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Monday, November 21, 2016

Dartmoor Mini Adventure Day 1 - Beating Storm Angus! November 2016

With a couple of days off work and with the Plumbers in refitting the bathroom, I thought it may be a good idea to get out of the way for a few days.

May rough plan was to head for Dartmoor which is around two to three hours away and take in some stunning scenery on the way.

I had spent some time studying Google Maps and by using the Satellite option identified some places where I could wild camp.

Wild camping on Dartmoor is the only place in the whole of England where you can legally get away with it.  As long as you obey basic rules and camp only where permitted, as shown on the Official Government Dartmoor map.

I also had a back up plan that if that all went horribly wrong there was a camp site at Princetown, at Dartmoor's heart that I could stay at.

Wanting and early start, but not getting one I eventually got away at 1000hrs, at least I would miss all the traffic through Bournemouth so as they say "Every Cloud" etc.....

Here is the bike all packed and ready to go. You may notice the addition of the Givi Top Box which I fitted. I took the mounting plate off of the Varadero, made some brackets up to fit onto the all ready installed luggage rack/tray.

I always like to travel well prepared, I know I take far too much gear, but you never know, and of course anything can happen!

With the mileage at 24081 Km I was ready to go! (The odometer reads in KM but the speed reads in MPH).

This was my longest trip yet on the Ural and I was more than interested to see how it would cope, especially as my journey through Dorset and into Devon meant climbing some big gradients.

Over the three days I was away, my steepest gradient climbed was 25% which I can tell you is steep. However, I had nothing to worry about, fully loaded the Ural was brilliant!

Following the A35 through Dorchester (where I stopped for fuel and a brew) and Bridport I got to Lyme Regis and the Jurassic Coast a World Heritage Site. I didn't stop a) I've been many times, b) I wanted to get on!

Here I could of followed the A35 up to Honiton and joined the A30 but the Ural is not built for busy dual carriage ways, so I took the twisty country roads which suited me just fine!

I followed the A3052 all the way into Exeter. Now Exeter to me is a bit like Gloucester, I can never seem to take the same road through the town twice.

I eventually popped up the far side of Exeter and on the A38  and had to ride up through Bovey Tracey as I wanted to get to Moretonhampstead. This for me is the gateway onto the Moor.

At Moretonhampstead I stopped to have a think about where I was going to camp that night. It was around 1400hrs and with a little over 2.5hrs of day light left, thought it best to head straight to the campsite and pitch there for the night.

It is more or less a straight road all the way to Princetown, with plenty of hills and sweeping bends to keep me occupied.

The weather up to this point had been ok, a couple of light showers, but nothing too bad. I had been wearing full waterproof gear since Dorchester, more to keep me warm than anything.

As soon as I got onto the Moor it started to rain, first just light drizzle, but there were a few heavy showers to contend with. Thankfully my wet weather gear works brilliant and all though on the outside I was soaked, my inner layers were bone dry and just as importantly still warm!

I pulled into the Car Park of the Plume of Feathers in Princetown which tucked behind it is a small field full of lumps and bumps and on a slope which was the campsite. Due to the amount of rain that they had had there was also very wet patches where the water naturally drained away. Finding a level spot that was dry was going to be a challenge.

I went into the pub, sorted out the pitch fee which was a very reasonable £6.75 and went back out to set up my tent and get my gear into the tent.

Thankfully the rain eased off enough to get all this done and just about managed to do all this as the last remnants of day light disappeared.

Nothing for it then but a pint of the black stuff!

I was feeling a bit knackered so instead of cooking decided to have a simple meal of ham, egg and chips, and of course another pint!

Back in my tent, roasty warm in my sleeping bag I settled down for the evening. Soon after getting into my tent it started to rain, heavily at times but the wind was light. The temperature certainly dropped.

I woke a few times due to the rain, but could also hear a sort of sliding noise of something heavy going down the side of the tent. My first thoughts were that it must be an animal, but soon worked out it was the accumulation of snow and ice being washed off the tent when the heavens opened!

I'd been keeping an eye on the weather via the BBC, even out on Dartmoor I had full internet accessibility via my phone.

This also meant I could keep in touch with Kiera to let her know I was still alive.

Tomorrow the weather was supposed to be clear first thing, but Storm Angus was rapidly approaching!

The journey continues.........................

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