This Easter weekend saw Isla and I set off for Dartmoor to do a two day walk, one night wild camp expedition, with the possibility of a third day. An important opportunity to practice the navigation, and test whether I had all the correct kit with me or not.
After a 2.5 hour drive, Isla was ready and raring to go. So I hefted on the rucksack (I had forgotten how heavy a rucksack full of expedition kit is!) and off we set to our first high point, North Hessary Tor.
The visibility was absolutely fantastic and Isla was very well behaved. After a few hairy moments where it took me a while to find out where we were on the map, because all the hills in Dartmoor are brown and blob shaped, and 19.5 km, we arrived at Teignhead Farms Ruin. This was our wild camp location, and here I learnt lesson number 1:
When we stop, even in good weather, Isla realises how tired she is, and quickly gets cold. Therefore, rapid tent pitching is required so she can go and snuggle into her purple pyjamas which double up as a towel and wet dog drying device. Once she is settled, I can worry about cooking dinner.
With all the camp admin sorted, we settled down for a windy night. The Wild Country Zephyros 1 Tent, whilst compact and, lets face it, tiny, held up well. On waking in the morning, the weather had come in. Sheeting rain, high winds and poor visibility. Perfect opportunity to test out the new waterproofs and my navigation skills in poor visibility. But first, I had to pack away a wet tent and get all the kit back into the rucksack, without the kit getting too wet.
After 2 hours in horrid weather, it quickly became apparent that we had to keep moving and get back to the car ASAP before Isla got hypothermia. Am I being over-dramatic? No!!!! We were walking into the wind, and as soon as her fur was soggy, it sucked the heat out of her, even though her waterproof kept the worst of the weather off her back.
Lesson No 2: If I need spare layers to wear when it is bad weather, so does Isla!
After a route march back to Princetown totalling 18km, we piled into the car, took of the sopping wet kit, and cuddled under a blanket until we stopped shivering. Whilst it was not pleasant, it is good to know that Isla and I can last a day of nasty weather and have the capacity to heat up again at the end. But, we did not stop there! I decided to pitch the tent at the campsite and spend another night, hoping to do more navigation practice with Owen on the Sunday. We lasted the night, and managed to dry off the wet clothes in the sleeping bag, but Isla was exhausted, it was hailing, and certain key items of kit had not dried out properly. I made the judgement call to head home early, and fit in more practice expeditions before we go in July, as well as change the fitness training so both Isla and I are better prepared.
One thing is for sure, this Munro Marathon is going to be hard graft. It will be awesome, but it will be physically and mentally challenging for me and the dog. We need to consolidate our kit and make sure every gram of weight counts. And the bottom line has to be our safety. If we are in stinking weather, and the dog is tired, we will turn around and go back to the car rather than risk injury trying to get one more Munro. So, 34 are scheduled, 26 are hoped for, and we will see where we end up. Either way, please sponsor our efforts in this challenging, 3 week adventure at:
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