Thursday, 18 September 2008

A chill in the air

From car to twilight fresh ground as peat stained earth rolls beneath my feet. No conveyor, heaving breath and feet ploughing up ancient long forgotten forest. Furze bound as I turn to track and startle cattle that move on to chew and shelter.

Blackslade passed, the gentle rise to wittaburrow's scattered stones laying where three thousand years could not move them; laid by men; now interred.

The moorland sunset clear and crisp. Clear. Tors and hills presented for skyline muster, my inspection: my moor. God given, God thanked I run on through settlements where once my ancestors had farmed, a child in the long grass playing in the depths of imagination, my grandfathers forefather.

Beyond lies bog, it was bog then and is now. Bracken covers hillward slopes as I press against them, digging in. Bracken brown and beaten by summers sun now receding to autumn gold.

I rise atop Pill Tor with Rippon rising to my Eastern flank, noble, great yet unvisited in her loneliest moments.

Boyond the ponies happy to roam, wild. The pace quickens my heart beating faster and legs workingharderfasterstronger beyond my normal thresholds....... ALIVE!

I reach the car and think, there was a chill in the air tonight.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Run for it!

Another afternoon out running the moor, this time around Ryders Hill and the Avon. Most of the route was an absolute bog after the recent torrent of rain. I returned back at Combestone Tor two hours after setting out. I have to say I felt totally drained, and yet I can spend three hours running up and down a Scottish mountain and feel less deprived of energy - why? I can only suppose that boggy ground (continuous) must have a cumulative and continual drag on energy levels in a similar way to ABS braking I suppose. Never mind all good training and plenty of sweat. I knew that rain was going to be good for something!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Who do you trust?

Sorry for the delay in transmission, however I have been side tracked along the way!

Starting with 2 weeks in Scotland, which by most standards I would say was fine: OK it rained, except for one day when I briefly saw the sun: OK the midges came out..... you just cant win sometimes can you. Anyway, despite a rather damp feel to the air I managed to run Ben Nevis (twice) and then head over for a trot up into the Mamores. Now while running the descent I bumped into a group of German (I think) visitors:

"which way to the split in the track?" said a cheerful young man.

"Well I dont live here and I am just out for a run, but there is a kind of cross in the path up there on the saddle before you ascend the summit is that what you are looking for?"

"Oh yes, can you tell me is it the West Highland way?"

"I havent a clue mate I am just up here for a run"

"Oh well that will be it then, how long to the top?"

By now I was loosing patience as I was cooling down. "An hour at the rate you are walking" I replied. "But I dont know if that is the route you are looking for, havent you got a map?"

"Oh yes, a very bad one"

"Good luck" and off I ran back into Glen Nevis. On reaching the car I checked my map to find that they were indeed mistaken and that wasnt the path at all! Never mind, it's nice to be back...

Sunday, 17 August 2008

It leaks!

The sky was grey at threatening as I set out on my evening run across the moor. The summer seasons wetness made tussocks grow to full volume which didn't help as I splashed through the wet ground. Past Hart Tor, beyond Black and on to Leather and Sharpitor; sky blackened and the visibility dropped to nothingness as I grabbed for my compass to take a bearing for the road I wanted to cross. The rain came down and the chill bit in as I made the old railway track that passes the back of Ingra Tor. I was chilled clean through to the bone despite a fast pace and by Swell Tor Quarry had donned my lite Speed jacket. Around Kings Tor and onward toward Princetown I reached the car. I grabbed my larger sack and popped the Golite Hex up for a nights shelter with the full intention of a good day to follow tomorrow. The rain came down like stair rods and the wind pressed against the Hex. I was puzzled: where the hell was that water coming from..... damn it's the seams....It leaks!


Saturday, 9 August 2008

A definition of rain...

Relative humidity, dry and wet bulb temperatures, due point, slide rules and saturated air... Well those are words I seem to associate with rain; I am fairly sure that if we tossed them around we could define it. I suppose what I am really driving at here isn't a definition for precipitation, more a definition of our expectations. Lets face it outdoors folk; rain is here to stay, so lets enjoy it. A glorious day in God's good sunshine is certainly something to appreciate but as we seem to be blessed with more rain than shine perhaps some appreciation may lighten our lives just that bit further.

