Wild Camping Dartmoor - A very long night 2011/02/17

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.

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.


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