First camp and swim of the year: Swelltor and Wellsfoot Island

Starting a new year is always a good opportunity to reflect on the previous year and make plans for the next. Last year certainly had some highlights, what with moving into our new house and getting married, but there was less outdoor adventure than I would prefer. This year, the plan is to get out and do more camping and swimming.

For January, we nearly failed at the first hurdle. Sarah had been nursing an injured foot which is stopping her running and the weather forecast for the only day in the entire month we could get out for a wild camp was looking atrocious – cold temperatures and heavy rain all afternoon and evening. In the end, we decided on an easy to access location on Dartmoor after a pub lunch allowing us to sulk damp in the tent with snacks rather than needing to cook anything on the stove in the rain.

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A bivi on Pew Tor, Dartmoor

Bivi on Pew Tor

Pew Tor is just south west of Merrivale on the western edge of Dartmoor National Park. I first visited it in 2011 at the end of a walk around some of the Western Tors (a route borrowed almost entirely from Backpackingbongos) and it was my favourite Tor of the day, with fantastic views south down the valley to Yelverton and Plymouth, east to Tavistock and beyond, and north across to the higher Great Staple Tor and Great Mis Tor. In my post from the walk, I describe Pew Tor as “like a ruined castle with lush grassy floors” and suggested it would make a great place to camp. As it happens Paul, who had joined myself and friends Neil and Kate for a weekend on Dartmoor, agreed and it was to be our ‘hotel’ for a night.

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Route planning for a trip to Dartmoor this weekend

As a kid I used to attend an annual cadet camp in Devon as a cadet leader (the main influence on my present day outdoor interests). The aim of the week was to get the younger kids through part of their Duke of Edinburgh, so there were class room based map exercises, an accompanied hike and camp on Exmoor, a night military navigation exercise (the highlight – think flares, finding contacts on dunes and ex-army personnel ‘hunting’ you!) and the main DofE hike and camp (usually along the coast). During the main walk the cadet leaders, who already had their DofE awards, had to be kept busy, so we usually ended up on Dartmoor. I have fond memories of bogs, magnetic rocks upsetting the compasses and getting lost in the fog (I knew where we were but no one listened!) – all these memories came flooding back yesterday after spending a few happy hours in the local pub with my Dartmoor OS map (OL28) planning some routes for this weekend.

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Review of Gweryd Lakes Campsite

Gweryd Lakes is set in the middle of The Clywdian Hills – an Area of Outstanding Natural, and is perfect for walkers doing Offa’s Dyke (splitting up the section between Bodfari and Llangollen nicely, with easy access via bridleways / footpaths off Offa’s Dyke both from the North and the South).

Clywdian Hills is predominately for fishing, with four lakes filled with carp – however it’s wonderful picturesque and remote location makes it a tranquil stop-off point if you are walking Offa’s Dyke.

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Review of Priory Mill Farm Campsite, Brecon

It is not often that things live up to their marketing spiel, but actually the Priory Mill Farm campsite comes pretty damn close.

Situated just outside the town of Brecon, Powys, just North of the Brecon Beacons, Priory Mill Farm is on the banks of the river Honddu. We stayed mid-week in March 2010 (we were unsurprisingly the only ones there!) for two nights at a cost of £7 per person per night plus £1 per night for the dog.
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Camping and walking Offa’s Dyke

Now we are under a month away, it is time to work through how we are breaking up the route, and where we will be staying.

This post details our plan, which keeps most days around fifteen miles and ensures that every night we have somewhere confirmed to sleep (hopefully with warm showers!).  We are walking Offa’s Dyke North to South and in most cases we will be staying on campsites, with a few exceptions, that are dog friendly and easy to access from Offa’s Dyke. Continue reading “Camping and walking Offa’s Dyke”

Help needed in choosing a hiking / backpacking tent

What backpacking tent to choice is proving confusing

I don’t really know very much about tents – I have owned three over the years, but they were all pretty much impulse buys.

I know even less about backpacking / hiking / expedition tents – I am assuming that being light and compact is important, but beyond that I haven’t got a clue!

Hopefully that is where you come in! This is an open invitation for suggestions and recommendations on what hiking tent I should get for Offa’s Dyke.

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Mena Caravan & Camping Park – Bodmin, Cornwall

Mena Caravan & Camping Park – Bodmin, Cornwall

Mena Caravan & Camping Park is a lovely, very friendly, spacious and secluded camp site situated on a hill just to the South West of Bodmin, Cornwall.

I was quite lazy when choosing this camp site – I basically did a Google search of camp sites near Bodmin and picked one of the top results – and I was not disappointed!

Best points: friendly, spacious, great for dogs & local meat
Bad points: none (honest, I really can’t think of any!)

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