Dartmoor Wild Camp 2023

Dartmoor Wild Camp 2023

No ratings yet. Log in to rate.

It was an enthusiastic group of 8 trip-goers that met sharply at a now infamous layby on Saturday morning. A short while after the advertised departure time Ollie turned up claiming his flip flops slowed him down. Sam Boston was picked up en-route after a 70-person houseparty and 2 hours of sleep the night before. With everyone, miraculously, awake we set off towards the South West!

All three cars arrived successfully in Postbridge two hours later, with the amount of complaining about Jj's driving at a level we've come to expect. A flood was expertly manoeuvred by Ellie and I felt quite sick after eating the 4 Snickers I bought at Exeter services. An unreasonable amount of faffing ensued, during which Jj managed to slice the back of his leg open. Ollie had his first aid kit out with almost superman speed but Jj, probably thinking he was being heroic, refused any medical help. The hike began anyway, towards a waterfall where some wild paddling was promised. Dissapointment followed as the rain started and the river was too cold and fast for Jon to even consider.

May be an image of 3 people, people standing and outdoors  May be an image of 3 people, nature and tree

We braved the drizzle (until it stopped a short time later) as we continued through Sandy Hole Pass. Alfie took over as custodian of the map for a stint of navigation to the excitingly named Flat Tor.
It's at this point that this trip report becomes quite difficult to write. This is largely thanks to a small worm spotted on top of the Tor. The ensuing conversation (largely between Sam and Jon) lasted well over an hour, and nothing vaguely appropriate for a trip report was said the entire time.

This brought us swiftly to the end of our first day of walking, after covering a mighty 8km! The camping spot selected was the top of Fur Tor. There was enough space for all 6 tents in the shelter of various rocky outcrops, which was perfect until the wind direction changed. It was at this point that Sam spotted a potential boulder problem and, after checking UKC, decided to attempt a first ascent. What followed was a sad attempt to impersonate a climber, and immediately getting stuck in a large crack. Some time later he managed to extricate himself from the situation and went to look for some more climbing (unsuccessfully).

May be an image of 4 people and outdoors  May be an image of outdoorsMay be an image of 8 people and outdoors  May be an image of 2 people and nature

Dinner followed, with Jon giving the moors the distinct smell of spicy Spanish petrol and Jj taking 30mins to partially cook a small amount of pasta before dropping it on the floor.

May be an image of 1 person and outdoors  May be an image of 3 people, people standing and outdoors   May be an image of 4 people, people sitting and outdoors

Darkness descended, and with it the fog, giving the moors a distinctly unpleasant vibe. We donned waterproofs and decided to spend the evening standing in a circle talking about 48 batteries, tinned beans and running the bath (ask Ollie!).

At bedtime (7.05pm) we headed to our tents. Ben, Ellie, Ollie and Holly were the lucky ones, in deciding to pitch their tents far away from the rest of us. Tess was not so fortunate, having pitched her tent in the middle of Adam and Sam, Joseph and JJ, and Alfie and Jon. The six of us spent the rest of the evening playing in-person games remotely. Our game of imaginary Cheat was hotly contested, but ended after Joseph didn't believe Sam placed 12 12s.
Next followed I spy which was chaotic, and unsurprisingly difficult, given the darkness and the fact we were in different tents. As the weather worsened the games were put on hold, as even our best shouting could not overcome the power of the wind.

The following morning we woke to a cold but clear and sunny day. Breakfasts were eaten and (very wet) tents were packed were packed away.

At 9am we set off back towards Postbridge before heading North into the boggy wilderness of North Dartmoor. With Adam's expert navigation skills and local knowledge, the boggier areas were successfully negotiated and in no time we arrived at the Quintins Man Cairn and unmanned military checkpoint.
Sam immediately jumped on the opportunity for some climbing, and the wannabe climber JJ followed.

May be an image of 4 people and nature  May be an image of 3 people and nature

May be an image of 2 people and outdoors  May be an image of 2 people and outdoors

Before we moved on, we thought it would be good idea to test the flagpole, resulting in a bag being suspended 10m high and a rather bemused Jon at ground level. Despite our intentions to test it with a person we quickly moved on, not wanting to be arrested or shot.

