Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Feeling Wist-ful

The impending heatwave this week inspired whoisthechallenger to return to the moors.  We had a short route planned up to Longaford Tor via Wistmans Wood.  The ground was much firmer under-foot than the last time we were out on Dartmoor.

Deep within Wistmans Wood is a small fenced off area preserved since the mid 60s to allow us all to see how the wood may have looked in the past.  Our recollections of the Wistmans Wood just 15-20 years ago are of fire-beaters stacked at the corners, and very few tracks into the undergrowth.

Wistmans Wood is synonymous with an impenetrable woodland of stunted oak trees and damp moss covered caves and boulders.  But the copse is changing rapidly, with the trees no longer stunted, but growing.  Erosion caused by grazing animals and by the sheer numbers of human visitors are taking their toll on the undergrowth.  Its listing as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a National Nature Reserve, and featuring in so many 'official' guides to Dartmoor have left Wistmans Wood slightly exposed.

Black-a-tor Copse in the West Okement Valley looks set to receive a full fence surround to protect it (at MOD expense).  Piles Copse, the third major area of ancient woodland on the Moor, has been blooming for several years, and certainly lacks the accessibility and attention of it's more Northerly counterparts.

Still its location is stunning, and provides subject material for tons of letterboxes in the region.  Our walk passed  the forest and up to Longaford, returning down the ridge passing Littaford, Little Bee and Crockern Tors, before returning for well earned drink at Two Bridges Hotel, and the car.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Ten Tors 2012

This weekend sees the 52nd annual Ten Tors event on Dartmoor. Here is the latest:

"Pasty stealing fox hampers Ten Tors training with camp attacks"
Cheeky so-and-sos... and a fox.  Story: Thisisplymouth

"From 2012 onwards only teams from the South West of England will be able to take part, due to the high numbers of entrants."

"River conditions are currently acceptable, but higher than average. Moor walking conditions are wet and spongy."
Ten Tor's Secetary comments on Moor conditions: Training notices.  Mmmm... spongy...

"For five decades Ten Tors has remained a National Flagship whose reputation as the foremost endeavour for youth development is firmly established and the Army is committed to its future."
Brigadier Piers Hankinson, Ten Tors Director, says this isn't the last Ten Tors:  Ten Tors brochure

"Leave gates as you find them; if in doubt, close gates on Dartmoor.
Leave no litter; take all tins, bottles and paper home"
- Taken from the Ten Tors code, Aide Memoire for teams: the 'Green Card'.  Its in the rules!!

"The annual Ten Tors Challenge takes place on Saturday and Sunday and will see 2,400 youngsters attempting routes. In all, 1,000 military and civilian personnel will be on duty over the Ten Tors weekend. The armed forces also supply support equipment and vehicles to make the event possible, including two Sea King Mk 4 helicopters from 848 Naval Air Commando Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset."
A potentially crowded weekend in-store: grough.co.uk

"Not all those who wander are lost"
J.R.R. Tolkien

Good luck to all participants!