I must say, it did seem to be very close to our camp but I also felt a little silly popping my head around the edge of the tarp and seeing nothing there. Maybe it’s the way that sound travels up on the moors that makes the sound of the Dartmoor ponies braying in the morning seem so close. So I went back to sleep for a little longer, which gave the early morning mist a little more time to clear.
By the time we did decide to arise, the dog walkers were out in force and we were eager to get packed away and down to Tavistock for a good breakfast. The view from my sleeping bag had become much more inviting, with the sun out and the promise of a dry morning. Breakfast ended up being eaten in The Original Pasty House which is well positioned opposite the church on West Street and they had their big windows rolled back lending a nice alfresco feel to our bacon & sausage baps, with coffee of course!
But this was no day for sitting and supping cups of coffee, there was the small matter of reaching Ivybridge ahead of us and with time ticking by we had to get up and get on. So off we rode to Morrison to pick up supplies for the day ahead and use the facilities.
Once loaded up with fresh water and bits and pieces for lunch we headed off back up into the moors, this time via Whitchurch Downs for a bit of variety and then back on the road to Merrivale. At Merrivale we took a farm track on our right, glad to be off the road again and making progress towards Ivybridge.
This trail took us past one of the many Dartmoor Torrs (Ingra Torr) and onward to Princetown. Unfortunately our map following failed us a little somewhere in between and when expecting to join a road ahead we instead joined what we later realised was the route of an old railway line. This still allowed us to arrive in Princetown eventually but not without a big detour out and around Kings Torr.
At least the rocky Kings Torr provided us with a good sheltered spot for lunch and my Chorizo Sausage Roll that I bought earlier from the Pasty House at breakfast time hit the spot perfectly . Once refreshed we pushed on, to Princetown and onward. Here, the Nun’s Cross trail took us up to South Hessary Torr, this was probably trail of the day, fast, fun and just rocky enough to demand concentration. There were signs at the Princetown end of the trail warning of trail rebuilding works in operation and my heart sank at the idea of a good fun trail being pacified for the sake of a couple of puddles but so far at least it seems to be limited to specific sections.
Unfortunately after this we had the most memorable trail of the day. The bridleway from Whiteworks across Foxton Mires and past Fox Torr. The whole section from before Foxton Mires until we reached the Two Moors Way was completely trail-less. On the map it’s bridleway, on the ground it’s just wide open moorland. The kind of stuff that you cannot ride over; so for around 2 hours we pushed, lifted and generally manhandled our laden bikes across and through long grasses, small streams, low lying bogs (although we tried to skirt around these) and if we hadn’t had GPS on our phones along with the digital OS map then we’d probably still be out there!
There were times when it felt like madness to be continuing onwards not knowing when we’d get back onto a ridable trail but we had our gear and knew that if all else failed we could just camp where we stood and continue the next day. It wasn’t the most enjoyable two hours and we climbed up onto the trail the other side with great relief and very soggy feet but it in retrospect it was a challenge and one we overcame!
The Two Moors Way down into Ivybridge on the other hand was the complete opposite; on a obviously man-made base, probably another ex-railway, although smaller so maybe a local industrial line, we sped along with the gradient generally in our favour and the wind mostly from the right and behind. So it wasn’t long before we knew that we’d make good time and arrive in Ivybridge with plenty to spare and conversation changed from ‘will we make it in time for tea’ to ‘lets keep our eyes open for a camping spot’.
Swooping around a bend not far out of town we spotted the ideal camping spot, so after stopping for a quick recce we made up our minds to return and noted the position on the map. Ivybridge led to Pizza, from Vino’s Pizzeria & Grill, mine’s a meat feast thank you very much. And we even managed to find a bench in the sun where we could take off our shoes and try to dry our socks if only for half and hour or so. I can’t tell you if this is the best place to get Pizza from in Devon but I certainly can tell you that after a day like this it tasted fantastic to me and at that moment, that was all that mattered.
Nicely full, we headed back to our camping spot; rounded the bend and much to our surprise found it filled with tents! It seems that we weren’t the only ones to have spotted the ideal location, sheltered and cut into the hillside. So plan B came into action, on our way down to town originally we’d noticed a second not quite so perfect spot and so we pitched up there instead. In the end I think this might actually have been the better spot because although it didn’t seems quite so well sheltered on first glance I think that given the wind direction on that night we were actually better off.
So after another day out in the wilds of Dartmoor we settled down to a good night’s sleep. The grass here was particularly thick and I must say I found myself to be really comfy. The only slight concern was the forecast of rain overnight and on into the next day, but we can’t choose the weather and what to do about the rain could wait until tomorrow.