Last weekend S and I decided to go wild camping in Dartmoor – despite it only being up the road I’ve never been before. We headed up on Friday the 13th (Ohhh spooky!) because this was my last day working my normal 9 – 5 job!
After making such a huge decision, and making a radical change in my I felt like I could really do with a few days away from technology and out of the house – even better, out of Cornwall.
Nothing against technology, my house or Cornwall – I love all those things, but I needed a break in between my normal life, as I transitioned into self-employment. What better way than a weekend in wild camping in Dartmoor?
Wild camping was on my summer bucket list, and I knew I wanted to rough it when we explore Scotland, but we figured it was best that we did a trial run somewhere a bit closer to home.
We feared (*I feared) we might get all the way to the Highlands and realise something terribly wrong with our tent (which we browsed for online for hours until we found What Camping Tent for tent reviews in 2016) or our equipment wasn’t good enough. Although we knew wild camping in Dartmoor couldn’t truly prepare us for a week wild camping in Scotland, our short two-night trip would be the perfect way to take our tent, tactical self defense flashlight, sleeping bags and hiking boots for a worthwhile test run.
Walking in Dartmoor
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Highland 45L Discover Adventure Travel Rucksack from Planet Camping
Situated in the south west of England, right in the very heart of Devon, Dartmoor is a landscape of stunning views, awe-inspiring granite tors, deep wooded valleys with fast flowing rivers, and rugged, wide open spaces.
Firstly, I’d recommend that you have a good pair of walking boots and a decent pair of breathable socks. There is so much uneven ground and bogs when walking the moors in Dartmoor!
My shoes are crafted from waterproof leather and suede with a waterproof membrane for extra weather protection. They are by far, the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. The contoured heel lock holds your foot in place while the cushioned footbed offers all-day comfort.
On the first day, we headed to Fernworthy Dam & Reservoir – a granite-faced concrete dam and lake in Fernworthy Forest, near Chagford. There was parking for £1 when we arrived but there were clear signs instructing fires and camping were strictly prohibited.
We moved on and found somewhere to set up camp, cook some food and catch a few Z’s.
The next day, we woke up and headed towards Princetown to walk around the area, and eventually find somewhere else to pitch the tent. We arrived at the North Hessary Tor and followed the circular track that we found on OS maps, towards to Foggintor Quarry
Parallel to a field of cows, there is a beaten track overlooking Princetown. We followed this path, passed some ponies, until we arrived at Foggintor Quarry. I’d been swooning over pictures on Google, and it lived up to my expectations.
Foggintor Quarry is located on a flat and desolate part of Dartmoor in the heart of a landscape scattered with granite boulders and old industrial ruins. The quarry is an outdoor lake swimming spot suitable for dip, swim and skinny dipping but it was definitely too cold, even for me!
Wild camping in Dartmoor
There were a few spots that were suitable for us to pitch a tent, so that’s exactly what we did.
To go wild camping in Dartmoor, your tent must be lightweight and discreet – basically, don’t use a family tent! You should also pitch your tent at least 100m from a road and it should not be visible from the roadside or residential properties.
It’s also not strictly true that you can legally wild camp in Dartmoor anywhere you want!
Camping for one or two nights on the open land on Dartmoor is perfectly acceptable provided that you choose your spot sensibly and don’t pitch your tent on farmland, on moorland enclosed by walls, on flood plains or on archaeological sites. Please note that camping is not permitted on Cadover, Haytor, Holne Moor, Roborough and Spitchwick commons.
You should also follow four (common sense) rules:
- Take all litter home.
- Guard against risk of fire.
- Ensure you do not pollute streams or rivers.
- Avoid disturbing wildlife particularly during the moorland lambing and bird breeding season, from 1 March to 31 July
To respect these rules, we decided to take our hobo camping stove and trekking kettle from Kelly Kettle. The kettle is lightweight, compact, durable and works in extreme weather, to boil water and cook at the same time!
Using only a handful of fuel such as sticks, Pine cones, Birch bark, dry grass, etc. The kettle boiled within a couple of minutes and was a great way to cook without leaving any mess or having a large fire.
We wrapped up, made a flask of tea and took in the view, snuggled up in sleeping bags that have a comfort rating of -4, and on a pair of self-inflating mats c/o Planet Camping for extra comfort.
We had the most incredible weekend, and well why wouldn’t we, waking up to a view like this:
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