Monday, 19 April 2010

Dartmoor Challenge 2010

This year's Dartmoor Challenge charity walk was held this weekend (17th - 18th April). Over the nineteen years that the walk has been organised for, participants have raised over a hundred thousand pounds for childrens cancer charities. This year the money has been raised for the Derriford Children's Cancer Service. The walk has an excellent theme which is set by organiser, Steve Parker,  in that the 20 and 30 mile routes must end at a predetermined Inn somehere on Dartmoor after leaving the Plume of Feathers in Princetown first thing in the morning.

Those people who know me well, realise that this theme is very close to me... No, not the walking to a pub; children's cancer charities, is what I was referring to! Without going into detail I should explain that my son was diagnosed with cancer (stage 4 neuroblastoma) when he was just two and a half years old: he is now seven years old, fit and well, and with grace of God will stay that way. My family owe so much to the work of the charities that supported us throughout that period. No child or parent should ever have to go through the terrifying experience of walking onto a pediatric oncology ward: ever! However, the charities that surround and support these children and their families during treatment are just fabulous.

Back to the walk....

The objective for day one was the Oxenham Arms in South Zeal. The 15 mile route left Postbridge for Grey Wethers and Sittaford Tor, through Quintin's Man and over to Hangingstone Hill where we stopped for a bite to eat. Unfortunately, Alison had less to eat thatn others after a large hairy hound in the shape of a springer spaniel decided to run off with her sandwiches - oooops! Keeping us company over the lunch was a 4 inch piece of ordnance that sat a few yards away, it appeared as though it was 'fired / spent' but you can never be too carefull - please NEVER touch metalic object poking out of the ground within a range area. Just take note of where it is and report it -   HERE.

From Hangingstone Hill Graham managed to find us some rough ground to follow just above Watern Combe - Thanks ;-) and we soon found ourselves admiring the rock formations of Watern Tor. Onward then to Wild Tor where we posed for the mandatory group photograph.

Next stop was The White Moor Stone Circle, and once the tale of the standing stone (inthat: hugging it will bring you wealth before your next birthday) was told, members of the group 'legged it' a few hundred metres just to touch the stone, which stands isolted away from the main circle. One final climb over the magnificent crest of Cosdon brought us down into the South Zeal track.

The track itself brought it's own interest as we discovered a fair'ys house nestled in a tree! I kid you not...

Having paid hommage to the fairy's, and what with having been touched by the glorious sunshine, our pace was quite spritely as we headed for the sanctuary of the Oxenham Arms, where Andy waited with the minibus, and Carl handed out this years challenge T shirts.

The landlady tried to distract us with pots of stuffed olives, and the most amazing homemade sausage rolls that you have ever tasted, alas we were overcome by some strange desire to drink cider poured over half of Antarctica in a large glass.

Speaking of cider: are you supporting the cirder drinking campaign for the general election? I must point out at this point, that listening to the Wurzels is a personal failing of mine, and shouldnt be taken as a general indication of Devonian attitudes :-(

Moving on to day two

Day two started from the Plume of Feathers, Princetown, and out to Nun's Cross farm in absolutely cloudless skies, and with the current air restrictions not even so much as a vapour trail! Today's objective was the The Old Inn, Widecombe in the Moor. We made our way to Childe's Tomb for the second day group photograph, and then up the long ascent to Mount Misery: a cross which sits at a wall corner below the crest of Ter Hill.

Now, I dont know much about lizards but there seemed to be quite a few of them about on Sunday, Graham seemed to have th knack of catching them, and I have to say they were certainly fine little things with a diverse set of colourings from one to the next:

From Ter Hill we made our way through Hexworthy and down to Dartmeet where we stopped for the mandatory ice cream before carrying on up the banks of the East Dart.

At this point I would like to point out that if any feels that Dartmoor is a) Flat or b) Unchallenging to walk. Just try the these last five miles up and down hills, roads, tracks and moorland: you may be surprised!

So with tired feet we made a final descent from Hamel Down into Widecombe for a quick pint before Andy drove us back to Princetown.

What a fabulous weekend, thanks to everyone who took part in the organisation, and participation of this event. Thank you to the dedicated charities who help infants and children through their cancer treatments, I for one, owe you so very much.

All monies from this year's event will be presented to the Derriford  Children's Cancer Service on the 12th June 2010 at the Plume of Feathers Inn, Princetown. If anyone reading this would like to retrospectively sponsor / donate please email me:


Kate said...

You've clearly photo-shopped those photos - FAR too much sunshine and dry ground there!!
Using pubs as starts and ends of walks is always a good thing :-)

Shamus said...

Well Kate, we shall have to prove it to you, I expect you will want to take part in next year's event?

Ben said...

Looks fantastic. Must look out for it next year. I know Dartmoor is not flat or unchallenging but you must have found some boggy ground somewhere. Well done.

Shamus said...

Oh yes Ben, just a couple of boggy bits. I shall look forward to meeting you next year then :-)

Martin Rye said...

It is a fine place. I am glad the hobbit door is still there. I found it last year on a hot day to crossing Dartmoor. I miss the place and might even go there this weekend.

Shamus said...

Hi Martin, nice to hear from you. If you are coming this way in the future, do let me know. I am tied up this weekend unfortunately but would gladly join you at a later date for wild camp somewhere.

Ben said...

Cant wait when the time/date for next year is available can you let us know. Thanks

Shamus said...

Will do, once I know when, where and how I will post here and drop you a line to :-)

Maz said...

That looks like a really good few days! Some great shots - I particularly like the fairy door and the beers. A winning combination - depending on the order they came I suppose... ;-)