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A to Z Challenge: Tomorrow it begins!

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Tomorrow everything kicks off with the A to Z Challenge. A to Z Challenge is a blogging challenge. I will be posting every day (apart from Sundays for the Challenge) about place in the world that is more hidden or off the beaten track, saying this there is no set theme so all the posts will be following the line of rest of this website and could be on absolutely anything travel or adventure related. I have to say some of the places we are going to be visiting just make me what to grab my bag and catch the next flight!

Anyway, look out tomorrow for A which is going to be on… well now that would be telling wouldn’t it. Come back tomorrow and find out!

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Dartmoor Walking Festival

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As a Walking Group Leader and Dartmoor Guide I’ve been out on Dartmoor quite a lot along with hundreds of thousands of others, it’s a big place after all. It occurred to me earlier this year that Dartmoor has no walking festival which is a shame, considering the vast treks and paths, history and archaeology. Well for 2016 that’s changed: introducing the first Dartmoor Walking Festival!

The festival is being organised by myself and Simon Dell the owner of Moorland Guides. We have had a pretty busy leading up this point, but we nearly have everything covered. I say everything we are limiting the festival
, as we don’t want to over cook it on our first go. There are several rather large organisations involved such as the National Trust, The Dartmoor Rescue Group and Woodland Trust along the National Park and a plethora of local companies and people.

The most up to date information about programmes and involvement can be found on the website, watch this space as it’s always changing we are hoping to have the  full programme up in the coming months. Watch this space for now.Dartmoor Walking Festival

“The festival will run from Saturday 27th August until Sunday 4th September 2016 inclusive and will cover all areas of Dartmoor and open to everybody of all ages and abilities.

We will be putting on several events each day during the nine-day festival ranging from modest guided strolls and children’s rambles to full day walks and ambitious challenges! There really will be something for everyone.

The Dartmoor National Park are fully supporting the week with Ranger-led walks as well as archaeological visits and events and we are delighted to also have the support of those who live and work on Dartmoor within the Dartmoor Commoner’s Council. We have also tied-up in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, a wonderful charity; to support their 25th annual moor walk on the final day of the festival on Sunday 4th September when all of our week’s efforts will be targeted on raising much needed sponsorship for their work.

The end of the week will culminate in a celebration event with the British Heart Foundation at a local Princetown venue with food and entertainment being planned. Our exciting programme will also include climbing, Nordic walking, cycling and much much more. Making use of the local cycle trails will also mean that those who use mobility scooters and ‘Trampers’ can also come along and enjoy what Dartmoor has to offer.

Our aim is to have four events each day during the nine-day festival, so there really is something for everybody, with evening talks and walks included. The Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team is also supporting the week and if you have ever wondered what they do out in the dark when searching for missing walkers then come and join them on an evening exercise to find out more!”

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Coast to the Moor

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The Mongol Rally is finished, I spent 10 weeks sat in a car driving 17,000 miles across the world and what a trip it was, but, now it is time to look to other adventures and for some things that I have in mind I need to be fit… So being an adventurer what better why than to say walk from the Coast to the most isolated town on Dartmoor, Princetown. Map

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Woodcraft Spring camp

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I went and joined Exeter Woodcraft Folk at their annual Spring camp yesterday. The camp was at Cadihoe for around 80 people.
The Woodcraft Folk, is a charity organisation for young people. It provides education for social change, through  some amazing life skill workshops, sitting around a fire or just relaxing with other people. As a member of Woodcraft I have meet a lot of people from all over the UK and beyond despite having only been a District Fellow for 10 months.
The camp theme was back to basics. As a result a lot of time was spent around the camp fire, singing a variety of songs and chatting about a variety of topics mainly with.
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Getting back in to climbing

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Right has started raining again that is it summer is over, I say that I certainly hope that is it not over, but then this is Britain so anything could happen. As the weather was pretty bad climbing and bouldering on Dartmoor was not a good idea, seeming the fog had come in and it had been raining all day.
This left me and the rest of tribe with heading on down to Dartrock Climbing Centre in Buckfastleigh. We were kind of guessing that it would be a little bit busy, but, it was completely packed there was a queue in the bouldering room. Luckily for us it soon cleared and we managed to get some routes done. I had no intention of mainly due to instructing some friends and to give my recovering knees an easy time. Although I did manage to finish a few routes though mainly around VB – V1 plus a V3 that I had done previously.
From bouldering I took them around to have a bash at some top roping, leaving me on the belay for the rest of the evening. I also meet my walking group leader assessor from Vixon Climbing, which was awesome as I sorted out doing my climbing wall award training later in the year. Whilst having a good old chin-wag, Drew and Cam got my rope out and went for some lead climbing, well I guess they were I was too busy belaying. On the last climb of the day I managed to lead a 5+, I did it relatively clean, but had to have a break near the top, so not too much of a problem.