May be an image of 6 people and sky  May be an image of 1 person and grass

It was at this point that Sam and Ben once again suffered from their inadequate choice of footwear. With Sam claiming that his feet couldn't get any wetter anyway, he walked through the stream, subsequently getting his two trail shoes full of Dartmoor stream water.
The last Tor of the trip was Sittaford, where JJ tried to get involved in a Ten Tors team meeting, and kindly demonstrated his remarkable ability to impersonate an angry school teacher.

With the day warming up, we stopped for calm, peaceful, relaxing lunch on the sun-soaked banks of the River Dart.
Chaos and panic ensued.
With barely a moment's hesitation, JJ had jumped into the river, losing his glasses in the process. I admit that we found this very funny, until he pointed out that he wouldn't be driving anyone back to Bath without them. Ben came to the rescue, heroically diving the bottom of the river.

May be an image of 5 people, people standing, body of water and nature  May be an image of 2 people and nature

It was a short walk back to Postbridge, with some questionable post-paddle attire, that brought us back to the cars. Day two involved more walking than day 1 one - nearly 10km!
We would normally finish a trip report here, with a few mentions of people getting lost on the way back to Bath, and maybe someone who left most of their belongings in the back of a car. This is where I hand this trip report over to Sam Boston.


So, it was time for the real reason we had travelled down to Dartmoor. Faint murmurs had been heard across the Moors of the strangest yet most beautiful place in the world. That place you may ask? Trago Mills. If you’re unfortunate enough to not be familiar with what Trago Mills is, let me enlighten you. It’s Wikipedia page simply describes it as a “chain of department stores”. However, the Newton Abbot Trago Mills takes that notion and redefines the very words. Spanning 100 acres, it has a department store, a garden centre, a family fun park, a steam railway, a model railway, go karts, an ice-skating rink, a shooting gallery, remote control trucks AND boats, trampolines, crazy golf, picnic areas and if you thought it couldn’t do more, it even has a petting zoo. Small independent stores stretch the plaza, with takeaway food from fish and chips to a curry house and even an emo clothing store. On top of all that, the entire grounds are themed as a fairy tale castle. This truly was the place with it all. Is Disney still the happiest place on Earth? Not anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cinderella had moved into the Disneyland of Devon.

On arrival, we’re greeted with conservatory salespeople, shortly followed by an MOT stand. Our journey was only beginning. Entering the main store, aisles stretched as far as the eye could see. Some say you can see the curvature of the planet if you look far enough. Rumour has it all the staff there are just customers that couldn’t find their way out. Narrowly avoiding the busiest day of the month (Pension Discount Day) we had just enough time to do a whistlestop tour of the grounds. Do you need a key cut? Trago’s got you. Do you need a new bathroom? Trago’s got you. Do you need 1kg of Paprika? Trago’s got you… and so does Joseph. 1000 tea bags, a 10m spade and a real dinosaur, you name it, it’s got it. After losing Ollie in the maze of ancient merchandise, JJ and Holly make their way to the gun counter (between the kids’ section and the sporting goods) where they “got some invaluable education on the gunman’s terrifying shooting history”. AK47’s may or may not have been mentioned. After rendezvousing at the life size plane hanging from the ceiling (check out the wikipedia) and checking out the grand fountain out back, we decide to grab some food in the courtyard. It wasn’t long until we were utterly surrounded by peacocks. I didn’t even know we had peacocks in the UK. It was truly magical.



  May be an image of 4 people, people standing and outdoors

Peace didn’t last long however, and controversy plagued the group – do we ride the steam engine or not. Arguments flew back and forth. Eventually, all mentions of fun were overruled and we were sentenced to return home. There were varying levels of satisfaction from the group about Trago. It may have had something to do with Jon and I slightly overselling the place non-stop for the weekend, but I think it’s more because we never rode the steam engine. I guess we’ll never know. What I do know is, if you’re not impressed by Trago Mills then you’ll never be satisfied. If you want to know more about this amazing place I implore you to read the “Controversies and legal disputes” section of their Wiki, it’s a crazy ride.

May be an image of 3 people, people sitting and outdoors  May be an image of 2 people, people standing and nature

May be an image of 2 people, people standing, grass and nature  May be an image of 2 people and nature

May be an image of 4 people and outdoors

Thanks for reading to the end!


Adam Parsons, Walking Sec 2022/23

Sam Boston, Assistant Trip Report Writer 2022/23