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Dartmoor - train to train

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 Wainers44 09 Jan 2022

Since the Okehampton line reopened I have been wanting to do the N to S Station to Station run from there to Ivybridge.  I won't have been the first, and likely not even the first on here, but this is how yesterday went...

0840 Exeter St David. Cost £4 single to ride in a very new and shiny GWR 2 carriage train. Glad I decided on the later one so that I got to see more than black windows. Wonderful route and loads to see as you glide along. One regret, got nailed for £8 to park at the station.

Arrived Okey and great to see about 40 people waiting to get on the return train. To survive,  the service needs to be used. Already pouring with rain as per forecast, but no wind. That meant forecast wrong, either as the near gale hadn't happened,  or worse, the wind had much more south in it than forecast, so putting the station in the shelter. That would also put the wind straight at me. At the top of the first hill I was blown backwards by the wind. B*gger.

First leg was to top of Hangingstone Hill. Very wet and wild but easy route finding. After the section of peat hags and with zero viz I had a decision to take. Streams already in spate meant my normal direct route crossing the E Dart at Sandy Hole wasn't a goer. Instead I went due W from Whitehorse Hill to cross the river above Kit Rocks. That meant missing all the lovely runnable ground past mock Statts House etc. Instead I walloped in  endless bog until some tracks start to appear above Sandy Hole.

Then Lower White, Higher White and Longaford Tors in torrential rain and v strong winds. Managed a good pace down to Cherry brook Hotel and across Muddilake. First proper stop by Dartmoor Training Centre for coke and sarnies. Next was the really tricky bit. Crossing the Swincombe in full flood conditions.  Even the normally bomb proof island crossing above the dam was totally impossible.  I didn't want to add extra climb and distance by going back to Fairy Bridge so I gambled and headed towards Fox Tor Mire.

Best I don't ever talk about the actual crossing, but knowing the split at the base of the mire quite well, I had a plan and it worked.

Past Fox Tor then route one to Redlake Tip. Moor was shocking wet and you had to laugh really.

On the Rlake Railway it should have gotten much easier but as it was so wet, I  was wading as much as running.

Kick in the teeth was seeing the train trundle under the bridge as I ran down into Ivybridge meaning I had missed it and had a soaking wet and freezing cold hour to wait for the next in the bus shelter that pretends to be a Railway station. Star jumps for an hour to keep the cold away I could really have done without.  Train back to St David's was £9. Dartcom weather station said 30mm+ of rain and winds to 45knts,  so not the best weather, but still a great route. Thoroughly recommended Devon day out!

Edit, sorry, should add the Lord Strava says 29.9miles and 2,800ft of ascent 

Post edited at 19:57
 benl56 09 Jan 2022
In reply to Wainers44:

Brilliant you had classic Dartmoor weather. I have done the pure trail Dartmoor crossing race but would love challenge of doing it alone either as a run or 2 day backpack and the train is a great idea.

Ben

In reply to Wainers44:

Wow, what a day!

In reply to Wainers44:

Well done! What an incredible day 

 BuzyG 09 Jan 2022
In reply to Wainers44:

Sounds like a great day out on the moor.  I did a short section of your route today by coincidence. Probably shouldn't mention the weather today, but.....  it was Sunny  

Well done on the N/S route. A surprisingly flat one.  Dare I ask how long it took in those conditions?  

Lets hope the line stays viable, it was sad walking past the disused track with weeds staring to grow and seeing the station, sat there loved and pristine, but with no purpose.  So great that it is back in use again.

 Wainers44 10 Jan 2022
In reply to benl56:

> Brilliant you had classic Dartmoor weather. I have done the pure trail Dartmoor crossing race but would love challenge of doing it alone either as a run or 2 day backpack and the train is a great idea.

> Ben

It really is a great day out. You can make it a bit more "urban" by going via Postbridge or even Princetown,  but the direct route is wonderfully quiet.

 Wainers44 10 Jan 2022
In reply to BuzyG:

> Sounds like a great day out on the moor.  I did a short section of your route today by coincidence. Probably shouldn't mention the weather today, but.....  it was Sunny  

> Well done on the N/S route. A surprisingly flat one.  Dare I ask how long it took in those conditions?  

