Keep away! Firing today!

Merrivale, Okehampton and Willsworthy. The three ranges of the Dartmoor Training Area. Last week WITC had the opportunity to skirt round the boundary of Willsworthy range whilst it was closed for live firing, and it gave us the opportunity to recall our encounters with military training on the moor.

The MOD uses roughly 13ooo of the National Parks 94400 hectare total for light exercises, as well as live ammunition training (when the flags are up) and firing with blanks (possible, when the flags are down).

Encounters with the forces when the flags are down, and ranges open, are normally limited to short walking convoys of blue waterproof-clad marines around Drivage Bottom, or TA tents on Ringmoor Down.

WITC has vivid recollections though of stepping over a regiment of Gurkhas lying flat in the peat hollows, linked by telephone wire awaiting some unknown invasion whilst we were letterboxing near Ockerton Court, which was a touch un-nerving.

Or the time when we joined, somewhat reluctantly, the defence of Great Mis Tor hut with a formation of armed, camouflaged troops, who, fortunately didn't stand in our way as we paced over and through their numbers to find our box.

Military training has taken place on Dartmoor since the early 1800s. It was used intensively by the allies during the Second World War, then theres the origins of Ten Tors, the anti-glider posts on Hameldown, the Route formerly known as the Ring Road, RAF Harrowbeer near Yelverton... Dartmoor and the military are close, and although the relationship seems a touch one sided, it appears its going to remain close for years to come.


Jill said…
I know that our soldiers need to train but sometimes they don't stick to days when the 'firing notices' say they will be there. Dartmoor is a National Park and should be used by anyone and everyone (really at any time)

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