the moor, which irks me. It’s a life changing experience for them, and is a demanding challenge(compared to DoE expeditions or the average overnighter).

    1. No problem. I’m happy to share the outdoors with all and sundry (as long as they respect it). Sometimes the written word doesn’t come across as intended.

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