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Prakhar Srivastava

My Gold expedition Log entry

Prakhar Srivastava

Acclimatisation
Day 1 We arrived at the campsite in the afternoon and after the long journey we decided to simply sit on the grass and benches and relax whilst all our bags and tents were removed from the school van. When we received our tent, we decided to organise everything so that putting it up on the expedition was as quick as possible. I was sharing a three man tent with Rory and Joe, and we decided what everyones job was, once all the main exterior tent poles had been placed; for example, I was to secure the inner part of the tent to the outer part. By planning this procedure, we were able to put up our tent very quickly on the actual expedition, and it also prepared us for putting the tent up in any place, and this came in very useful on the first day of walking, where we had a bit of a navigation problem due to the excessive fog. After playing a simple game of catch with tennis balls and American footballs and running around, it was evident that the atmosphere in Dartmoor was different to the normal city atmosphere. Although the air was far fresher and cleaner, as the afternoon went by, I definitely noticed the humidity levels of the air. This was a real warning to all of us, because it meant that we would have to be careful not to strain anyone in the group by walking for excessively long periods. This extra humidity also affected my sleeping, as I found it very difficult on the first night to fall asleep comfortably. Another problem was that it did become fairly cold at night, and so I had to make sure to wrap up warm to avoid falling ill, as this would have detracted from my overall expedition experience. As for food on the first night, some of the group had purchase disposable barbecue equipment, and so we had an array of sausages and burgers to eat. I also made sure to test my personal gas stove at this point and how it worked exactly. This proved to be very useful as the first day brought lots of fog and in cold low visibility conditions, knowing what to do already was a great help. Day 2 This was the day where we going to try a preliminary walk on a simple Dartmoor route, but we did not have our rucksacks full. We had a meeting with our expedition assessor, Roger King, and so to prepare, we all reviewed our compass reading skills as well as our expedition routes. Our assessor gave us some useful advice and some common sense tips too, and this really boosted our groups confidence for the 4-day expedition to come. On our preliminary walk, we all practiced the skills that wouldve been needed on the expedition such as map reading, taking bearings and walking as a group. Perhaps the most useful realisation of this trip was that it demonstrated how bare the Dartmoor landscape can be at times, and therefore it emphasised the importance of knowing where we were on the map and checking regularly to ensure we didnt get lost. Even with this in mind, when the fog came in on the first day, navigation became an almost impossible task once we lost track of our exact position.

Prakhar Srivastava

We also visited the Dartmoor visitor centre to view the exhibitions they had to offer. It was really interesting reading about Dartmoor folklore and legends and we even tried on a few of the masks they had! There was also a great range of images we could do brass rubbing on, and it provided a very nice souvenir. There were also a few headphones available so I listened to a bit about dartmoors history, which was quite interesting. However, the most useful part of the visit was all the information that was provided about various land uses in Dartmoor and this was perfect for our group purpose work. So Catherine was sure to note down all the specific land uses Dartmoor is known for, and we distributed these amongst the group in order to complete our purpose work. To conclude our preparation for the expedition we ensured our rucksacks were fully packed and we followed this by going to a local pub for our last hot meal in 4 days! However, the acclimatisation period was very helpful, and in hindsight almost pivotal in our success as a group on the expedition.

Expedition Day 1 Our starting point was Pump House, and as we travelled in a south westerly direction towards our first checkpoint, it finally dawned on me that we were going to be almost on our own for 4 days. However, the entire group and I felt confident of our ability to cope and also thrive in any circumstance. We had to follow a dismantled tramway and go past a car park on our way to the 4th checkpoint, using a footpath across Norsworthy bridge, and heading south east towards Deancombe. After heading south west on a footbridge we went in a south easterly direction onto the moor and then headed north east to Nuns Cross farm; our first major rest point and also our allocated time for lunch. This part wasnt easy though, and we definitely had to work hard to complete our first real uphill section; our net climb was about +190m. section; +190m. At this point we felt confident as were adhered to the timings set on our routecards, and we were coping with the intensity of the walk well as a group. We ensured to

