By: Blonde Two

The experts at the Met Office are very clear that, even here in Devon, we will be experiencing some snow this week. Devon snow can sometimes a bit of a rarity but we do see Dartmoor snow more often and lots of people take the opportunity to Get Outside with their families and enjoy various snow related activities such as tobogganing, skiing (yes people occasionally ski on Dartmoor), snow walking and drinking steaming cups of hot chocolate. Dartmoor National Park have a great Winter Guide to Dartmoor We Blondes agree entirely that getting outside in the snow is an exciting occupation and a great way to encourage youngsters to Get Outside (family snow is fun snow!) In order to help you get out in the snow in a manner that is a) safe, b) enjoyable, c) not going to cause a nuisance, we have a few top Dartmoor snow tips for you (other National Parks are available).

If you can, walk to your snow

Driving in the snow is tricky even if your vehicle has the latest in four wheel drive, locking differential or limited slip differential technology (and yes, I do know what all of those are), if you don’t have the relevant experience, think twice about driving somewhere remote that will be difficult to get home from if you get stuck. If you do have the relevant experience, equip your vehicle with blankets, extra clothes, a hot drink and a shovel just in case. Have a look at the OS Maps app or the paper Dartmoor map Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28, there will be snowfall nearer to you that is far easier and safer to get to than the Dartmoor snow.

Take wind chill or feels like factors seriously

It is easy to forget that visiting the snow on Dartmoor will be a lot colder than visiting the snow in lower lying areas. The judges are out on this one but if you consider a loss of 1 degree centigrade per 100m of height and then factor in wind speed and gusts, you can see that standing outside in Torquay isn’t going to let you know how cold it is at Haytor. For National Park and Dartmoor weather reports we would recommend the Met Office’s National Parks weather maps unless you are in Scotland (see B1’s post on MWIS – Mountain Weather Information Service). You can see below that the current Dartmoor forecast for Haytor on Wednesday (always check the weather just before departure) shows a temperature of -3 but a ‘feels like’ temperature of -16. Don’t ignore the ‘feels like’ temperature because that is the temperature to which your body will be reacting when it shows early signs of hypothermia.

Think carefully about children in cold temperatures

Young children are far more likely to develop hypothermia than adults because they have a larger surface area (skin) to weight ratio. When you couple this with the possibilities that children might not be wearing the latest in down jackets and waterproof layers that you are or, if very young, not moving around as much, you can see why it is doubly important to consider how long (if at all) you stay out in extreme temperatures. One particular warning to parents who might be carrying infants in backpacks, I once had a chat on the subject with some Cairngorms rangers who had seen some particularly horrible consequences of infants becoming especially cold whilst being carried by well-meaning parents who were moving and therefore warm.

Take your rubbish home with you

I am preaching to the converted here but, every time we have snow on Dartmoor it is followed by a clean up operation because people have left additional, snow-related rubbish. Tobogganing is great fun and can be done on almost anything but do, please take your tobogganing gear home with you even if it is broken.

Have some family snow fun

I don’t want to end on a negative note, we are Get Outside Champions after all, so here are a few ideas of how you and your family can have fun in the snow on Dartmoor or anywhere else.

  • Snow races – keep you warm and can be hilarious if you are in deep snow
  • Snow dens – work together to get a quick result and take a warm drink (or stove) to enjoy in your new den
  • Snow targets – instead of throwing snow at each other, mark out a target in the snow
  • Snow tracks – send an adult off in front to make ‘secret’ snow tracks for you to follow

Get Outside! Stay Safe! Have Fun!