By: Blonde Two
On Saturday night, the Two Blondes found themselves in the middle of an exciting bit of investigation and law enforcement. We had found a man for the night (see previous blog post on why we needed one http://wp.me/p2OiIR-oH) – we shall call him “Blackbeard” – and the three of us had decided that the youngsters were ready for a bit of independent time at the campsite. This meant that we could treat ourselves to a meal up at the Forest Inn (lovely meal, unusual carpet).
As we had all had a long walk on a hot, sweaty day and we were all craving water rather than beer (strange what Dartmoor can do to you), we elected to drive up the road. At Hexworthy Bridge it was evident that a group were setting up camp on the lovely little patch of grass by the river. You are going to have to forgive me from hereon in for sounding officious and indignant but I do have tendencies in that direction, I inherited them from my mum who writes a most excellent indignant letter. If it had been a little two person tent, I think we might have all ignored it but this was a huge six person tent, five cars, barbecue and pop-up tent affair which filled most of the area.
We went to the pub, had our meal, drank pints of water (there is photographic evidence of this) but it became clear that Blackbeard was so bothered by the Hexworthy invasion that he was going to have to stop and say something on the way back down. He got out of the car while Blonde One and I indicated our support by winding down the windows so that we could listen – so brave! To be fair, I think the group’s presence was more down to a misunderstanding of the concept of wild camping than any lack of care, they listened while Blackbeard quoted the “100 metres from road or houses” by-law at them and while he told them that there was a campsite up the road and that he thought they would be moved on before the end of the night. Once they worked out that he wasn’t a Dartmoor Ranger, they even offered him a beer.
We went back to the campsite, failed to find a contact number for a ranger but managed to get enough data access to post a comment on Twitter. Then something really weird happened – I am sure that it was nothing to do with us or silly campers but a helicopter appeared, hovered around the general area for a minute or two and then flew off. Now there have been a couple of times in my life when I have been really pleased to see helicopters but you can guarantee that this one would have put the wind up the naughty campers a bit.
Sure enough, when Blackbeard donned his “ninja” outfit later on and went down to investigate, the group had moved to the campsite. He returned early the next morning and picked up their litter (including dog mess in a bag) and left it on their cars with a polite note for each one.
The fact that you are allowed to wild camp on Dartmoor is becoming more well known – in many ways thanks to social media. How exactly you are supposed to do it is maybe something that we all need to think about publicising more.