Prakhar Srivastava

help each other with little things whilst walking, such as putting water bottles back in rucksacks, so that none of us really had to stop. However as we finished lunch, we were to be truly tested as the fog thickened and visibility reduced dramatically. It took us by surprise as it limited our ability to sue the surroundings to help us with the map reading. We managed to use compass bearings to get us to Plym Ford, but by this time we had already lost time. Our problems were to become worse as the fog closed in, and our ability to differentiate different directions without the help of a compass became very difficult. However, the map readers of the group, Catherine and Rory, were fantastic and their diligence helped us get to blacklane brook ford, albeit far behind the scheduled arrival time. At this point, we became unsure of our location, and as a group we decided that with being so far behind schedule, the best option was to set up tents by the ruins of an old stone house, and set off early the next morning. It was a good flat location to stop, and also something that we could locate on the map and this made our morning departure much easier. We called Mr Harwood, one of our teachers on the trip, using the emergency phone in order to notify them of our circumstances. We were encouraged to set up tents and set off early the next morning, so we had made the right decision to stop when we had. We had another problem though, Rabia had begun shivering quite intensely and so we prioritised getting a tent up for her and finding a place in the stone ruins for her as shelter whilst we put up the tent. I also got my gas stove out and prepared it so that all of us could have hot drinks, as it was quite cold and windy by this point. After eating, and ensuring we were all warm, we decided to call it a night and slept at about 9pm to ensure we would be able to set off on time the next morning.

Expedition Day 2 Thankfully, as we woke up the fog had cleared and the wind had subsided. Our map readers were able to determine where we were, and we were in fact very close to Huntingdon cross, but it would have been risky to have tried to reach there the evening before. We set off early, but werent quite able to make up the time lost on day one as we reached Huntingdon cross. Our first checkpoint of the day 2 was Ryders Hill, and this was an incredible hill that stood on its own in the landscape and so finding our position on the map was very easy. After climbing, (vertical gain of +160m) we rightly took a 10 minute break in order to ensure everyone was hydrated. We then needed to get to Hexworthy, and so we went downhill and joined a track just past the brook and followed a short road to Hexworthy. We then took an easterly footpath from Hexworthy, and had to cross a ford as well as a path over a river past Prince Hall hotel up to the two bridges checkpoint. We also saw a quarry near this checkpoint and were sure to take a photo in order to aid our group purpose work, as quarrying was a prominent land use in Dartmoor. We stopped at two bridges for lunch, but took our first path to the right on departure and went north, following a river to our next checkpoint Crockern. Our first real problem of the day came near the Powdermills Chimney checkpoint, where we encountered a, for the lack of a better word, great bog! The landscape was so different to normal, and I was thankful for my waterproof ankle covering boots and thick walking socks. After travelling through this, we decided to take an unscheduled

Prakhar Srivastava

break as we did not plan for the difficulty of walking through very soft and very wet terrain. However, we encountered this several times over the expedition and became attuned to it fairly quickly. We eventually ended up in Bellever forest on our way to our penultimate checkpoint, the Bellever Bridge. We had to then keep a certain stream on our left hand side as we made our way to Dury farm campsite. I personally was very tired and after eating food, prepared for an early night. I made sure to utilise the farm toilet to clean myself as well as the campsite bin to get rid of rubbish that had accumulated in my bag over the first two days.

