Introducing the County Castle Caper #CountyCastleCaper

I love castles and, for quite a while now, I have day-dreamed about the impossible challenge of walking to at least one in every county in United Kingdom…. in a continuous loop…..

It is clearly ridiculous but it kept my inner mind amused at a time when I started having to accept that, thanks to the temperature requirements of my tri-weekly injection for my Multiple Sclerosis, I would not be able to undertake anything longer than an overnight camp anymore.

I am not sure what I expected when I told Sarah (@PascallSarah) about it…. I certainly did not expect her to say ‘let’s do it’….. with those three words the ‘County Castle Caper’ went from dream to reality.

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Review of Target Dry Element Jacket

Preparing to face a wet day on Dartmoor

Six months. That is how long it has taken to review the Target Dry Element Jacket I was sent. Much longer than usual (and I am sure much longer than Target Dry would have hoped!) Why did it take so long?

Firstly the lack of rain over the late summer and early autumn months made it fairly tricky to test a waterproof jacket (although sadly the recent rains and the resulting flooding has more than made up for it).

Secondly I hit review fatigue – reviews are tricky and take a surprising amount of time and with three products to review at the same time I struggled (so much so in fact that I am not intending to review anything in 2016!).

Thirdly I was slightly intimidated by Matt (hillplodder) with his excellent detailed (and timely) review of the Element Jacket. Show off.

Finally (and most poignantly) I was stuck pondering whether there is such a thing as a perfect waterproof jacket – a jacket that can hold at bay hours of torrential rain whilst removing every drop of moisture your body excretes without costing the earth.

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Snow ‘fun’ from Princetown, Dartmoor

Matt and Paul trying to find shelter on Rundlestone Tor

.. continued from ‘Exploring the Tors and antiquities of Walkhampton Common’

With snow falling outside, we (Matt, Paul, Rich and Neil) gathered around a table in the warm Plume of Feathers pub in Princetown, stuffed from a hearty dinner and with Dartmoor Brewery ales in hand, to discuss the following day. The original plan, before snow was forecast, was to walk around Fenworthy forest and reservoir, bagging a good yield of tors in the process, however, with more snow forecast, we decided driving was not an option and planned an alternative, more local, route instead.

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Review of the Grisport Dartmoor Hiking Shoes

Dartmoor shoe testing in Brecon Beacons

Like most outdoor bloggers, I sometimes get offered products to review. Often I turn the offers down, usually when the product in question is not something I would use (like the one season sleeping bag with arms and legs!) or I do not think that much of the brand. Just occasionally however the offer really resonates and it seems like destiny! This was the case back in July when a representative for Grisport got in touch on Twitter asking if I wanted to review something from their range. It did not take long to spot ‘Dartmoor’ on their website…. a pair of ‘Dartmoor’ shoes just before I move to Dartmoor?!! It was surely meant to be!

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Exploring the roof top of Devon (Tor and ‘365’ bagging) and a Halloween wild camp on Rowtor

Unnamed outcrop of East Mill Tor, Dartmoor

With a surprisingly promising weather forecast, we (myself and @PascallSarah@moorlandwalker decided to spend the day doing diy) decided to take advantage of a mild autumnal day and headed to the car park above Cullever Steps with the intention of exploring the rooftop of Devon – the highest point of Devon (and indeed the south of England).

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Shilstone and the tors of North Teign River valley, Dartmoor

Tolmen Stone, North Teign, Dartmoor

It is always nice to get a tor ‘bagged’ (the act of registering your visit to a tor on Social Hiking) on a walk before you have even had a chance to get out of breath. The tor in question, Shilstone Tor, could probably be classified as a ‘hillplodder tor’ (in other words, you could probably ‘bag it’ within the site’s margin of error without even getting out of the car) and it was immediately above the small layby Paul and I parked in ready to begin the day’s walk.

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Exploring the Tors and antiquities of Walkhampton Common

Black Tor falls and evidence of the stamping mill

Tor bagging, the act of visiting (and ideally sitting on) hunks of granite (or other rock) on Dartmoor, was, it turns out, just the start. Inspired by the plethora of Dartmoor themed books I received at Christmas (not too mention the ones I bought myself), I decided to make my next hike a little special and mix Tor bagging with visiting other historical curiosities. The hike in question, back in January, not only finished off the last few publicly accessible Tors on my list on Walkhampton Common, but proved to be a major turning point in how I experience and enjoy Dartmoor.

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Revisiting the waterfalls of Afon Mellte and Afon Nedd Fechan in Brecon Beacons

Warming up with a coffee after swimming in Sgwd Gwladus's plunge pool

With my move to Dartmoor happening in a few weeks time, it seemed sensible to take advantage of temporarily living in Bristol to pop into Wales for a hike. On Saturday, Sarah (@PascallSarah) and I left a foggy Bristol (the view was non existent from the old Severn bridge) heading towards the surprising near Brecon Beacons to walk one of my favourite walks in ‘waterfall country’.

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Review of Sunix Ultra-Bright 120 Head Torch

Sunix Ultra-Bright 120 Lumens

Curiosity got the better of me when an email landed in my inbox asking if I wanted to review a new head-torch – the Sunix Ultra-Bright 120 Lumens (sold by XC Source in the UK). Since I reviewed it back in 2011, the Petzl Tikkina 2 has been my head-torch of choice, but with an impressive list of bells and whistles for a similar price tag the Sunix sounded interesting.

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