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Dartmoor Epic 2016, Day 1

But we’ve done Dartmoor already! In fact it was only last year too! However, in several ways, I didn’t feel like I had truly “done” Dartmoor, not fully, not done it justice and so I was eager to return. Add to that the fact that I was eager to bring more people along for the ride this time and going back to somewhere that I knew had perfect camping locations just made sense.

So arriving for a second time into Christow near Exeter, Day 1 was about to begin. Unfortunately the extras I’d intended to have along with me this time turned out to be just one extra, but having Phil along to join me and Malcolm was very welcome all the same. I was also eager to show Phil that my 3 Day wild camping, mountain biking trek was a good concept.  Hopefully between us all we will now convince others to come next year; I think 4-6 people is a good target.

About to head off from Christow
About to head off from Christow

We started off on the road up through Christow but it wasn’t long before we got into the off-roading and found ourselves slipping and sliding our way down some pretty rocky & loose trails and then onward into faster hard packed woodland trails. Grinning ear to ear at the bottom of each one and eager to push on further into Dartmoor.

The trail down to the river at Lustleigh
The trail down to the river at Lustleigh

Last year we cut our Day 1 short at Postbridge having decided that the bridleway option along the Lich Way would take too long for the time that we had left. As such I was eager to try again and so wanted to reach Postbridge earlier. And we did succeed, reaching Postbridge well before the shop shut this time, allowing us time to stock up on water, snacks and also indulge in an ice cream. Phil made the mistake of not checking the label properly and accidentally bought sparkling water for his camelbak, much to our amusement.

The shop at Postbridge
The shop at Postbridge

However, my eagerness to take the bridleway option from here was unrewarded by a grassy and difficult to follow trail that saw us doing excessive amounts of pushing our laden bikes uphill through long grass. Having pushed on as far as Longaford Torr and standing facing a headwind, looking across a valley with no real sign of a better trail we took the decision to ride back down the way we’d come and complete Day 1 as we had the previous year; by road.

It may be road, but it's not just any old road!
It may be road, but it’s not just any old road!

Between Christow and Postbridge there had been plenty of good trails though. The area around Lustleigh in particular is good for fun mountain biking and somewhere I’d like to spend a day riding. If I was to pick out a highlight; for me it was the leafy wooded bridleway down by Bullaton Farm and then the rocky byway down to the road after the climb up from Slade Cross.

My trusty steed
My trusty steed

So Day 1 provided a good blend of fun off-road downhills, tough testing climbs and of course the awesome scenery you come to expect from a British National Park. We had also successfully made our way to Tavistock, where Fish and Chips were consumed before we retired back up onto the moor to set up camp for the night.  I made my Day 1 mistake during the Fish and Chip eating, spilling some of my baked beans down my only riding jersey.  From here on in I would be wearing a blue top with a baked bean sauce mark right down the middle.

Our camp, setup and ready
Our camp, setup and ready

Camp was setup with Malcolm preferring to bring a lightweight tent along and Phil and I making our shelter out of our bikes and my cheap 2×3 tarp.  Going off to sleep as the sun had set but it’s light was still just visible around the horizon, I could peek out from the warmth of my sleeping bag and see a fantastic view out from between the gorse bushes.  Up high on the moors, this is the outdoors that I have come to love so much!

My sleeping bag view
My sleeping bag view

It was a good night’s sleep, undisturbed by any rain, Dartmoor ponies or the roaming lynx that’s supposed to be out there somewhere, and we all woke refreshed and ready for Day 2, but that’ll have to wait for the next blog post.

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