As 2013 draws to a close, I thought I’d do a quick review of my backpacking year. While it’s not been a mega year, I’ve managed to get out for five trips, two to the Lake District, two to Dartmoor and one to North Wales, totalling sixteen nights wild camping (plus five at camp sites).
Disappointingly, I missed out on the TGO Challenge. However, family health problems meant it might have been difficult to do anyway. I had intended to do a short trip to Scotland, but various obstacles meant it didn’t happen.
Lake District, March
In March, I had a lovely trip around the less frequented fells of Caldbeck and Uldale. The Northern Fells have a unique character and are well worth a visit. The weather was good for the first day, but not so good for the next couple of days. Stupidly, I left my compass behind, but survived to tell the tale. You can read a full account here.
My next trip was around the north moor on Dartmoor. I love pottering around Dartmoor. It may not have the grandeur of the Lakes, Snowdonia or, indeed, the Scottish Highlands, but the terrain means it’s relatively easy to wander wherever the fancy takes you.
Although the tors are relatively low in height, the moors have a feeling of space and freedom. I’ve been surprised at how few people seem to go much further than a few hundred yards beyond the car park. Once you get on to the moors proper, there’s a real feeling of loneliness and isolation, which I love.
I’ve found a number of superb places to wild camp. On this trip I discovered the Arcadia of South Teign Head, which is one of the best places I’ve camped. The walk up the East Dart onto the moor below Cut Hill is one of the finest walks I’ve done anywhere. I split the trip report into two parts: one and two.
Another under-appreciated area that I love is the Carneddau. The crowds head to Snowdon and the Glyderau, but those seeking solitude head for the Carneddau. I had unusually fine weather for this trip and loved every minute of it.
Maeneira is another favourite camping spot and I camped there two nights but in different places. I was able to take a look at the quarry in Cwm Eigiau for the first time. Despite going over familiar ground like Llyn Cowlyd, it was still a lovely walk. Read the trip report here.
In August, I returned to Dartmoor, but this time I was not alone. Veteran ( ;-) ) TGO Challenger, Andy Walker accompanied me. We had a fine walk from Ivybridge to Okehampton and were blessed with generally good weather.
I had wanted to camp at Piles Copse for some time and wasn’t disappointed. The walk up Erme Head to Princetown and then Great Mis Tor was new territory for me. The walk east to Bellever Tor was notable for Andy’s encounter with “The Bog of Doom”.
From Bellever, most of the territory was familiar, but no less enjoyable for that. We were very fortunate that the only rain we had was overnight and that the walk from the East Dart to Taw Marsh was in mainly fine weather. Rounding off the trip with a visit to the cafe at Okehampton station was a fine way to end the trip.
Lake District, September
My last trip of the year was a return to the Lake District, but with the objective of exploring some ground that I’d not been over before. Mosedale near Buttemere is a place I’ve wanted to visit for some time. I did a relatively low level walk from Braithwaite to Buttemere and then to Mosedale.
My original plan had been to walk the High Stile ridge with a possible camp at Blackbeck Tarn. However, the weather was poor, so I decided to stay low and walk back the way I’d come. I diverted to a lovely camping spot at Rigg Beck for my final wild camp of the year. You can read about it here: part 1 and part 2.
So that was my backpacking year. It’s a shame I didn’t make it to Scotland. However, in 2014, I have the TGO Challenge to look forward to. The prospect of doing two whole weeks of backpacking in one go is exciting. Before then, I hope to do two or three trips, depending on the weather and circumstances. Hopefully, you will have a good backpacking 2014 as well.