I ran through Hembury Woods on the edge of the moor near Buckfast tonight, it lashed it down with rain. My heart was heavy as I dug into the first leaf mulched beech and oak clad hill, I felt the bite of my shoes as they gripped deep down into the mud and water trickled past, bows dipped heavy with loaded leaves and I topped out of the hill into a clearing near the iron age fort. Blood thumped through my head like a mechanical hammer, I knew it was going to be wet through there so I opened up my stride and struck for the other side with little care or attention to the depth of water in front of me; the dog too opened up his stride and startled a small rabbit who, had it been any other dog, would have been snapped up. Smiling to myself I was actually enjoying the wet as I now trusted the sole unit to grip the cobble-like rocks as I skipped back down toward the river. I took some of my usual turns through the hill and woodland with wet skin soaked and sweating, it was fabulous! There was steam rising from summer's warmth, and the top of the woodland was cloaked in a fine strata of mist, what a time of year, night, day! Back along the river as the night crept into the woodland and took life from the light, the River Dart looked angry, malevolent, or perhaps mischievous as her sides snaked and swelled into eddies and stoppers along the way. As the water falls on the Dart in spate, it glistens red with peat stain, not your normal brown of muddy waters, but a deep deep red that contrasts the summer green from the alders that grow around her banks. Suddenly it was there for a moment! a bar of silver a yard long, topping and tailing to show an ancient eye and the hooked kype of a male jaw; salmon, gone again. I dug into the final hill and again felt the hammer pounding through my veins as I reached the top.

Rain, good isn't it. I hope it comes to visit again soon.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


Having rummaged through a few old Kodachrome slides I found this little gem that I took some years ago in the Antarctic. Certainly not something that would be of much use on Dartmoor, but a reminder in the debate of tarps/ tents etc etc etc that there are also extreme shelters such as this. The pyramid tent weighs.... a lot... and is double skinned ventile outer with four large diameter allow legs / poles. It was an absolute palace to live in.

Above is the worlds finest dog team (I would argue) I have scanned this from one of my B+W prints which is why it is looking a bit ropey... Anyway, the team is 'The Admirals' of Rothera Base Antarctica taken in the winter of 1992 when the sea ice was really good and allowed John S and myself to sledge south to the Argentine base on the Debenham Islands. I suppose much of this isn't relevant to today really, nor to this blog, but what the hell I may as well share some memories alongthe way. :-)
I cant get the hang of posting pictures an text and everything seems to arrive at the top of the page so if anyone has some guidance on this I would be grateful.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Evening On The South Moor

A short outing tonight: a run from Cold East Cross up to Whittabarrow and across to Tunhill Rocks heading for Bonehill and then back across Top and Pill Tor. Interstingly enough (or at least I find it is) is a granite water trough carved out of the rock in situ at Tunhill Rocks, it just sits their amidst the Tor either having been incomplete or perhaps the craftsman who started it passed on???

It is only a short run of about 45 minutes or so but it takes in asome fantastic scenery with views across to Princetown and Cut Hill. The route is under the shadow of Rippon Tor, which is a grand Tor standing proud to the SW of Haytor Rocks, now almost osolated by the roads that run past.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Ooouch 22km of bog and tussock

Well that really did hurt... I had planned a 27km run across the moor today but cut it short by visiting various sites of interest along the way (well they were interesting to me anyway) This included Green Hill and Great Gnats Head. Boggy ground and tussocks all the way around today barely an opportunity for flat ground. that was really tough going.

This weekend saw a flurry of activity; Starting with Friday night I decided a run may be in order. Camped at the Fox and Hounds Bridestow (North Moor) I ran to Brat and Arms Tor for some exercise. The weather (being a Dartmoor summer) closed in and left me with very little visibility. However not to be out-done I obviously made it back to the campsite!

Saturday was a great day out, a fast walk from Nodden Gate around Brat Tor found me into the boulder field at the foot of Hare Tor. Then descend into the Tavy. The river was in Half spate so I investigated the Watern Oke settlement before heading off to Sandy Ford across to Pinswell and up to Fur Tor. A Ravens nest now sits in the Tor - it was huge. I then headed across Fur Tor Brook and around little Kneeset heading toward the West Okement, up and over Amicombe hill, Green Tor Great Links and back to the Lyd at Nodden Gate. An assortment of Bloggers had camped there for the night, a great group of people who I found later in the pub with a pint or two.