In early May, OMSer Sean Kressinger and his friend Trevor trekked a marathon through Dartmoor National Park in South-West England. They did it as part of our 'Marathon in Many Bites' challenge, raising awareness and funds for Overcoming MS. Sean kindly shared his experiences with us of a tough trek through stunning countryside.
Dartmoor National Park is a wonderful area in the wonderful county of Devon. It can also be wicked if the weather catches you out! Fortunately for Trevor and I, apart from an hour’s drizzle at the very start of our three day walk, we were blessed with sunshine and warmth.
A nice extra dose of vitamin D. I’ve always walked and occasionally camped on Dartmoor… granted, more so in my youth. There were plenty of parts I’ve yet to explore so what better excuse to accept the ‘Marathon in Many Bites’ challenge?
There is said to be a square mile of Dartmoor for every day of the year – 365 in all. There’s lots I’m still to see but we planned to walk around nine miles a day over varied terrains, all circular routes and strangely all passing hostelries on the way.
Actually, it’s hard to find pub food that isn’t pie and chips or variants thereof - hardly OMS-friendly so they were sadly bypassed. How many of us have frowned at seeing the token cheesy chips for the veggies? Dartmoor is known for its impressive tors (rocky outcrops) and bleak, wild moorland - it is boggy Hound of the Baskervilles country.
A dramatic setting
The grey Dartmoor prison sits mid-moor and once housed Napoleonic prisoners (who incidentally were used to build many of the stone walls on the moor).
There are however other great aspects of the moor to explore such as the beautiful villages, the natural woodlands and plantations, the tranquil rivers, and of course the valleys or ‘cleaves’ such as Belstone Cleave of ‘Tarka the Otter’ fame. Armed with small rucksacks and walking poles we spent day one along the East Okement river and Belstone, day two around the old mining area of Merrivale and day three along the stunning Lustliegh Cleave. We camped at night in the village of Peter Tavy;
Trevor in his tent and I – being happily middle-aged and having served my time sleeping on the ground with a rock jutting into my hip, slept in my trusted Berlingo with a small camper conversion.
Not hardcore maybe, but so comfortable. I’m a fairly experienced map-reader so I thought there would be no need to take my 30 year-old compass on the walks. Bad decision! We got slightly lost on day one, a little bit lost on day two and very lost in the woods on day three.
All this resulted in walking further than planned with a total of just short of 30 miles for the whole trip. These of course aren’t 30 ‘road miles’ but 30 miles of steep inclines, boulders and rivers to cross.
There was a huge sense of achievement for both Trevor and I. In fact, the whole process of sponsorship was so uplifting. The support was amazing, the donations were generous and we’re fully planning to do similar next year. I can highly recommend it to all us OMSers.
Dartmoor has so many pathways for all abilities, so the exercise box is ticked. Weather dependent the vitamin D box is also ticked, and the meditation/mindfulness box is sure to be ticked as soon as you arrive. Happy days.
A big OMS thank you to Sean.