Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Where's the Bl**dy Gate!

I've bought a few things lately  so more 'fessing up to taking up valuable motorhome storage  space is required. To balance all the wanton capitalism  I've also taken two bags of stuff to the charity shop so we're not tunnelling in our thirty-odd cubic metres of living space yet. Wardrobe additions have included a new handbag to replace my staple that was looking well tatty and some summer clothes as most of mine are unavailable, no doubt buried near the back of a storage container somewhere on the edge of Dartmoor.  As we'd planned to move into our house this month I only brought a winter wardrobe.  On the practical side I've added a rolling pin to my kitchen accoutrements and a nice basket of clothes pegs have a home in the cupboard under the bathroom sink.  Now that the weather is warmer I'll be making use of the communal washing lines rather than spending a fortune in the campsite dryers.  Fingers crossed that my knickers don't get pinched!   I've also bought two great big bits of lino for I have printmaking plans and this book.  I've been hankering after a walking guide for Dartmoor for a while now and this one fits the bill.  I've used Cicerone Guides in the past in Mallorca and Corsica and found them excellent.

Rain was due to set in later in the day  yesterday so I thought planning a shortish early morning amble was a good idea.  Especially as my rain gear is in Brixham.  I always leave something there when I go and stay with 'my boys', as I did this weekend.  It's  become a standing joke.  Route 23 looked a good'un.  A five mile jaunt, with a start point just a ten minute drive from home with lots of ancient history to spot to keep me occupied en route.  I strode out confidently at around 8:30 with just my guidebook and mobile phone for company.  After all I am a creature of the moor.  A full set of gear is for Walter Softies. Isn't it?

' Walk about 300m north, parallel to the road and enter the newtake by the gate on the east side, which is set back in a recess'.   Thus began the instructions.  What's a newtake when it's at home?   I was hoping to find out.  After about 150m I came to a promising path which had no gate. Obviously too soon so I continued a long way down a hill to another car park.   Well that wasn't mentioned in the book.  At least there was a track heading away from it so I thought that I could meet the one that I was supposed to be on.  Well I finally met a path but now the instructions were totally out of kilter with the surrounding landscape.  There was supposed to be burial cairns and all sorts but even in my wildest imagination I couldn't see anything that looked like that suggested that there were a few dead cavemen under a pile of rocks.

The furthest point of my walk ended up on the summit of a random tor.  I'd no idea of its name. Luckily I was able to retrace my steps easily.  I was back at the car within about half an hour, down that bloody path that was supposed to have a bloody gate near the bloody road that was too near the bloody car park in the first place.  So much for getting a good amount of time communing with nature.  I scurried back to the motorhome in disgust for a consolatory bacon sandwich, ready to write an angry letter to the publishers.

Thankfully before I started to pen something furious,  I looked at the map that I'd left at home.  Oops! I'd headed off in a westerly direction rather than northbound at the start of the walk.  If my map reading skills serve me better than my internal compass I think that I climbed Top Tor.  Without the grumpiness it would have been a nice little hike in its own right.  If Thursday brings a fairweather evening I'll make attempt number two at Walk 23.    I've learnt my lesson and will take my map and compass next time!


  1. Always check direction at least twice.

  2. Do you have a date for moving out of the van? Jx

    1. Yes, the end of October unless my tenants move out sooner.x