So, when going half the length of Dartmoor on foot in a day, you wouldn’t think that the night before would be the challenge. It would seem that when doing Duke of Edinburgh, you need to pass a challenge of survival before attempting the expedition. We were about to embark on a four day hike crossing the length of Dartmoor and took a night in a luxury bunkhouse the night before.
Here’s what we were indulged with…
It was a classic fit-as-many-bunk beds-in-a-small-room situation and it was absolutely freezing. You might say, when spending four days outside in this weather, it was hardly surprising however we were actually putting on sun cream outside to go on our walk when just moments before we could physically see our breath in the bunkhouse when talking. We thought we could could try and rectify this situation ourselves but, note to self, when giving your coins to a large, old, cast iron heating meter, check there is indeed a heater in the room. Then there was the uninvited fragrance of the room, which again we tried to rectify but of course the window didn’t open (a blessing in disguise I suppose, considering the lack of heat).
Then of course there was the nice décor of peeling paint, a nappy found behind one of the beds and sweet wrappers furnishing the floor. And when talking about showers, never has the term “water closet” been more apt. One could just about fit in this tiny little cupboard as long as you didn’t have a desire to move or indeed shut the doors. Talking of small things; the beds. I was actually quite glad to have a bed the night before a Duke of Edinburgh expedition, however mine was ridiculously narrow and relatively low to the ground. As in, it was the top bunk and if my friend reached her hand flat out in front of her, it was resting on the bed with her hand against the wall. I’m not saying I need king size here but with just a plastic mattress, a slippery sleeping bag and no ladder or barrier facilities at all for the top bunk I was quite worried about the ability to stay on the bed. Not to mention, I’m fairly sure a lot of them weren’t actually bunk beds but rather just one bed placed on top of another. This was particularly evident when the legs of one top bunk didn’t align with the top of the bottom bunk and so was held in place with a precarious diagonal wooden splint on one side between the two.
With this less than modern interior theme, we were quite surprised to find a plug socket in the room, although after our heating escapade, I don’t know why we thought it would be a good idea to try it out. Nevertheless, a phone was plugged in to charge, although not for long because we heard a small ‘pop’ only to find the USB lead had been forcefully ejected from the plug and the plug, the lead and the plug socket had all been burnt black.
Anyway, after that little adventure and a not all that much sleep, we took the path less travelled down Dartmoor, although not always via actual paths. We walked through every weather Dartmoor could throw at us until one time we were hit with a downpour and within seconds we couldn’t see twenty feet in front of us, let alone the hill we were supposed to be climbing shortly. It also happened to be right at the end of the trip, just when we thought it had actually been going quite well and suddenly realised that if you moved at all you would have no idea where you were and if you didn’t, there was a small chance of hypothermia. Not the best final hour, but as always, there was a bit of good-natured singing to lighten the mood, until finally we got to our end point at the golf course. Unfortunately however, I’m not all too familiar with golf courses, not being a golfer myself and so when we reached it and I thought we were finished, it seemed as if we were only about halfway through the whole walk after the amount of time it took us to actually finish; if it had been a crazy golf course (the only type I’ve ever actually had to navigate around myself) we would have finished days earlier. Nonetheless, another little challenge overcome with many valuable things learnt and as always, on wards and upwards 🙂