The dawn rains brush past, momentarily kissing silnylon. Trinnie's flanks are set perfectly; Bowstring taut and fashioned to slice through wind with barely a downstream murmur. I wake to a hushed symphony of snare drums, turn over, and sink back into my soft pillow to catch the coattails of the last dream.
|RAINDROPS SLIPPING DOWN TRINNIE'S FLANKS. A DAMP START|
I've been lucky in my choice of walking partners. None have been the GetUpAndGetAtEm sort. Indeed one or two have needed to be kicked awake. (Andy...) Lying in a warm, comfortable bed as the light grey slowly turns pastel until sunshine spills over the hill is a glorious start to a backpacking day.
But there are no pastels today, nor any sunshine. During breakfast - which still makes no dent at all in my gigantic food bag - the hushed snares become rattling side drums and curtains of rain sweep down the valley. Trinnie is a commodious girl and packing in the rain is not too tricky. We emerge as the rain eases to make stowing shelters a relatively simple affair.
|PEERING DOWN THE WEST OKEMENT. NOT GREAT. PICTURE SWIPED FROM ROBIN|
We splosh northwards down the Okement Valley, now battered by strengthening gusts. All thoughts of a wonderful ridge walk back to the car are abandoned. It will be pretty nasty up there. We are dealing with boulders and bogs. Then more boulders and more bogs. Pelting rain and heavier pelting rain. Thankfully it's coming from behind. We come across a couple of backpackers heading towards us, straight into the weather. Brave souls.
We nip up the left hand side at Vellake Corner, open and exhilarating for a few short minutes, before heading along towards the Meldon Viaduct, crossing it crab-like in a comical fashion before falling into the railway carriage for hot drinks, pasties and monster portions of cake.
|PASTIES, FOLLOWED BY COFFEE & HUGE CAKE HAPPINESS IN THE DARTMOOR RAILWAY CARRIAGE CAFE|
A three mile trundle in woodland alongside the rails is followed by a delightful ramble up the sheltered East Okement River along the Tarka Trail for a while before zig-zagging up very open hillside in really horrible weather. We gain the safety of a Devon lane and splodge our way back to Belstone. Morosely, we pass a beckoning pub. Inside there are dancing girls, warming log fires, comfortable chairs and undiscovered bright golden ales. There may well be a few hours of idle happiness, padding about in our damp socks on thick-pile carpets. But no. We resolutely head onwards for the car.
|FRANKLY, I'M DISAPPOINTED ROBIN DIDN'T HAVE ONE ONBOARD.|
Robin is certain that his electric mattress pump could easily power this blighter. It may need a new ultralight container. The picture doesn't show the sluicing rain and heavy, heavy gusts of wind. I just thought I would mention this.
Then it's a wonderfully smooth run back home, with Robin studiously ignoring the advice of the Sainted Sturgeon, before finally switching her off.
All in all a rather splendid trip, organised magnificently by Mr Evans. Superb work, Sir! Thank you.
|ROBIN'S SATNAV HAS NICOLA STURGEON TELLING US WHERE TO GO. THERE'S A SURPRISE.|
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