> Lets hope the line stays viable, it was sad walking past the disused track with weeds staring to grow and seeing the station, sat there loved and pristine, but with no purpose.  So great that it is back in use again.

Yes, went for a little stroll at Princetown on Sunday and weather was sunny! Grrr!

It was never going to be a quick day on Saturday.  The wind for a start didn't swing around to NW until well into the afternoon and at times was so strong it made running impossible.  Having to drop off my usual line from Whitehorse, via Quentins Man to Lower White to make the E Dart crossing possible made a huge difference. I also must have spent 40mins playing around at the Swincombe trying to get across. It was also a smidge damp underfoot...

So, those are my excuses, it took 7.5hrs station to station.  I have done it sub 6 hours a few times in better weather!

 cousin nick 10 Jan 2022
In reply to Wainers44:

Well done!

Dartmoor N-S is on my to do list and the train should make it easier (I had been planning to use the bus and possibly an overnight in Okehampton beforehand). Will need to check times as I'll be heading up from Cornwall.

Just before Xmas I did a somewhat similar jolly - N to S across Cornwall (Boscastle to Looe) over Bodmin Moor (35miles). I did it entirely at night as a fundraising event. May post the narrative in this forum section if anyones interested.

N

In reply to Wainers44:

> 0840 Exeter St David. Cost £4 single to ride in a very new and shiny GWR 2 carriage train.

Depending what you had, actually built somewhere between 1985 and 1995, probably the former on that line.  Shows what you can do with a decent quality refurbishment!

Re the run I would love to do that but nowhere near fit enough at the moment - maybe it should be a target!

 AWP84 10 Jan 2022
In reply to Wainers44:

I've done similar in the opposite direction, with bus back to Exeter from Oke, very pleased there's the train now. Such a fun route, also good for a camp along the way for a more leisurely trip, but that Redlake Tip to the other side of Fox Tor Mire is just horrid. 

In reply to cousin nick:

interested!!

 cousin nick 10 Jan 2022
In reply to AWP84:

I did Ivybridge to Princetown a while back, and from Redlake went up Erme head, Broad Rock, Eylesbarrow track and then Nuns Cross to avoid the 'pleasures' of Foxtor mires!

N

 BuzyG 10 Jan 2022
In reply to Wainers44:

7.5 is a fine time. Many would not even set off in such conditions.

Did you consider not crossing the East Dart?  The route over Sittaford tor, down to Post bridge is pretty good even when wet. Then through the forest to Huccaby tor, or over Bellever, if you fancy the view.  Cross the West Dart at Hexworthy and pick a route South from there, 

Post edited at 12:14
 Wainers44 10 Jan 2022
In reply to BuzyG:

> 7.5 is a fine time. Many would not even set off in such conditions.

> Did you consider not crossing the East Dart?  The route over Sittaford tor, down to Post bridge is pretty good even when wet. Then through the forest to Huccaby tor, or over Bellever, if you fancy the view.  Cross the West Dart at Hexworthy and pick a route South from there, 

Yes I have gone that way before. The rivers were so high that it might have even been difficult to cross the two streams between Quentins Man and Sittaford. I'm also not a huge fan of the trudge over Ryders Hill from Huccaby so I decided to cross the E Dart early and stay as close to the straight line as possible. 

For various reasons I think I know the moor pretty well and only needed one quick look at the map all day, and that was when my brain sat nav rang an alarm bell above Sandy Hole Pass. As I feared I was wandering too far west!

My worry all along was the Swincombe and I was very fortunate to find a viable crossing, and even that took me well into the swampy delights of Fox Tor Mire. What was odd was a bloke sat in his car at Left Lake,  which must be 4 miles out onto the moor. I didn't realise that you can get a vehicle onto the Redlake Railway. 

 GDes 10 Jan 2022

That sounds like a great day out. 

We it in lovely conditions one September, but quite a different route which I planned as the most direct way possible. We went from whitehorse Hill to Postbridge, through bellever to combestone tor, up to ryders, over to redlake and then down the track. I think it clocked at about 27 miles. Yiur way sounds much wilder, how far was it out of interest? 

