Wild Camping Dartmoor – A very long night

“First time with the Hilleberg Akto, I just wish it had been less of an extreme test. Wild camping in Dartmoor is one of my favourite places to visit”

Joined the Tarka Trail from Okehampton, following one of my favourite sections in Dartmoor. The East Okemount River flows though beautiful shaded woodland all covered in moss and dripping wet, it feels very ancient and untouched as you pass.

Wild Camping on Dartmoor

The moor eventually starts to peek through the trees and finally opens its self up in spectacular fashion once you walk out from the woods and onto Belstone Common. The ascent is very quick to do and the views of the moor really are inspiring.

As you are on the edge of the moor at this point the adventure could continue for many days, just look at the MOD range times to make sure nothing interrupts your visit. Wild camping on Dartmoor allows you this freedom.

Wild camping on Dartmoor
My Akto poorly pitched on the moors…how embarrassing.

However my destination for that day was the stream before Taw Marsh. I normally spend nights on Dartmoor in a sheltered (or so I thought) spot by this stream. It has everything you need, lots of water and views aplenty. I pitched the Akto very quickly, I had not read the instructions but I didn’t encounter much confusion with where everything should go. Dinner made and photographs taken and it seemed like a lovely evening on the moors. I always read the weather forecast and it said some heavy rain was expected, but I thought nothing of it.

The Storm

At around 7:30pm it all kicked off. Strong winds at first and light rain which quickly turned much more aggressive. My Akto was bending this way and that, shaking all over. I spent the night worrying about that fateful snap of a pole or guy line.

The night dragged on sleepless and restless. The early hours I thought would have brought calm but instead it got worse. Hard rain and wind battered my only shelter. Wild camping on Dartmoor is challenging and sometimes brutal.

Daylight finally arrived but no rest from the weather. With my whole tent being lifted off the ground every few seconds I hastily donned the Gore Tex and packed up everything in the rucksack apart from the tent. I stepped out into the elements; the wind was able to move me about and coupled with the rain, so strong that I could not look down the valley.

With my back to the angered moors I un pegged half of the tent and stuffed it away, I noticed that a bog had developed around my tent too. One of the guy lines was completely submerged. With the tent away I made a final check to see if I had forgotten anything and made my escape to lower ground.

Next trip The Lake District or North Wales…

– Sunny

3 thoughts on “Wild Camping Dartmoor – A very long night

  • February 24, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Hi Sonny, good to see that you tested the Akto. We had a great chat about the tent in your shop a few weeks back when I was checking out the tent for size. I dont feel that you were completely happy with the tent even though the weather seemed bad. What was your review.??

    • February 25, 2011 at 7:03 am

      Hi Liam, great to hear from you again.
      I have yet to do my full review as I need to take it on more trips to get a complete sense of the tent. First time pitching it too added to the problem of shaking in the wind I believe. Quality wise, I have never been in anything so well made out on the hills.

      I am also considering the Wild Country Sololite, maybe you should give that tent a little look too?
      Tell me your thoughts pls


  • April 4, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Hi Sunny.
    I spoke with you today about various camping subjects. I mentioned I went to dartmoor around the beginning of march. I camped the first night on the moor to the south west side of fernworthy forest. I wanted to use the forest as a windbreak and source of combustable material. I was camped on a flat area between 2 areas of higher ground with a brook for water. Was using a Snugpack scorpion 2. Was -2 outside with a strog wind but was ok in the tent. how did you make fire where you were? it seemed to be quite barren where you were camped. I was shocked at just how wet everything was. I found wood but it was all wet, even the dead standing wood was not totally dry inside. collected what i could and then got the fire underway. Couldnt get anything to burn above the size of small sticks. Then I checked around and saw the gorse that was growing nearby. I knew this burns intensely even when green so i cut some and fed small pieces on to the fire, this got the heat up and allowed me to boil water and make soup. The fire the next morning was much better and I put logs on to char and dry out. Then cut these into bricket sized pieces and took them with me to the next area. The second night I camped just inside the edge of the Bellever forest around lakehead hill. The fire that night was much better and I improved the ground insulation by collecting masses of the dry windswept grass and spreading a thick layer under my groundsheet, This kept me much warmer and was much more comfortable(i dont use a mat). The one thing that I kicked myself for was not bringing birchbark. I had left some at home and there was plenty around on the outskirts of Dartmoor but I stupidly presumed there would be some round the forest. Big mistake, It was a plantation and no birch was present. Must always bring some in future. Still i found some lichens and mixed it with dry grass and eventually the tinder took a spark. Could have been very dissapointing if i could not have found alternative tinder.

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