By: Blonde Two
I kind of knew, that the only way to ensure that I would spend a night camping alone on Dartmoor, would be to walk a long way into the middle of it and not leave myself enough time to get off before it was dark.
Which is why, at about six thirty on Tuesday evening, I found myself sitting on the cairn at Hangingstone Hill amidst mysterious blobs of orange chewing gum, wishing that I had followed Blonde One’s sound advice about alternative hobbies. I was tired by then and wanted to stop, but Hangingstone Hill (despite its surprising lack of historic hangings) is one of those places that you don’t want to stay around for very long.
I had already scared myself by attempting a crossing to Cranmere Pool and was feeling a bit shaky. There is nothing like a bit of bog sinking to put a girl off being on her own! Watern Tor was looking rather splendid in the opposite direction; I had never been there, but Blonde One had once told me that it was, ‘lovely’ and she is usually right about these things. So after giving myself a good talking to, I set off to find my campsite.
There is a trend on Dartmoor, to pitch your tent next to a stunning tor and take impressive photos. I obviously wanted to join in with this, but sense prevailed when I got up to Watern Tor and realised how windy it was. I retraced my steps back into the little valley between Hangingstone and Watern, and found a bouncy patch of grass on which to pitch my tent.
I cooked, ate, filled water bottles and generally did ‘campy’ things. I wasn’t lonely; mainly because I was refusing to let my mind acknowledge the reality of what I was doing. Here was I, a Blonde who is genuinely scared of the dark, about to spend a night alone and surrounded by miles of dark on either side.
It started to drizzle at this point, so I zipped up the tent and snuggled down to read. I must have been tired because I dozed, woke up again at about nine, realised that it was about to get dark, and made myself go straight back to sleep in order to make sure that I didn’t panic. This pattern of waking, realisation, then enforced sleep continued until about five when my bladder could hold out no longer and my mind had convinced itself that it was getting light.
So maybe not the bravest of approaches to a solo camp. After all, I didn’t actually see, or even acknowledge the existence of the dark; my torch, although close at hand, was not switched on once; but I had done it! I had spent a night in the middle on Dartmoor on my own.
I still feel a bit dazzled by the whole experience now. Would I do it again? Well if I had to I could, but I am definitely inviting Blonde One along next time!