By: Blonde Two
‘Look at this lovely wilderness’ were not the words either Blonde One or I were muttering as we struggled up over the tussock-hiding, ankle-threatening, hole-concealing purple moor grass (it is only purple in the summer and close up) that lies between the Ted Hughes Memorial Stone and the Cranmere Pool letterbox on Dartmoor. If you have never experienced this element of Dartmoor then the picture below will look idyllic to you. If you have, then we probably have your sympathies and you will understand why my inner thighs and buttocks are aching even 6 days later.
The underfoot situation wasn’t helped by the overhead situation whereby the predicted ‘showers’ were doing a very good impression of ‘deluges’. I have to confess to uttering, more than once, the words, ‘Arse end of nowhere.‘ and not really bothering to do it under my breath.
It is all a bit of a blur now (definitely type 2 fun) but my map skills told us the terrain was so tricky we were only moving at 2km an hour. This meant that the tussock-balancing section of our 18km walk took up a fair proportion of the time allotted to the whole thing (we were out for 8 hours). If you look closely at the map snippet from OS Maps below you can see that most of the ‘spiky things’ are blue instead of green. As blue generally means water on a map, you can guess what was underneath the concealing mat of summer grass! East Dart Head does, of course, feature in our children’s book ‘Dart the River‘.
Copyright Ordnance Survey 2017
I think, after crouching with flasks, letter box books and postcards under our flapping bothy bag right next to the letterbox, we both agreed that we wouldn’t be visiting Cranmere Pool again and that if anyone else wanted to go there, they would have to find their own way because we wouldn’t be taking them.
It wasn’t just that dreaded combination of terrain and rain that Dartmoor does so well! It was the navigation. After a while I had to leave the compass work to Blonde One because I needed both my walking poles but I am very proud of both of us because, on viewing our map traces later, we had walked on pretty much straight bearings both from and to Cranmere Pool (different routes). There was little to fix a bearing on and to look at the compass instead of the floor would have resulted in, at best, a slow descent into the peat (which I did accomplish once) and at worst a broken ankle. We chose such useful landmarks as: ‘that little pimple’, ‘that light tufty thing’ and ‘that thing in the foreground that you can’t really see’ to walk towards. Luckily we both speak Blonde and understood exactly where the pimples, tufty things and things you couldn’t see were!
If you choose to visit Cranmere Pool (and you should because, despite the rain, both above and below, it was an amazing sight to see) we would recommend going with a friend you don’t mind swearing in front of, telling someone else where you are going and making sure you are really good at using your map and compass before hand. Oh yes, it will rain and it will be boggy even in the summer!
Get Outside – but do it safely!