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I camp ( alone ) on the wilds of DARTMOOR from TIME to TIME

In ANY month of the year and in ALL weather

 I ONCE  spent a New yrs Eve ( alone ) on DARTMOOR in the middle of nowhere and miles   
from anywhere.

2-3 to be precise - I had already walked to get to this spot, remember!

I hitch a ride from the local village. The natives are friendly and country folk/volk are decent enough people, providing you don't look(and/or act!) like a psychopath! I just get dumped wherever I fancy, so I do not have transport with me and no cell-phone. The weather on this particular day was fast closing in as it was already raining when I had arrived 'on-the-moor'     (an olde' Dartmoor Prison term ) by midday and with the wind already beginning to pick up.

I recce the area - survey the terrain, scan the scene, choose a spot and set myself up and begin    to settle in ... 

DARTMOOR - just like it's sister EXMOOR - is an imposing place but very beautiful and majestic in a formidable and challenging sort of way. I had originally planned to stay for a couple of nights to give myself plenty of time to explore the area. By mid afternoon it was already beginning to get dark ( this was December, remember ... ) and I could actually feel the drop in atmospheric pressure as the sky began to darken and the wind began to increase. Thankfully, the temperature remained pretty constant which was quite mild for that time of year on Dartmoor ( hence, no snow!) thank god - but the wind continued to increase.

BY MIDNIGHT however, this had developed into a FULL and MAJOR FORCE 9 GALE and TORRENTIAL RAIN and FLASH FLOODING!

One word - Shit!


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A Tale from Dartmoor

At around ( I never wear a watch ) midnight and into the early hours (It was impossible to sleep with the sheer volume of noise!) my tent eventually gave way and actually broke by the sheer force of the wind and was about to be blown away and across the moor and with yours truly still inside it!

So nothing for it and with no other option available to me - I then had to dismantle my little tent and shelter at like midnight, pitch black, pissing down with rain and a major howling gale forcing me into the ground as the torrential rain beat down. To then head straight towards the nearest rock formation to find some form of shelter and bivouac  until morning ...

I have a nice 1st Edition ( Two Volume Set ) copy of APSLEY CHERRY GARRARD: 

' The Worst Journey In The World ' ( Pub: 1922 ) a memoir of the 1910-13 ' British Antarctic Expedition ' led by the ill fated Capt ROBERT FALCON SCOTT. In a nutshell. ACG and two fellow Comrades had embarked upon a journey to recover eggs of the Emperor Penguin in the dead of an Antarctic winter ( waste of time if you ask me, but still! ) This, which was happening to ME now, was of course NOTHING compared to what they had endured but still, this particular book and THEIR particular endeavour was clearly in mind at that time, for some strange reason ...

Thankfully the TOR ( rocky outcrop ) was close.
I made my way straight towards it. The imposing shadow of the Tor as I approached and the shape against the back drop of the night sky gave an impressive, oppressive and very eerie feeling but at the same time a weird and wonderful and 'welcoming' presence. The cold and constant rain was lashing against my hands and face like pins and niddles and then with a sudden, sharp and hard slap across-the-face from the wind!

As I fumbled and tumbled my way around in the inky black darkness and with very poor visibility, I was literally blown right off my feet twice maybe three or four times, I don't recall?

So I just continued to caress this wet and smooth millennia of stone until I eventually discovered a crevice, shallow - but deep enough! With a sharp intake of breath ... I launched myself into it and then, breathe out ...

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... and then came the morning


WHEN I awoke early the next morning having no idea when and/or for how long I had slept.

I felt stiff and aching as though I'd been ten rounds with Mike Tyson! and damp and soggy and groggy. God only knows how I must have looked as I don't carry a mirror on Dartmoor. The first thing I notice as my eyes began to focus was my hands which were blooded and scratched as no doubt was also my face.

Then - an instant feeling of not being alone!

