Friday, 1 April 2016

Panthers, Bears & Moor! Part II.

Dear Reader: In Part One of this sorry tale, I forgot to mention that the previous evening Robin played an absolute blinder! He single handedly fought off a column of German Panzer Backpackers, sending them off to a spot only known to him ~ a cleft in the moorland near a Dark, Dark Forest. My guess is that they will never be heard of again. It was only the sound of shrieking tank tracks over rocks just out of sight that alerted us to their imminent arrival. It was a close call, but we managed to stake out our towels only just in time.

This must have played on Robin's mind all night. Let's face it; Robin is essentially a decent sort, and not one to send bright, smiley youths off to their certain deaths in a ghastly dark place. Well, not too often. So, whilst I am some way off, examining the porters' magnificent plumbing arrangements, Robin goes about the place in his haz-suit, ultra-light rubbish picker & bag in hand, collecting up the remnants of the migrating orange groves and tea plantations. We muse the remainder of the morning on the year tea started to be grown in little bags; It had to be before the Dartmoor A-bomb tests.  


Moving on, because that's what you do on a circular backpacking trip, we saunter up the East Dart, to the accompaniment of Larks singing their little hearts out and the wonderful splashy sounds of a rivulet desperate to see what's around the next boulder. It is all rather lovely. 

But let's not get too carried away with this happy-clappy shit. We have a waterfall to cross. And the weather forecast supplied by my companion's Raspberry Pie is not looking good: Robin reads it out to me: "There is horrid weather coming right for you, right here, right now!" Oh great. 

And sure enough, he is bang on. In the lee of a handy boulder, we clamber into our clothing (laced with PFCs and all manner of chemicals that are sure to kill us faster than being run over by a bus) and I start in earnest on my food bag. The thing is bloody enormous; I'm sure it is actually getting bigger and heavier as time wears on. A chap can't face a boggy uphill struggle on a bleak, bleak moor, with pelting rain and bloody larks screaming at him on an empty tummy. It's just not right. And besides, lunch is a good hour or so away over a hillside of knee-wrenching tussocks.

I find my way to the bottom of a pile of Double Deckers, Kit-Kats and a wonderful bag of mixed dried berries. I then start on a large glass of water and notice frosty stares coming my way, (along with heavier gusts of cold wind and splattery rain, becoming heavier) as Robin is obviously not used to my (and Lord Elpus') slack-packing ways.

I'm sure I mutter some sort of apology, realising that the chap has been standing there, stood upright, in his waterproofs and rucsack, as I am absentmindedly staring at a map full of a whole heap of contours that we have to cross...


Robin sends me off across a sea of tussock in the general direction of the pub. Strangely at the mention of the P.U.B. word, my pace and performance improves remarkably. Robin is a man of hidden managerial talents.


There follows a rather torrid tramp in increasingly unpleasant weather, until we fall gratefully into the Two Bridges Hotel. My Real Turmat Goats cheese starter is a triumph. Robin's Mountain House Pate doesn't look too shabby either!

We go with the chef's "Trio of Sausages balanced precariously on a few dollops of Mashed Potato Garnished With Some Finely Chopped Veg and a Moat of Onion Gravy" suggestion. Good honest fare.

After two hours, the rain is still hammering against the windows, so we slip into pots of tea and coffee to delay the ghastliness. Eventually, we know we have to leave. It is still World War III outside, but we struggle manfully into sopping waterproofs and head out. "We may be gone sometime..."


After dicing with death on the B3357 we turn northwards, by now swallowed in mist and rain. Visibility is down to a hundred yards, and through the tunnel of your hood. The tarmac gives way to stony track, which in turn gives way to ankle deep vibrant pools of bog, and generally gloomy places. Robin's Raspberry Pie is in a fully protected casing and the Lord Only Knows what we would do without it. It leads us unerringly over Black Dunghill (there's a name that leaves nothing to the imagination) and the sources of innumerable little rivers - Blackbrook Head springs to mind. This is the bog from hell. Well, that might just be my present take on it on a particularly rubbish day. I'm sure, beneath the summer sunshine and with views all the way to Land's End, that this is a little piece of Paradise. Just not today.

The slog finally stops and I flip Trinnie up in blustery wet winds some 1,500 feet up in the middle of God Knows Where just to the north of Great Mis Tor, amongst the ruins of what once was another pretty little moorland hamlet. The river is Bouncing and sounds like an RB211. 


Eating my way through some pork pies & English mustard, tomato soup and cranberry flapjack in my little piece of heaven amongst the swirling hell outside, I think of my lovely comfortable bed back at home...

To be continued...

posted from Bloggeroid


  1. Did you not realise that rain always follows Robin around? I know this because on every occasion I have walked with him (ie once) it has rained. Them sausages looked nice mind.

    1. Hi David.
      My previous walk with Robin was in April of last year, when we had glorious weather in the Chiltern Hills. On that basis, I took my sunglasses with me for this stravaig.

      I shall take soundings in future from his other walking partners. I *do* seem to recall Robin being rather unlucky on his many trips to the Lakes, but I put that down to the Lakes pretty crap climate... Studies are required. I'll get in touch with Mick & Gayle for some of their Excel skills.

  2. Wot! No umbrella! The man's standards are slipping!

    1. It's an age thing, Ian; Robin forgot to put it on the list.

      Along with the oil filled panel radiator and galoshes.
      Oh. Wait...

  3. Hi Alan, not been on the blog for a while, sorry, very rude of me so I promise to correct that now. Enjoying the Dartmoor tales, especially having never walked though, something I should really correct as its only a couple of hours from home

    1. Hi Andy, You've not missed much Sir - I've had a quiet time. But it is the time of year when the limbs and sinews start to stretch once more.
      I would wait until a settled spell for Dartmoor. It's jolly unpleasant when windy & wet.

  4. Well i have now caught up with your exploits after our week away. Excellent weather you had. Did the porters not set up a warm bath for you sir.
    Never been on that there moor. I hope i can rectify that some day.

    1. I really should have had a serious word with the head Porter. Shocking service really.

  5. I don't remember any poor weather when I strolled with Robin last year. Or rather, limped... Could I blame him for putting the pothole in my way? Nooo, can't have been Robin.

  6. Al, Al, this post has distressed me beyond measure ... to see your poor old frame abused so thoughtlessly.

    The Two Bridges Hotel has rooms, lovely rooms with hot baths, ankle deep carpets, fluffy towels - not to mention attentive young ladies to whom your comfort is their prime concern.

    Now, a walking partner with the merest shred of decency would have gone to the bar, discreetly booked the rooms and returned with two foaming pints of Old Dirigible and said, "Settle yourself down, lad, we'll not be moving on before tomorrow lunchtime".

    Be assured, your Challenge partner will not, under any circumstances, actively pursue needless discomfort. Indeed, perhaps the the merry month of May will allow you a frisson of sweet Schadenfreude when Robin's forlorn face is pressed against the rain-washed window as we dine in style at the Cross in Kingussie.


    1. Phil, dear Phil.

      As I slouched disconsolately away from that wonderful hotel into the pouring rain, I did think of you. I remembered my dreadful predicament in Cannich last May and your masterful organisational skills that resulted in taxi rides, warm beds in hotels, and dinner way past the establishments closing time! That's how to organise a backpacking event...

      The Cross at Kingussie: Memories of warm, sweet smelling laundry in silver serving salvers, a room full of soft carpets and a sumptuous bed. A chef who appreciates and cajoles the finest ingredients to kiss your tongue like angels.

      I'm already there Sir. Do we need to bother with all that unnecessary stumbling, across bogs and rocks to get there?


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