Feeling suitable reinvigorated from the cider and scampi at the aptly named The Tors pub after my hellish descent to Ivy Tor (part 4), I retreated to Fox Tor Café in Princetown to plan my next move (and charge my phone!). I wanted a pub dinner for my last night on the moor, and the Dartmoor Inn in Merrivale seemed an obvious choice. Previously, the inn’s owners have been happy for customers to leave cars in their car park overnight and I quite fancied a night on Great Mis Tor, which towers over the pub. As I had a few hours to kill, I would also have time to finally track down the illusive Prowtytown Rocks, accessible from a car park just down the road from the pub. First though, I had more immediate concerns… I stank. It is perhaps testament to the quality and professionalism of the staff at the Fox Tor Café that no one had mentioned it, but I was definitely omitting an odour. Before dinner at the pub, I needed a bath.
It has might have been four months since the last installment of my trip report of a week on Dartmoor (and six months since the actual trip!), but some of the excitement, joy and pleasure from the trip still remains despite the subsequent months of ‘indoor time’ (albeit topped up with two subsequent weekends on Dartmoor). In the last part, Paul and I had returned to the Fox Tor café for refreshments after an enjoyable wild camp on Lower Hartor Tor…
I sat on a bench outside the Fox Tor Café enjoying the last of my coffee in the morning sunshine. Breakfast had been eaten and it was almost time to set off with Paul (@paulgbuck) on a ‘bagging’ odyssey. The planned route was my first concoction since I decided to copy Paul and visit (or ‘bag’) every single Tor and notable rock (and a few hills) in Dartmoor National Park – 425 at the last count. I had taken my OS map, drawn on (in pencil) each one to the east and south of Princetown, then played join the dots – the result was a 20 mile route with 19 of them to ‘bag’ (as an aside, Paul has written a brilliant article for Active Dartmoor on The Art of Tor Bagging)
I always think Northamptonshire gets forgotten when it comes to outdoor activities. For the first few years I subscribed to Countryfile Magazine I religiously collected, ordered and stored the ten route cards included each month – whilst almost every part of the country was covered, there was not a single route in Northamptonshire!
Whilst Northamptonshire may not have any mountains (or indeed any hills of note), moors or other ‘exciting’ landscapes, I find it a really nice place to walk – peaceful farmland, picturesque villages, hidden woodlands (and more obvious woodland like Salcey Forest just around the corner from me), stately homes, canals and rivers. And it is quiet – you pretty much have the footpaths to yourself once you outside the dog walking perimeter of the villages.
So it was with some excitement that I spotted ‘Northamptonshire’ mentioned in a Google+ post in my outdoor circle – and not just a passing mention… Daniel Martin (his Google+ profile), an extreme athlete with plans to become the first man in history to swim the Atlantic, was describing a stretch of the River Nene near Tansor, Northamptonshire as his favourite place to swim in the world! (you can view the post on Daniel’s site – you will need to scroll down a bit).
It was only last year that I discovered the joys of wild swimming (or in my case wild bobbing about) – after accidentally choosing a hike in Brecon Beacons that was part of Trail Magazine’s series on wild swimming hikes, followed the following day by a dip in a waterfall plunge pool on this brilliant waterfall walk in south Brecon Beacons. I have never felt more alive or in touch with the outdoors than when I was sitting on the bank drying out with my whole body (literally) buzzing from the experience. This year trips have been few and far between, although I did introduce my partner’s daughter to wild swimming in the Tavy Cleeve on Dartmoor, so discovering there is an excellent swimming spot somewhere just down the road from me means I can have the chance to go for a dip more often. Although he may have been joking, Daniel has invited me to join him for a swim one day – apparently it is more beautiful the colder it gets!!
And it is great to see Northamptonshire get some recognition for outdoor activities.
You can read more about Daniel, his expeditions and his experiences outdoors, on his website, and you can follow him on Google Plus and Twitter (he is using the hashtag #MyFaveSwims for the series on his favourite swimming spots).
Tempted to go hiking in Northamptonshire? Check out the Northamptonshire Round – a route around Northamptonshire including some of the best parts created by a bunch of hikers keen to show off what Northamptonshire has to offer. There are also loads of resources on Google.
(Many thanks to Daniel Martin for permission to use his photos)
I love waterfalls. There is something so soothing and peaceful about the constant motion of water partnered with the natural splendour of water surging downwards. I also love forests. My ‘happy place’ would almost certainly be a waterfall in a forest (although I am yet to find a real world location that suits), so I was very excited when, back in May, I came across this waterfall walk on Surfnslide featuring several spectacular waterfalls. I added it to my ever-growing collection of routes in Evernote*, so I had it handy when I was planning this Brecon Beacons trip.
Thanks largely to one too many of the aptly named ‘Hikers Ruin’ I had consumed the night before and the fantastic breakfast my hosts had produced, day 2 was quite a late start! I wanted to head out onto the part of the Brecon Beacons just west of A470 but the lingering headache was making it hard to concentrate on the map, so in the end I download a free route on ViewRanger published by Trail Magazine.