As I sat myself up and lifted my head and looked towards the entrance to this shallow ( and hard! ) rocky crevice. There were TWO DARTMOOR PONIES looking calmly straight at me and both looking as wet and dishevelled as I did and with an inquisitive and puzzled look as if to say:

' who the hell is this guy and what the hell is he doing up here and in there'?

They must have an acute 'sense of presence' as THEY KNEW I was here and trespassing onto THEIR domain.

Dartmoor Ponies are a VERY tough and VERY clever and VERY resilient breed of beast.

They have to be!

To survive, alone, in such an environment.


Why do you think that they built DARTMOOR PRISON there in 1810?

Attempt to escape from Dartmoor Prison at night, alone and with no resource, you would be either recaptured within hours or dead within days!

So we shared my meagre rations for breakfast of soggy bread and cheese but also crisp 'plastic ration packed' biscuits which they seemed to like. Probably a welcome change to their normal   (boring! ) diet. They continued to follow me around for the next hour or so as I made my way towards one of the many little fast running streams that criss-cross the whole of Dartmoor to drink ( just make sure that the stream is clear and fast flowing which is fine and safe to drink and better tasting than any bottled water. ) the fresh, clear, ice cold water and to wash and tidy myself up ready for my return to 'the world'.

I and the ponies walked further to see what we could salvage of my stuff which was strewn all across the moor from the previous nights 'lively activities'.

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It was a VERY calm and VERY still morning ... so it is true!
'the calm after the storm' ... or to be in the ... 'eye of the storm'

Just like the still calmness of an early bright Christmas morning when you were a kid, covered   in a thick and magical blanket of snow.

I found another two packs of biscuits which I also gave to the ponies as I bid my final farewell. 

To then head due South ... back towards 'civilization'

I did not look back ...

An experience I WILL NEVER/EVER forget nor wish to repeat but also strangely, an experience I WOULD NOT change for the world ...

Of course now, looking back and with hindsight and through experience - when the weather began to change with the on-set of darkness and the drop in air pressure and the wind increasing I should have left the exposed high ground IMMEDIATELY and headed to the lower more sheltered areas ( just as the ponies do!) and maybe left Dartmoor altogether to fight another day.

What is it they say: ' hindsight is a wonderful thing' yeah, right!

... and no!

I did not see/meet ' The Beast of Dartmoor ' and/or ' Bodmin Moor '

Maybe one day!  or night!  who knows?

And that, dear reader ... IS A TRUE STORY.

TOP-TIP: On exposed ground ALWAYS pitch camp close to a Tor and/or rock formation for use as shelter in an emergency.

Footnote: when I had returned to 'civilization'.

The local news was ALL about the flooding and the damage caused by the storm and that it

was on record as one of the worst storms in more than a decade - tell me about it!

NB: I usually buy one of those cheap, disposable cameras to take photographs for my own reference. Yours Truly, having just returned to civilization from a December night spent alone 'on-the-moor' with a welcome carton of fresh orange juice from the local village petrol station.

This was NEW Yrs DAY remember ...
... and all the shops were closed

Inspirational Comments

HAPPY NEW YEAR ... phew!
PAULUK: Aryannationalist.com

THINK! ... Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson and

 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'

DARTMOOR Tourist Guide: http://www.dartmoor.co.uk

DARTMOOR National Park: http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk

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DARTMOOR ADVICE ... make sure that your orienteering - compass - and map reading skills are A1 as it can indeed become dis-orientating. The mist and fog can descend very quickly and catch you unaware so ... 

... trekking/camping  ALONE you make double sure!

USE THE BEST 'Prismatic Compass'
ex-MOD )


I actually use an antique P/C (c1917) that I bought at auction and 

the very same that T.E.Lawrence used to cross Arabia and works as

perfectly and as accurately as when first made and manufactured.


This One!

N- I also wear a 'trustie short' plastic field compass 

around my neck as a back-up by SILVA ... very good

Achilles ... Blog

For 70yrs 

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