Well, the rain started late evening. By this time it was quite windy, despite being in a sheltered spot. The rain was decidedly heavy, but at least the Trailstar was pitched tail into the wind, so it wasn’t too much bother. A few drops did get through the seam seal onto the OookStar nest, but nothing to worry about. By early morning the rain had ceased. However, as I prepared breakfast there was another prolonged, heavy shower, which meant I was a bit late packing.
Not surprisingly, the path to Teign Head Farm was awash after the heavy overnight rain. Initially, I thought the weather was clearing, but there was another squally shower on the way down to the farm. I was only wearing a wind shirt, so it was back on with the waterproof top.
As I descended the slope I spotted four groups of backpackers, all going in different directions. I guessed these were youngsters training for the Ten Tors event. The path to the clapper bridge was partially flooded, so I had to make some minor detours.
I followed the track on the northern side of Manga Brook, which was easy, but waterlogged. I passed another couple of groups of Ten Tors hopefuls, exchanging greetings with those that looked up. By this time, it was very windy with light rain. As it was at my back, I wasn’t too bothered.
I climbed the stile over the dry stone wall, when I noticed that my backside was a bit wet. My Montane Atomic overtrousers had failed. Bother, I should have brought my Drilliums. Oh, well, it was a relatively minor inconvenience. The path followed the wall until a few hundred metres from Watern Tor.
At Watern Tor I met several other groups of Ten Tors trainers, some looked cheerful, others miserable. By now the wind strengthened further, so I decided to shelter behind one of the tors and have an early lunch. It was a wise decision as another squally shower passed over head, but I was sheltered under an overhang of rock.
Even sheltered behind the tor, it was a bit chilly to hang around too long. So I headed down the northern slope of Watern Tor. When I reached the ford at Walla Brook, the water looked a bit high, so I backtracked upstream to where I knew I could cross. I arrived just as another group were jumping across the brook. I followed behind them, managing to avoid the embarrassment of falling in the water.
Rather than ascend Wild Tor, I followed the track on its eastern flank, past Gallaven Mire to Hound Tor. At least it wasn’t raining, although the clouds continued to threaten.
At Hound Tor, there were another set of Ten Tors marshals and trainees. I followed the path to Little Hound Tor and then down into the valley of Small Brook. Along the way, I met a couple of backpackers who were going in the opposite direction. They were hoping to camp somewhere south of Fernworthy Forest.
After about half a kilometre, I spotted the flat area by the ford, that I had noted on the previous day as a potential camping spot. Reasoning that it might be slightly more sheltered in the lee of Metheral Hill, I left to path to investigate. There was quite a nice patch in the small ravine cut by the brook, but I was concerned that heavy rain might lead to flooding.
Although the area above the ford, sloped, a bit of judicious angling negated most of the slope. As I unpacked the Trailstar, it started to rain. With the wind and the rain, this was a good opportunity to practice erecting the Trailstar in adverse conditions. In the end, it was relatively easy. I dived under cover and put up the OookStar. The rain and wind was ferocious for the next three hours, so there was nothing to do but have some tea and gaze out of the door, sparing a thought for the poor wretches out in this downpour.
About five o’clock, the rain stopped, so I could go out and get some more water. After dinner, it looked like the weather might clear.
However, at dusk, it began to rain again. The wind dropped somewhat. Although not heavy, the rain had that light, persistent character to it. Indeed, it rained and rained all night. When I woke, as it was getting light, it was still raining. I wondered how long this could go on for.
It was misty outside and the wind had changed direction, blowing some light rain into the porch of the Trailstar. This was an inconvenience rather than a problem. There were also some drops of moisture on the OookStar from the crown of the flysheet where I hadn’t sealed it properly. As I was laying in my sleeping bag getting exasperated with the rain, miraculously, it stopped. I was able to use the en-suite. Then, as an exercise, I moved the door of the Trailstar. I was very pleased with this as it took less than a minute to achieve and gave me some protection from the breeze.
As I prepared breakfast, surprise, surprise, it started raining again. Hey, ho! I packed under the shelter and then took down the Trailstar in the rain. All good practice! It was a short trudge to Taw Marsh ford. The path was flooded in many places. When I arrived at the ford, the water level had risen considerably from a couple of days ago.
There were four Ten Tors marshals on the opposite banks, one of whom claimed that I wouldn’t get too wet if I ran across. Little did he know about my secret weapon. With a wry smile, I put on my waders and crossed the river. I had a brief chat with one of the marshals who reckoned it had been some of the worst weather he’d been out in for a long time. A last look back
It was a short walk back to Belstone. As I approached the village, guess what? It started to rain again. Never mind, it had been good trial run for the TGO Challenge!