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A beautiful day out!!!

Posted in The Chief’s Ramblings on Monday 24th November 2014 at 1:26 pm by Steve

Early morning light behind Hound Tor

Classic Dartmoor view, including ponies!!!

Looking out from Tunhill Rocks

On Saturday I had a fantastic walk around the Widecombe area with some ladies from the Womens Challenge Club. The Ten Tors walk as it was titled, took us on a circular route starting from Hound Tor. Holwell Tor, Haytor, Saddle Tor, Chinkwell were among those visited. The wet weather that was forecast did not appear and instead we were blessed with some warm sunshine and stunning views. All of our ten designated tors were visited. As we were approching Haytor were treated to an arial display by a huge flock of Golden Plover. As they took flight and flew close overhead you could hear the rush of the air from their wings. An impressive sight!!! I spotted my second only Devils Coach Horse Beetle and this time managed to get a picture of it. Unfortunately I will have to post it later in the week as those pictures are on another device. (I know you will all wait with bated breathe).

As we finished the walk arriving back at Hound Tor, the skies darkened as the clouds obscured the late afternoon sun. It was all too late, we had alraedy enjoyed a day on the hill to remember.

Later this afternoon we have a Princes Trust group arriving from the Weymouth area. We will be running activities for them tomorow and Wednesday. Beautiful day today up on the moor and this morning was our frost of the season. Think the wet weather is back tomorrow. Never mind enjoy it whilst it lasts!!! 


Calm after the storm

Posted in The Chief’s Ramblings on Friday 14th November 2014 at 8:54 am by Steve

Autumn colours on the Dart

On Wednesday morning we had another great paddle on the Dart estuary. Despite the heavy rain and strong winds that blew throughout the night we were blessed with a stunning morning. It was fitting last paddle of the season for Young Spirit. 


Who turned the water valve on?

Posted in The Chief’s Ramblings on Thursday 6th November 2014 at 2:05 pm by Steve

Surprising what you can find up on the moor

The ascent done, its all down hill!!

Forgot to attach a picture whilst posting my last blog. Got carried away with stories of Minotaurs and things. The picture is a bit more relevant to the weather we are having at the moment and that is very wet!!! Whilst out on the HML reassessment we came across a large cast water valve laying in the grass. Totally random thing to find, especially since no other pipe work was present or could be seen near by. Maybe I should close the valve again and stop the rain!!

Last Sunday I managed to get out on my mountain bike and had a pleasant 11 mile ride albeit very wet and muddy. We had fantastic views and it was until then still very mild. My ride home last night was not the case as the evening temperature plummeted. Fingers were pretty numb upon arrival at home as I only had my thin gloves. Mild again this morning for the ride in, all these major wardrobe dilemas early in the morning!!!

We will be running another Hill and Moorland Leader Training course on the 13th to 15th December. This award is becoming popular with those who are Ten Tors Training or running DofE. So if you would like to attend then please give us a call in the office, spaces filling up already.

We will also be running some poor visibility navigation training over three dates early next year. These will be 11th and 25th January and the 1st March. No need to be a fair weather walker when you could be walking the moors all year round with confidence.

We have another busy weekend ahead with two large NCS teams from Weymouth, an Intro to White Water course and I am walking to Ten Tors with the Womens Challenge on Saturday. It may even be a case that I will get blown to Ten Tors on Saturday if this afternoons weather is to go by.


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!!!

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