It has been a while since I’ve walked on the moors, partly due to the Autumn travels and partly weather and the other usual things that simply get in the way. We decided to try and get the year off to a good start from a walking perspective and agreed to get out early in January. The overnight weather was very bad indeed and it was still raining almost until we set off. One of the problems walking on Dartmoor is that it is usually quite wet; weather such as we had overnight makes even the relatively dry areas wet (and the wet areas become streams) so we headed to Hameldon near Widecombe in the Moor as that is usually drier than many areas. We did wait in the car for 10 minutes before setting off to allow a heavy shower to clear and when we got out of the car we realised just how windy it was. Heading up the ridge I took the left hand photograph looking south. The “washed out” look is typical of Dartmoor in these sort of conditions and the amount of water on the track can be seen. A fairly short distance further on the view of the right hand image appeared and it was obvious there was bad weather on the North Moors. It seemed sensible to duck behind the wall there and have an early snack break to allow the weather to pass as the ridge becomes more exposed from here.
The heavy shower passed quite quickly and we headed on up the ridge. In practice the walking became quite hard as the wind speed increased markedly on the top of the ridge. We estimated that the wind was gusting at over 50 mph based on the impact it had on our walking. We tend to walk using poles and without them on a day like this it would have been very hard going. We veered a little left as we walked to bring to the point of the ridge immediately above the ancient settlement of Grimspound. Heading down a little I took the two images above. The left hand image looks a little west over Grimspound and beyond to the tin mine workings at Headland Warren. The right hand image looks over Grimspound to Hookney tor, our next destination. As can be seen the threat of rain had lifted and without the wind it would have been a decent day. There was a little shelter at this lower point however we were heading back up the ridge.
Reaching Hookney tor we came back into the wind again. While not large Hookney is a reasonable sized tor and we expected to be able to shelter from the wind to have our lunch. In practice it was one of those days where the wind was swirling around the tor and shelter was a relative concept. The photograph above was taken as I was having lunch looking south down the valley. In some relative shelter it was lovely to sit and look out over the moors in winter. We headed off again to the east and then back south along the ridge to the car. As we headed north up the ridge we were walking almost head on into the wind and so had said that at least as we headed back the wind would be behind us… Wrong – the wind had actually gone around to the west more and so was blowing in from the side and still making walking hard at times. I do realise others have had far more problems with weather recently however we have had strong winds for a while now and it may well be a week or so before I’m out again. It was great to be out again though.