Wednesday 28th October 2020
2:30am, I was woken by the weather; luckily a wind and rain lullaby soon had me back to sleep but not before I wondered how well the X-Mid would cope with an exposed Dartmoor night. By the time I woke, the rain had eased but the wind was still blowing. After a favourite breakfast of raspberry granola that had cold soaked overnight, and having checked none of my gear was wetter than it was the night before, I used the wind to dry out my groundsheet and tent before heading back into Holne. I passed the tree at the top of the post the day before and felt it a good picture to head this post. Like many trees on Dartmoor this one looked like it has had a real fight against the elements to establish it’s place in the environment and again, like many trees it is covered in a mantle of moss.
Walking back down into Holne I rejoined the Two Moors Way and passed the Church House Inn which due to the COVID-19 pandemic was closed but just before it there’s a community shop and tea room that would be opening that morning. I continued on my original route and soon find my way back onto footpaths and into Holne Wood, which sits on the walk down into the Dart Valley.
Given I had been walking over open moorland with what few trees have managed to survive being fairly stunted and twisted, descending into the Dart Valley I walked amongst the most amazing autumnal deciduous trees. The path here is fairly steep and when I got to the bottom I chose to take another detour and followed the River Dart upstream, one of my bucket-list locations and with my schedule already shot to pieces I am no longer thinking about the destination. After two nights I’ve shifted down a few gears, I am relaxed and thinking about nothing more than the moment.
Like the other rivers I have seen so far, the Dart was pretty full but wider that the others. The noise was like a waterfall as the water tumbled at speed over the rocks. As I walked along the riverside path I was aware of the river but for a while I was well and truly in lost the woods.At this point I was tempted to head towards Dartmeet but I was really valuing the time I had to myself but I wanted to follow the path a little further.By now it was mid morning so I planned to stop for a break and a snack when I next met the river.Ahead of me I could see the path starting to ascend and the river coming back into view so I decided to find a spot to take a break.
It was time to make the call regarding the rest of the week. I was now at least half a day behind which meant upping my pace towards Oakhampton so I can get home as planned. As I stated in an earlier post, it’s the journey that is important so I decided to stay chilled and not focus on catching up. Instead I used this place and this moment as my destination. Decision made. It was time to turn around and retrace most of my steps and head back to Ivybridge with one, maybe two stops on the way.Retracing my steps back up the side of the valley I returned to Holne and found the shop and tea room are open so I decided to stop for a coffee and maybe a snack.
For anyone walking in the area, Tom and Tina’s Tea Room is a MUST. Tina and a colleague run the cafe and Tom cooks all the food and makes the cakes. “Coffee and a Cake” turned into a large pot of tea, homemade cottage pie with Tom’s take on a cross between a Brownie and Millionaire’s Shortbread washed down with a cold drink. Tom and Tina are great hosts, they took the cafe over in July of this year and they have such great ideas using as many local ingredients as possible. When I arrived the cafe was really busy and shortly after I arrived, every table was full. It was really great to find somewhere that is so popular. By the time I left, it is quieter and Tom told me of their plans for 2021. I will be back.
On leaving the Tea Room I followe my footsteps out of Holne. A steady rain is now falling and I am thankful for my waterproofs. The colours and smells seem so much more real as I walk in the rain.
On leaving the Tea Room I followed my footsteps out of Holne. A steady rain was falling (yes, really, more rain!) and I was yet again thankful for my waterproofs. The colours and smells seem so much more real as I walk in the rain.As I pass through Scorriton the rain is really coming down but just as I get to the now defunct phone box, I see a concrete bus shelter hidden by ivy. Whilst I love the rain, the chance to shelter from the relentless downpour is really welcome.Once the rain had stopped I headed back out of Scorriton and followed the wide byway back to the River Mardle. Given the steep ascent up from the river to the top of Huntingdon Hill I was in two minds as to where to camp. Once I crossed the river I was back in Wild Camping territory, so at 3:00pm I was thinking perhaps a camp by the river would be the best spot. I scouted several likely spots but I decided to start the ascent and find somewhere either on the way up or at the top.The weather was now is starting to clear, and when I estimate I am half way up the hill I start looking for a suitable spot to pitch for the night. Whilst the clouds were clearing, it was getting windy with more clouds looming in the distance. A checking of the forecast told me it was going to be a very wet and windy night.Given the wind and weather as I pitched, I did not get a chance to get any pictures. I also double guyed the windward side of my tent to provide a bit more stability and back-pegged the guy lines on the windward side.Having had a fantastic lunch I did not need to cook but the nightly M&M ration was most welcome as I watched a movie. The wind was definitely getting up , so yet another test for the X-mid.
For day 4, see here.