It’s funny how little time I spent on Dartmoor growing up living only half an hour or so away from it’s wild borders. We’d take the occasional trip up there, usually the popular walk up Haytor from the neighbouring car park, but I had little sense of what lay beyond.
Walking didn’t really appeal, even when the opportunity to train and take part in the Ten Tors Challenge at school came along. Many of my friends took part (though never completed the challenge due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease) but I never felt the sense that I was missing out on anything.
Only more recently have I spent any considerable time exploring the rugged landscape fuelled by a desire to catch up on lost time. Preparing to walk the Pennine Way this summer has provided the perfect excuse to spend more time criss-crossing the wild playground in my backyard.
The lure of the north moors had grown too much having passed by the snow covered hills on my way to work the day before. We grabbed our packs and donned various warm layers before heading back up the A30 towards the promise of a winter adventure.
Rising high above the Devon landscape, a wild and unspoiled sense of remoteness towered ahead of us. Only the curling waves of a windswept reservoir lay in front of the snow dusted peak as we began our wintry walk.
We left the car park behind and started towards Meldon Reservoir. The sun greeted us like an old friend as we made our way across the dam that spans the West Okement valley.
The Pennine Way, a sprawling 268 mile trail along the spine of Britain, stretching all the way from Edale in the Peak District up to Kirk Yetholm, just past the Scottish border.
While it’s not the longest path in the UK (that title goes to the South West Coast Path), it is certainly one of the toughest. Notorious peat bogs, unpredictable weather (this is the UK after all) and a climb of around 12,000 metres (40,000 feet) over the length of the walk make it quite a challenge to say the least.
This is the challenge that we’re going to take on in August 2016 in order to raise money for Young Minds. To make it even harder we’ll be carrying all of our equipment, food and supplies with us on our backs. That means no fancy hotel rooms or shuttle services carrying our packs for us. We’ll be as self sufficient as possible and of course walking the route in one go.