 Sean Kelly 10 Jan 2022
In reply to Wainers44:

Fox Tor Mire in yesterday's conditions would have been challenging to say the least. Did it the other summer after a drought and literally bounced along! Dartmoor in winter is always a tough day, what with swollen streams and saturated ground, especially if not on good tracks. We'll done!

 Wainers44 10 Jan 2022
In reply to GDes:

> That sounds like a great day out. 

> We it in lovely conditions one September, but quite a different route which I planned as the most direct way possible. We went from whitehorse Hill to Postbridge, through bellever to combestone tor, up to ryders, over to redlake and then down the track. I think it clocked at about 27 miles. Yiur way sounds much wilder, how far was it out of interest? 

Strava on my route was 29.9miles down to Ivybridge Station.  I think the detour at East Dart Head, and the wandering up and down at the Swincombe added a couple of miles? 

I have used the Postbridge route before, but the direct line, Whitehorse Hill, Quentins Man, Statts House (mock one, and the real one), then Lower White, Higher White and contour across until you can hit the road at Cherrybrook Hotel is definitely quicker and shorter.  Mind,  it is rough. Normally you can cross the Swincombe at the Island (SX625711) then use wheel Emma leat to get you around to near Childes Tomb. The only really pathless bit is Fox Tor Girt to Redlake. Saturday required a more fluid approach to the route though (hah!!).

 scope 10 Jan 2022

"> Kick in the teeth was seeing the train trundle under the bridge as I ran down into Ivybridge meaning I had missed it and had a soaking wet and freezing cold hour to wait for the next in the bus shelter that pretends to be a Railway station. Star jumps for an hour to keep the cold away I could really have done without."

Good job you didnt twist an ankle in the middle of the moor then really. If you didn't have adequate kit to stay warm at a train station, you'd have been right in the shit trying to not die of hypothermia in those conditions before mountain rescue turned up.

Good effot though, glad it turned out safe and well.

 Wainers44 10 Jan 2022
In reply to scope:

> "> Kick in the teeth was seeing the train trundle under the bridge as I ran down into Ivybridge meaning I had missed it and had a soaking wet and freezing cold hour to wait for the next in the bus shelter that pretends to be a Railway station. Star jumps for an hour to keep the cold away I could really have done without."

> Good job you didnt twist an ankle in the middle of the moor then really. If you didn't have adequate kit to stay warm at a train station, you'd have been right in the shit trying to not die of hypothermia in those conditions before mountain rescue turned up.

> Good effot though, glad it turned out safe and well.

I did have plenty of kit inc a full bivvy bag. Felt a bit of a pratt getting into that at a station though. It was also the first run out for a nice warm OMM jacket, which I carried as a spare layer too. 

In reply to scope:

Good point on kit though I'd have gone to the pub rather than sit in the freezing cold on a station!  Ivybridge doesn't seem to be short of them.

 Wainers44 10 Jan 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Good point on kit though I'd have gone to the pub rather than sit in the freezing cold on a station!  Ivybridge doesn't seem to be short of them.

Did consider the pub option,  but couldn't be bothered.  I had more than adequate kit, and I think just as importantly plenty of spare grub. The upgraded bivy bag is something I didn't carry until recently,  but decided the ultra light survival bag I had wasn't up to it.

The spare jacket (unused during the day so nice and dry) was an OMM one and on top of the three layers I already had on, was plenty. Just galling to see the train chug away, on time. Why can't they be a few minutes late when you really need that!

 GDes 10 Jan 2022
In reply to Wainers44:

Interesting. We were aiming for the quickest way from northern most gate (near Belton) to southern most gate (near Ivybridge Station). We managed 4 hrs 45 I think it was, in pretty good conditions. Ive often wondered if some route tweaks and more fitness could dip it under 4. Your way sounds interesting, but lots of rough ground. The only rough section on our route was between ryders and redlake, and all the rest of it eminently runnable.

I'll have to go for a reccee on yours (maybe when the weather improves!)

Edit, just checked and it was 28.4 miles. 

Post edited at 19:24

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