 

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Sunbathing and a walk

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Saturday another yet another glorious day (this sunshine has to end soon though). A good day for going for a gentle stroll and sunbathing. I picked up Phil and we headed up to Princetown and the home of the Fox Tor cafe. Before venturing in to the Fox Tor we needed to work up an appetite, from Princetown we headed towards Nun’s Cross Farm a pleasant walk in it’s self, we saw a fair few people out on the path, as well as, several planes flying around including a bi-plane not a common site these days.

Before getting down to Nun’s Cross Farm we cut down to the Older Bridge before following the Devonport Leat, there is a lovely little campsite at Older Bridge. Just be cautious if you are planning on camping in this region, as you are not actually supposed to be camping in the catchment area of the Burrator Resivour. I have heard of a few people that have been moved on, but, to be honest they where camping near to the roads so where discovered more easily, if staying on the open moor I doubt you will have a problem.

Following the leat above Crazy Well Pool and down to the aqueduct just below Black Tor, a truly magnificent sight and there is a campsite right next to the river. It was also really hot being in a valley and out of the wind a good opportunity to sunbath and a spot of reading and what better to read than a Dartmoor climbing guide book, unfortunately for us there were no routes on Black Tor. We still went up to have a look around and discovered a brilliant, but brave bivi. It is about 8 feet off the ground within the bigger section of the tor facing the Logan Stone to the north and the aqueduct to the south. Even the tallest person could have fitted on this ledge, I tired it out and even fully stretched out there was still a foot free. The only problem is that you get it wrong it is a long and painful drop.

Leaving Black Tor we headed up on to Hart Tor before following a “path” back to Princetown and well deserved ice cream from the Fox Tor Cafe.

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Sunset over Dartmoor

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Yet another glorious evening down here in sunny Devon, another bouldering session was on the cards with difference this time though. As I am still injured with my knees being messed up and being able to bend my left leg past about 30 degrees. Any how enough of me trying to get sympathy, as we were having a BBQ as well it took us a while to get up on to the moor via a trip to Sainsbury’s for some food.

Once on Hound Tor we had a roam around trying to find some routes, Cam decided to solo a line near to Hung Like a Baboon. Drew and Cam took his fandango camera to get some amazing pictures of the approaching sunset, more annoyingly he has not sent them to me so I cannot share them with you. However, Cameron did get this pretty nice photo on his camera.

Sunset from Hound Tor
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Animals out in the sun…

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On waking up after a relatively good nights sleep – the post below has day 1 of the adventure – it was time to get home and get off to a meal for midday. Leaving Chalk Ford we headed towards Scorriton on the Two Moors Way, before heading back on ourselves to the open moor. This track took us through some meadows, we noticed on the way several bird watching towers in the valley below. Another 500 metres down the track we came across a large herd of deer, there must have been at least 30 maybe more, being very stealth like and following the path we managed to get about 30 metres away from them. We were then picked up and they were gone at incredible pace down the hill. They soon disappeared as we carried on walking a very large stag came up on to the crest of the hill. I had never seen a stag this close before there are really quite large animals especially with a large set of antlers.

Moving away from the deer we headed out to open moorland and pick a track that would take us back to Combestone Tor via the Holne Moor Tin workings. But this is Dartmoor and tracks are very good at not being in the right place or even there at all! While trying to find the path on our way we came across yet more wildlife, this time a fox hunting which was a little bit of a surprise to me as foxes are mainly nocturnal. Yet another great photo opportunity missed! I think a new camera is in order does anybody have any suggestions? 

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Christening the Yak Adventure Cag

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It was weird coming home from work to find the sun still out and it still warm! Being a Wednesday Teignbridge Canoe Club meet at their club, on the sea wall in front of the Lido and go for a paddle in the sea. depending on the weather they go out to the Parson and Clarke, surfing or up the estuary.

Seemed like a good opportunity to try out my new Yak Adventure Cag and me being a bargain hunter, I got it for a silly price around £40.00 instead of a £110.00. I have to report that after one use it seems like good piece of kit, especially for touring. I can not really comment on how it performs after that untill i use it more which I will without a doubt. The paddle out to the Parson and Clarke was a sunny and windy one. It was a fairly uneventful paddle up and around the Parson and Clarke apart from being blown around a bit it was fine. However, the best thing about the paddle was meeting new people and getting pointers off of the more experienced people. The trip back was very similar more socialising.

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Spitchwick

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Being a bank holiday Monday, Paul and I decided to go for a paddle with the kayaks, however, little did we know how low the water was and ended up going for a swim at Spitchwick on the River Dart. I have never been to Spitchwick, and when we got there I realised I had been missing out on a lot! After a quick scout around and avoiding everybody we get to waters edge. To discover that despite it being sunny and quite warm the water was pretty damn cold! Not that this deterred us, after much procrastinating we plunged in to the deep as you could say. After a quick swim – a very quick swim- we stopped and watched some people jump off of a ledge that was a considerable height above the river. It looked pretty dicey especially with the water quite low. If the water was higher, I might have tired it and if it was warmer! But as it was not there was no chance.
It just shows how little of the world I have seen that I did not even know about a brilliant venue right on my door step, time for some more adventures closer to home one feels.