By: Blonde Two
During a Dartmoor summer, if you go to the Postbridge car park (pop into the Visitor Centre and buy one of our books while you are there) you will see lots and lots of happy people. These people will be dressed in walking clothing, wearing stout boots and carrying rucksacks. They will head down to the (rather fabulous) bridge and maybe into Bellever Forest, but the majority of them won’t wander more than half an hour or so from the road.
Now for those of us who love the solitude of the more remote parts of Dartmoor, this may well be a good thing. Solitude and hordes (even happy ones) are not comfortable bed-fellows. It does however seem a shame that so many lovely places, only a couple of hours from the road remain unvisited and share their loveliness with but a few of us.
I have been thinking about why this might be:
Lack of knowledge? It is possible that people don’t know how beautiful the East Dart is upstream from Postbridge, that the views from Higher White Tor are stunning or that you can walk up to Fernworthy Forest and follow a fence nearly all of the way.
It might be a worry about physical capability. Most of Dartmoor is not flat, some of its ‘paths’ don’t exist and it is an ‘unknown’ landscape for many people. Do events with names like ‘The Haytor Heller’ and ‘The Dartmoor Devil’ make Dartmoor seem inaccessible to the ordinary human being?
Or maybe it is the worry of getting lost. This is a realistic concern and ‘lost’ people are regularly picked up by Dartmoor’s four Search and Rescue Teams; but lots of people do make it back to lots of car parks on their own.
There is a simple answer to all of the above problems: Buy yourself a copy of OL28 (that is the 1:25,000 scale Ordnance Survey map of Dartmoor), spend some time looking at it. OL28 will show you where the big hills are if you are worrying about walking up them, it will show you a track that you can follow and it will help you to work out where you are.
Maybe most importantly, OL28 (if you look at it closely) will give you ideas, it will inspire you just as it does us. You will look and you will start to ask questions that only an exploration can answer:
“Is ‘Roundy Park’ actually round?”
“What exactly are the ‘Chys’ near Powdermills?”
“Are there bees in the East Dart’s ‘Beehive Hut’?”
Now as it happens, this summer we Two Blondes are offering some navigation workshops in conjunction with Dartmoor National Park Authority. If you want to learn how to better translate your copy of OL28 and use it in conjunction with a compass, then I recommend you come along. More information here http://bit.ly/27MSJq7
Oh yes, and have I mentioned that we are Ordnance Survey Get Outside Champions? Believe me, getting outside is loads more fun with a map in your hand!