With a new location and a new winter friendly style of accommodation in the Trail Unknown repertoire, our Dartmoor Adventure was another cracker! But before we get immersed into the home cooked farm food, cosy bunkhouse, rad trails, campfires and PUPPIES lets take a step back.
Why Dartmoor? Well this mystical national park is home to the highest point in the South of England and is spoilt with ancient towering tors, wild landscapes, one of the best night skies you'll see in England and an abundance of natural swooping tracks that take you on adventures across the stunning moors and past ancient sites.
For this trip we headed to Runnage Farm right in the heart of Dartmoor. We arrived on Friday to a huge rainbow that covered the entirity of Dartmoor, that's an omen for good weather right? The awesome bunkhouse had an old english stone cottage mixed with an alpine chalet vibe and most importantly had a fully kitted out kitchen for Chef Brad to work his magic in!
We met up with the group of riders on Friday evening and we swiftly cracked open a few Jail Ales from the local Dartmoor Brewery and set about getting tucked into some sausages from the farm with mash, peas and proper gravy! Our local guide Simon from Granite Trails ran us through the route and we finished the evening off under the stars around the fire.
We awoke early Saturday morning to blue skies and Chef Brad's singing. I'm not sure he's quite ready for the X-factor but along with the smell of bacon, pastries and coffee wafting up through the rafters of the bunkhouse it sure got everyone up with a smile.
When everyone was kitted up we headed into Soussons forest to warm the legs up. Our guest Matt had a mechanical 500m out of the farm, which is not what he wanted after travelling 6 hours the previous day to ride his bike. Luckily with a bit of brute force and good mechanic skills we got his bike back up and running and we headed up the near by tors to be treated by some flowing single track.
We navigated our way over to Hound Tor for lunch where we met Tom and Brad who had laid out a wonderful spread of sandwiches overflowing with home made chutney, lettuce, ham and chedder. Along with plenty of biscuits, fruit and energy bars washed down with some coffee and teas .
This trip we had a whole host of great characters, most notably Scout the trail dog who ran about 10 times the distance of everyone else. As we headed back to the campsite, Scout and Rupert got in between a cow and her calf who fully charged at us. It was a rather exciting moment!
The best descent of the day was the descent off Hamel Down which was about 4km of downhill and for at least 20 seconds we had wild ponies galloping in front of us - the sort of special moment you only encounter when riding natural tracks in wild places. Meanwhile, Chef Brad and Hugo went for a wild swim and then began putting together a feast for the crew before they arrived. On Saturday nights menu was a Chicken and prawn curry! We light a fire and chowed down on some marshmallows before heading to bed.
The farm where we were staying had just had a litter of puppies and ohhh the picture below pretty much sums it up but all i can say is another member of the Trail Unknown crew was very nearly purchased this weekend.
Sunday we were treated by another gorgeous day. Fuelled by another hearty breakfast we met a few new faces and headed out for our morning adventure taking in three of the local tors and enjoying some spicy downhills.
For lunch we returned to Puppy palace and tucked into another full bodied spread full of that local chutney that Brad and Hugo had sourced from the local farm shops...that consisted of an honesty box and an abundance of home made cakes, chutneys and jams...proper job!
The recent weather in Dartmoor meant there we're a few sections of bog to tackle. However, this just added to the adventure and made for some entertaining parts of the day. When we reached the downs the ups were soon forgotten as we flowed and descended down the swooping natural tracks of Dartmoor.
We finishing the ride off conquering Bellever Tor with a rocky descent and crossing the smiling man stone - which is older than Stone henge didn't you know... 'History Live'. To finish the day and the weekend we returned to the farm to the smell of fresh baked apple strudel, Tom's specialty.
Thanks to everyone who made this weekend an amazing memory. We rode some great trails and shared some awesome stories around the campfire. Until next time Dartmoor!
For our next trip we're heading back to Exmoor October 27th-29th - To find out more head to http://www.trailunknown.com/the-exmoor-adventure.html