Expedition Day 3 Leaving Dury farm, we followed a south easterly track on to a road which we turned left off of in order to follow a track north to our first checkpoint Pizwell. We headed in a northerly direction for quite some time and reached Greywethers stone circles. However, this was also one of the more challenging uphill climbs of the trip, with a net gain of +130m. By this day we were all beginning to become tired a bit quicker and we were all a bit frustrated by the intense walks. However, after persevering through the fog on day one, we reminded ourselves that things could definitely have gone a lot worse, and so we were able to keep upbeat with each other. Another physically challenging climb was to come between the checkpoints Footbridge and Hangingstone cairn. This time our net gain was +162m and so soon after the previous climb, we were all exhausted at the end of this one. We rightly took a break, and rehydrated and re-energised ourselves. Following this break, we headed north north east towards the edge of the danger area marked on our maps. We passed the Wild Tor checkpoint and continued towards little hound Tor where we met up with a group of our teachers. Unfortunately they had a limited clean water supply, and so we planned to utilise the water from the river near our campsite at the end of the day. However our second real problem of the expedition came at the Little Hound Tor checkpoint as Joe realised the tent poles had come unattached to his bag without him knowing, meaning that he had lost the tent poles. He was unable to recall when or where it happened and we accepted that it was an accident, and decided against going to look for them. Luckily, the teachers had a spare set of tent poles to lend us for the last night of wild camping. We made our way to the campsite, which was a flat area we chose that was right next to a ford. This was perfect, as we were all able to relax by dipping our feet in the stream, and simply run around in the water for a short while. We also knew we would have to drink the water from the river and so we tried to find the fastest flowing part of the river and collect water from there. Tom had a fairly large amount of water

Prakhar Srivastava

purification tablets and so he distributed some of them amongst us, and although the water didnt taste very good, it was pleasing to know it was safe to drink. Setting up our tent was difficult and we had to improvise with the tent poles the teachers had lent us. Although the tent was slightly altered in shape, it stayed upright and was sufficient for one last night of sleep.

Expedition Day 4 Surprisingly, we all woke up on time and managed to set off on schedule with ease, no doubt due to the fact it was the last day of a long and arduous expedition. We began by crossing the ford we camped besides and followed a track north and turned left at the moor to reach our first checkpoint Resuggate. We proceeded to head north north west and pick up the track going southwest to our second checkpoint Cullever steps. It was a fairly simple day of walking to round off the trip and this was emphasised as we simply headed south to reach Henrys ford. However we encountered a fast flowing river at this point and desperately needed to cross it in order to avoid losing track of time. In the end, we decided to throw our bags across first and then jump over individually, unfortunately Rabia slipped a bit and ended up drenching her feet, however it was brilliant of her not to complain and carry on walking at our regular pace for the entire day. Another interesting part of the walk was between our checkpoints New Bridge & Black Down. This included a stretch in the danger area marked on our maps and it was very interesting seeing various military vehicles and infantry practising drills in the distance. We even saw a few bullets lying around on the floor! We travelled out of the danger area and towards the reservoir where we had lunch and met up with the teachers. At this point, the rain really picked up and made all of us feel miserable, but we knew that we had almost completed the expedition and so carried on in an upbeat manner; Tom in particular was a great pleasure to have on the expedition as he continuously encouraged each one of us throughout the 4 day trip and was able to cheer us up with frequent light hearted jokes. We crossed a dam and followed a reservoir bank to Vellake corner and from here crossed the stream at the nearest footbridges and turned left to steadily climb to Sourton tour in a south westerly direction. Travelling south south west and then over Coombe Dow, we passed the west side of Great Nodden and reached Nodden gate. The mist began to build up again at this point, and we as a group decided to have no more breaks of any kind as we were desperate now to complete the expedition. We almost lost track of our position on the map due to the fog, but using compass bearings our map readers managed to finally get us to the car park of Dartmoor Inn; the end of our 4-day expedition.

Prakhar Srivastava

My Menu for the expedition Breakfast (4 mornings worth)


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Cuppa Soup, Go Ahead Bars x 2 Porridge Mix, (just add hot water) Cuppa Soup & elevenses choc chip bakes Go ahead Bars x 2 & Hot chocolate

Lunch, (4 days worth)


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Pre made sandwiches Uncle bens spicy Mexican rice, (made the night before) Uncle Bens Chinese style rice, (made the night before) Bag of pretzels and a bag of mixed nuts and fruit

Dinner, (3 nights worth)


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Uncle Bens rice with spicy tomato mackerel in a tin Uncle Benr rice with curried fish in a tin Campbells chicken and vegetable soup & a bag of nuts

Snacks taken along the way, ( a few examples) Haribo, Robsinsons jelly sweets Flapjack bars Go ahead cereal bars Choc chip bakes Mixed fruit and nuts Mixed bag of miny Cadbury chocolates