Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Dartmoor: A Shelstone Tor Wild Camp

West Okement Valley near Slipper Stones
West Okement Valley, near the Slipper Stones
Waking with a throat that felt like I had swallowed barb wire, it probably wasn't the smartest idea to head out for a wild camp, but Matthew was still hanging around after New Year and I didn't really want to bail on him.

I had decided to emulate a challenge Matthew undertook in 2015 and wild camp in every month of 2017. Maybe I would learn to love camping again. Pulling out now would have been a poor start!

The walk to our accommodation for the night was, mercifully, short. We parked up near the Prewley Moor Arms at Sourton, which meant a quick ramble up over the moor to Shelstone Tor. It was late afternoon, being mid-week and bitterly cold, we figured there was little risk of theft when storing our rucksacks beside the outcrop, while we continued on to visit The Slipper Stones.

Fordsland Ledge
Fordsland Ledge
Black Tor
Black Tor (Okehampton)

This was Matthew's first visit, but my third and it is one of my favourite spots on the moor. The views overlooking Black-a-tor Copse and Black Tor are worth the walk along the West Okement alone. The name "Slipper Stones" refers to the polished sides of the valley, where there is evidence of granite smoothed by the glacial ice.

Slipper Stones
The Slipper Stones
Slipper Stones
The Slipper Stones

We took a slightly higher route back to Shelstone Tor, avoiding the descent to the waters edge. We decided on the best pitch, the chill wind blowing through the gaps in the lower outcrops, we found moderate protection above. When I had pitched my Terra Nova Quasar, I had no regrets taking the decision to go with it instead of my Hilleberg Akto. The space within is for two, and it's an expedition tent that brushes off any inclement weather with consummate ease. At 3.5kg, I hardly noticed the extra weight given we hadn't walked too far.

Shelstone Tor Wild Camp
Shelstone Tor Wild Camp

Shelstone Tor Wild Camp
Shelstone Tor Wild Camp

Tent up, the temperature dropped, and neither of us lingered long outside. It was a long night in our sleeping bags, made more of an endurance thanks to my rapidly closing throat. But it could have been a lot worse if I hadn't the space within to move around. I think I have rekindled my love for this tent.

View from the porch
View from the porch

Sunrise came, a drab grey one with little colour. We had breakfast, upped sticks and returned to the car. January's wild camp completed early in the month, I was looking forward to my next one, in February.

Up the West Okement to Lints Tor
Up the West Okement to Lints Tor


The Route: