Ten Tors Training – Walk 5

The teams managed to avoid the worst of Storm Ciara as they traversed the Southern moor last weekend. Our 35-mile team were introduced to some of the more desolate terrain Dartmoor has to offer; although they will not visit these areas on the actual event, they bring their own challenges in being very demanding underfoot (we love tussocks…) and navigation can be difficult in a seemingly featureless landscape.

After starting in bright sunshine at Harford Moor Gate, the students quickly climbed up to Butterdon Hill and Ugborough Beacon which offer fantastic views over South Devon. Primarily walking on much of the former Redlake Railway (built to transport china clay off the moor), the team swiftly picked up checkpoints at Piles Hill, Three Barrows and Western Wittaburrow before joining the Two Moors Way and steeply descending to Huntingdon Clapper. The whole area around the River Avon is typically boggy and we were not disappointed as boots, gaiters and legs continued to disappear in swathes of treacherous black mud. With time pressing on and the wind beginning to strengthen, the team started its final ascent of the day by way of Huntingdon Warren, Hickaton Hill, Pupers Rock and, eventually, Ryder’s – the highest point of the Southern moor. A comfortable 3km descent down to our extraction point at Combestone Tor was a gentle end to a very rewarding 20km walk that offered a different set of challenges to those faced before; whereas a focus on navigation had hitherto been the primary concern, this route was designed to improve pace/stamina. Apart from the increasingly bitter wind, we were lucky in remaining dry all day and having good visibility.

After the February half term, there is only one more opportunity for students to secure selection for the final 35-mile team before a final decision is made. The enthusiasm, determination and resilience demonstrated so far has been fantastic; keep it up!