On Friday afternoon Leon, Zephyr and I set off for Okehampton for this years Dartmoor in a Day challenge. This year there was the option to do a shorter distance of 30k which would start from the checkpoint at Postbridge and I had convinced my friend Emma that we should do it – after all the photos and promo video from the previous year made it look idyllic with beautiful views and sunshine. (You can read the blog from last year here)
We took the night before preparations seriously and met up in a pub for a few drinks and to plan the next day. Emma’s husband Mike was acting as support crew to us and to Leon who would be leading a walking group again across the 50k route.
It was an early start as Leon needed to register at 6.30 am on Saturday for a 7.30am start – Luckily we could park the campervan at the start the night before so we could just roll out of bed in the morning 🙂
Zephyr coped really well with the hustle and bustle during registration and even met the station cat. We waved the 50k walkers off in sunshine(the runners would start later) and headed off to Postbridge for breakfast.
Emma and I needed to register at 10am for 10.30am start. At 9.55am it started to rain…a lot! We put on all of our waterproofs and Zephyr had his Ruffwear Aira Rain Coat on in a hope that the rain would pass and we would stay dry.
We left Postbridge and set off on the first 10k of the walk (this was my favourite part) this was relatively easy going, hilly but easy under foot. There was a diversion around the river crossing due to the weather which meant that the final section was on the road, but it was quiet and the view from the top of the very long and never ending hill up to Combestone Tor was beautiful!
This was our only checkpoint on the 30k route and we had planned to meet Mike here to collect our sandwiches, have a hot drink and change in to dry clothes. Unfortunately Leon was running behind schedule as we had based the timings on his walking pace and he was with walkers that were at a slower pace. This meant that he didn’t get to Postbridge until 1.5 hours later than we planned and Mike had to wait for him there before he could leave to meet us at Combstone. We contacted Mike who was about 20 minutes away and decided we would wait so we could pick up some food and Emma needed to change her socks. We had crisps, cereal bars, fruit and energy gels in our bags so we munched on them whilst we waited and kept moving to keep warm. When Mike arrived we grabbed our supplies, had a quick bear hug for moral support and set off on the next section.
The final 20k can easily be split in to two sections – the first 10k was lumpy, boggy, uneven, relentless misery. This was not helped by the weather which we experienced during this section. The hailstones were so violent at one stage that Zephyr decided that enough was enough and curled up in a ball in the long grass to wait for it to stop. Every now and again when it was safe to look up without being attacked by the weather there were some nice views and rainbows between the downpours. The best part of this section was watching the line of walkers stagger around like drunk people in front of you for as far as you could see…at least it wasn’t just us struggling on the terrain.
We finally reached the clapper bridge and were greeted by a guide with a bag of Jelly Babies. We were glad to see him and could have hugged him when he said that we just needed to get to the top of the next hill and then we would be on the tram way!
The tram way – as the name suggests is a wide, flat path. What we weren’t expecting was for it to be under water! Due to the weather and the amount of run-off water the final 10k was a walk through a river. By this point our feet were so wet that we had given up trying to keep them dry, so just walked through the middle of it. Trying to pick your way around the edges and keep your feet dry was slow progress and we just wanted to get to the end now. We kept telling ourselves that we were on the home straight and the end was just around the corner……after two hours of telling ourselves this it became reality! We could see civilization, we left the path and crossed a field, passed a farm and then we were on a road! The road led down to the college at Ivybridge which was the finish line.
Mike was there to meet us, with more bear hugs, dry clothes and hot drinks.
Two cups of tea, dry clothes, a finishers t-shirt and buff later and we were ready for fish and chips and wine!
It took Emma, Zeph and I a total of 7.5 hours to complete the 30k route (6 hours 58 minutes walking time) which we were pretty pleased with considering the weather.
I think next year I will happily be support crew and leave the taking part to Leon 🙂