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Mighty Mushrooms, Mythical Beetles and Misty Moors

Posted in The Chief’s Ramblings on Thursday 30th October 2014 at 12:41 pm by Steve

The Mythological Minotaur Beetle

Product placement to show scale of some mighty funghi

Fly Agaric

Looks almost like a glazed dessert close up

Saturdays panoramic view towards Beardown Tors

HML reassessment. Dartmoor can be a lonely place!!!

This is probably the longest title so far from any of my blogs, hope it is as intetresting as the title.

Over the weekend I ran another Hill and Moorland Leader Training course. I had six candidates attend and what a fun and informative course it was. Blessed with clear but cloudy skies and little wind it made for good walking weather. Only on the Monday did the thick mist arrive. It was however very mild for the time of year. Whilst out and about we spotted Snipe, Golden Plover and a Minotaur Beetle. The usual suspects like Ravens and Buzzards made their mandatory fly pasts.

The Minotaur Beetle was an interesting character and has a great name from Greek Mythology. This dung beetle has three protruding horns facing forward making it quite distinctive amongst the other beetles on the moor. The Minotaur, in case you were wondering was half Bull and half Man. It was imprinsoned in a Labyrinth and took delight in eating anyone who crossed its path. Unlucky though for him a plucky individual called Theseus entered the Labyrinth with a ball of string and slayed the beast. I think he used his sword to slay the beast and the string to find his way out. Otherwise he would have had difficulties trying to tie down a mythical creature using knots from a macrame manual. The Minotaur Beetle that we found had an antenna missing. Maybe it was a battle wound from when it escaped from a blow from Theseus the Newt.

Over the last few days I have spotted some pretty impressive funghi, especially great examples of Fly Agaric. These are the type of funghi that we will all draw if asked, with its bright red colour and white spots it is easily recognisable. Apparently vikings used to fire themselves up for battle with these as they are halloucinogenic. Too much though can cause death, reason enough not to try them. Mind you, if I were a viking going into battle it might be the lesser of two evils!!! At one spot on our travels, there were so many of them it resembled what could have been a little Piskie Hamlet. If Dartmoor Piskies existed of course. Close up they do look appetising!!

Yesterday I reassessed someone on their Hill and Moorland Leader. What a stinker of a day to choose to go out for a walk and be assessed. Visibility at times was down to about 10 meteres as the thick Dartmoor Mist shrouded the moor. No pressure then, especially when you are the only candidate!!! Cerri-Anne navigated well despite the conditions and with an assessor looking over her shoulder. Well done to her on passing her HML.

John paddled up the Tamar yesterday and said it was the foggiest trip he had paddled on that river. As there was no wind it was an eerie paddle as the river was glass flat and the moored  yachts would only loom out of the mist once you were upon them. Sounded like something out of Stephen King novel!!! He said he could even hear the toll of a distant bell. 

Next week I am down at St.Peters working on their Cross Keys award, preparing the students for next years programme. I have already started looking at our Young Spirit programmes for next year and it is going to be another busy one. I have one more trip down to Dartmouth in a couple of weeks and that will be my last of the year with Young Spirit. It has almost begun to feel like a second home at times down at Bolcombe Camp. 

The mist looks like it is finally lifting, so hopefully it wont be too bad a cycle home. I will however be wearing enough bright clothing to make me look as though I have been scrubbing the inside of an active nuclear reactor!!!


Widecombe Walk and other bits

Posted in The Chief’s Ramblings on Thursday 16th October 2014 at 10:08 am by Steve

That really can't be comfortable!!!

Walking down towards Grimspound

The view from Hamel Down trig point

Had a busy weekend at work and at home. Last Saturday was spent making trips in an old Landy to a small area of trees on the farm to collect wood from a Beech tree. The tree had already fallen and had previously been cut into rings. So it was just myself, Paddy and Festa with the task of splitting the wood, loading it into the Landy and then transporting it back to the farm. Well, since Paddy and Festa are collies it would be down to me to do all the work, very good they are though at fetching sticks and getting in the way. Paddy insisted on laying in the back of the Landy on top of the loaded wood with the intention of sleeping. As the wood piled higher all he did was keep repositioning himself on top of the wood. Who said dogs were intelligent. After three trips and alot of splitting the job was done. Took most of the day but at least now we have a ood supply of wood for the winter.

When I awoke early on Sunday it certainly felt that I had moved a fair weight of wood the day before. Unfortunately it was an early start as I was due to be at Widecombe for 08:00. It was the Marie Curie Widecombe Walk and each year we marshall the event. We set canes out along the route to help guide the walkers along their way. I usually set these out in the morning as I never really know what the visibility will be like on the tops of the hills. Luckily we had a clear but grey day and my race along the tops to set the canes before the walkers caught up with me was made easier. Standing around it got pretty cold, but if you were walking it was ideal weather. The event was a success and was finished off with a cream tea in Widecombe. Great way to end the day, certainly earned it.

On Monday I was up after repacking the car to go down to Dartmouth for an overnight expedition. To say it was raining on Monday would be an understatement. It lashed down all day and only finally eased at about 19:00. Luckily just in time to cook their pizzas. Tuesday was a totally different day and we had another great day on the river to end what was eventually a great trip.

We have a busy weeknend ahead with three groups arriving on Friday evening and staying until Monday. I will hopefully be out on the Saturday morning training with the Swift Water Team with DSRT Plymouth. I have a bit of time in the office today and tomorrow going over the details for the weekend.


Great mornings paddle

Posted in The Chief’s Ramblings on Thursday 2nd October 2014 at 3:00 pm by Steve

A mirror flat River Dart

Another cracking evening

Yesterday morning I ran a paddling trip as part of the activities during our Dartmouth camp. It was the first day of October and it was like a summers day. We even spotted a Kingfisher at it flashed past close to the rivers edge. 

As well as having a great morning on the River my evening excursion with the dogs was just as impressive. I know the picture is very similar to my last post, but what a great view.

It has been an incredible autumn.

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