Fancy a Stroll?

Top Tips for Amateur Explorers.

activities Dartmoor walk

As the weather gets warmer, and we all begin to dream of days free from looming deadlines and exams, I’ve begun to reminisce about what I did with my free time last year…

One Saturday around Easter, three naïve young freshers took the plunge and wilfully chose to explore the unmarked territory of Dartmoor. It had started so well – carefully packed baguettes from breakfast, our printed 8 mile route still warm from the printer and all accompanied by our tuneful harmonising to the radio (or what in reality sounded like strangled cats). As we delve deeper into the countryside, we naturally had to make do with whatever CD’s we could find as we soon ran out of signal.

So, how did this very promising start degenerate into uncalculated mayhem? And how, as budding amateur explorers can you do your very best to avoid the same potentially fatal errors?

1) Avoid cows at all costs.

There are very few people I know that haven’t at least heard of someone who has had a run-in with a cow. Dangerous and aggressive monsters, don’t try and stare them out. They are faster and larger than you, so run for the hills.

2) Check the weather in advance.

Overly optimistic, my friends and I chose to sport leggings, trainers and hoodies. Unsuitable attire when it is pissing down with rain and the wind is close to blowing you sideways. If I had known this in advance, I would have refused to tag along and most definitely have worn my wellies.

3) Don’t overestimate your abilities.

Picture three fairly short to average height girls with particularly short legs tackling slippery stepping stones. Yes, I tried to slide across on my bottom, but found my feet stuck on one stone and my hands holding on to another for dear life forming some sort of human bridge. In the end, I was flung across by my friend. And girls made of more sensitive stuff may have been scarred for life in the process. On the upside, it was a great teambuilding exercise.

4) Geographical knowledge / map-reading skills required

Despite having one geography student among us, we still managed to get significantly lost. I think it was the instruction, ‘there is not a clear path here, just continue to walk through this peaty field’, that stumped us. Images of us spending 40 days and 40 nights wondering the moors may come to mind. Needless to say, we ended up knee deep in a bog and had to climb across a precariously placed branch spanning a river, true Junglebook style, to find our way home. For, there was no way that I was ever going to re-cross those stepping stones.

Ultimately, we arrived home knackered and sopping, but all in one piece and fairly happy. While I’d recommend an adventure on Dartmoor to all of you, I’d also advise following some pretty standard tips saving both your integrity and sanity.