A month or so back, the good folk of Eglwyswrw, a small village in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales famous for not managing to attract more than a single vowel to its name and just about as far from civilisation that you can get, were disappointed when it didn't rain after 85 days of raining every single day. They had been hoping to beat the record held by some god-forsaken place in Scotland in 1923.
I can safely say that those poor bastards are utterly barking mad. Back in our very real and very damp world, it has rained continuously for fifteen solid hours. Not a single break. No glimmer of sunshine. Bloody ghastly. But that's the Welsh for you.
I wake just after one in the morning for a call of nature to the Sound of Silence, and soft Moonlight Shadows inside Trinnie. As I stand outside admiring the wildness all about me, I have never been more glad to see my own Moon Shadow. (Just how many title tracks can I cram into this paragraph?) When we finally get around to packing up this morning, the Mad World of the previous maelstrom is thankfully a distant memory. (Okay. That's the very last one.) Just damp socks and anoraks drying in the sunshine as momentos.
|NOT TOO SHABBY A SPOT. ROBIN ATTEMPTS TO SAW OFF THE TOE OF HIS RIGHT BOOT. NO. I DON'T KNOW WHY.|
Oddly, as I hoist the bag onto my ageing frame, it doesn't feel like my spine is going to bleed; Possibly due to last night's gargantuan feast of pork pies...
|LOOKING BACK DOWN TO THE INFANT RIVER NILE - OUR SAFE HAVEN LAST NIGHT|
In warming sunshine, we stroll up and out of our valley, watched silently by acidic sheep. The one on the right is Enoch.
|ENOCH AND THE WATCHERS|
The bogs today actually add interest to the walk. You can't go about staring at the granite tors all day; They only exist to steal your attention and mock, as you stumble blindly into another morass.
|THE GUARDIAN TORS OVERSEEING THEIR PURIFYING BOGS|
After Cocks Hill, we slop over to White Barrow where we engage in polite conversation with a few instructors awaiting the arrival of their Ten Tors Teams. The Moor is alive with brightly attired and wonderfully cheery youths - amazingly so, as they have just clambered up here carrying bags that 2 PARA would blanch at.
|A VIEW OF WHAT'S TO COME. BUT WILL IT GO?|
But we have a delightful amble down hill, cutting across the hillside and all the way down to the River Tavy.
Lunch is taken on granite boulders set amongst dappled shade. It's all quite wonderful. But somewhere inside my head is that little niggling voice letting me know, somewhat spitefully, that it's all uphill from here. And in the hot sunshine. Carrying that blasted house on my back that now is no lighter at all! Better eat the heavy stuff. In the not too far away distance, I hear the familiar roar of a platoon of Hippopotami.
|AN ANCIENT LIFE-FORM AND A TREE.|
To be fair, the stroll up the ridge is quite delightful with broadening views to the left and right - again, those distracting views that lure the unwary into yet more gloop.
|LOOKING EAST UP THE AMICOMBE AND BLACK RIDGE BROOKS|
In the sunshine, navigation's a breeze today; Just follow that ridge.
|WHAT YOU CANNOT SEE IS ROBIN'S HEART, THUMPING NEARLY OUT OF HIS CHEST. THE ARGIE FLAG HAS BEEN CUT DOWN.|
I love this next picture. It sums Dartmoor up for me, on a good day.
We have lunch, lazing in the sunshine and out of the cold wind. Socks airing on poles. Almost snoozing. In fact, if Lord Elpus had been in tow, he would declare an Official Snooze. Sadly, he is in Middleton in Teesdale ordering a Minge Cobbler. Miss Whiplash snorts her Earl Grey across the tea room.
|LOOKING BACK TO GREAT LINKS TOR,. WE STUDIOUSLY IGNORE ITS CHARMS & BYPASS IT TO COLLECT THE TRAM WAY.|
We shall draw a veil over the slog up from the ruin to Kitty Tor. You need legs eight feet long to negotiate the chasms and bottomless pools with any success. But Dartmoor rewards the brave with a snap of very pretty Dartmoor Ponies. Say "Aah!"
|RACE HORSES PUT OUT FOR RETIREMENT, UP TO THEIR KNEES IN TUSSOCK & BOG.|
A knee wrenching clamber down through tussocks and boulders to the West Okement River - delightfully docile today.
|THE HEADWATERS OF THE GREAT GREY-GREEN, GREASY LIMPOPO RIVER, ALL SET ABOUT WITH FEVER TREES.|
We nip across Sandy Ford, but for the life of me I don't spot any sand. Robin points out a delightful spot large enough for a few shelters. Unilaterally, I declare that this is quite far enough for today. Robin protests, but thankfully not too strongly. I spend half an hour rigging up the electric fence to deter the predators, using Robin's Sleep Mat Inflator's Generator for a power source. You can't be too careful.
|IF YOU LOOK CAREFULLY YOU CAN SEE ZULUS ALONG THE ENTIRE HORIZON. FARRZANDS OF 'EM!|
To be continued...
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