Our most expensive hike...ever!
Updated: Sep 3, 2021
After doing multiple hikes on the South West Coast Path, which I loved, I was eager to explore some of inland Devon. I had heard that Dartmoor was a “must see” of Devon, so when Veronica suggested we go there for our next hike, I agreed. It was our first hike of 2021, and although we didn’t know it at the time, our last one together before Lockdown 3.0.
We got the train to Ivybridge and headed up into the moorland, where we were met by extremely strong winds. I instantly knew I much preferred hiking along the varied and ever changing coastline to this empty moorland. This was definitely the coldest and least pleasant part of the whole hike.
After passing the reservoir, we followed the Butter Brooke towards the tiny hamlet of Harford.
We passed some beautiful waterfalls and I sat by the water to read my book while Veronica took some self-portraits and shots of the stream.
As we entered Erme Wood, I realised the magic of Dartmoor. It was incredibly beautiful, with the River Erme running through the forest. I felt like I had travelled to some far off country and couldn't really believe that we were still in the UK! We were surprised by the amount of mud, but the stunning nature made all the jumping over puddles worth it. Despite being the middle of winter, the forest was still amazingly green, with moss covered rocks and trees thick with ivy.
Unfortunately, about half way through the forest walk, Veronica realised her iPhone was missing. It must have fallen out of her camera bag somewhere after we passed through Harford – the last point she could remember looking at it. I could tell she was starting to panic, so we began to retrace our steps along the river. I was feeling bad for Veronica, but was actually fairly happy to spend more time in the beautiful forest!
We ended up walking about 3 kilometres back up the trail, eyes peeled for a phone in a bright orange case. We asked some of the people we passed if they had seen it, but with no luck. We reached the road near Harford with only two hours before sunset, and still no phone. We decided to turn back around and retrace our steps – again – before heading all the way into Ivybridge to get the train home. At this point Veronica wasn't feeling very optimistic about finding her phone, but I tried my best to keep her spirits up.
What we didn't know at this point was that Dartmoor hadn't finished taking things from us that day...
We reached a fork in the path and, as before, took the left trail following the river. When we went this way the first time, we had no idea it was going to be significantly muddier than the main path. We had already walked this loop while searching for the phone, so this was our third time navigating the mud on this part of the path. It was also the most muddy part.
The first time I had walked this section, I was being cautious of the mud, not wanting to get my feet cold. By the third time, however, my shoes were already soaked through and I was getting a bit too confident with trudging through the mud. I jumped over a particularly muddy bit, but found my foot not reaching the solid(ish) ground that I was used to.
Instead, my left leg slipped waist deep into a “mud pit"...?
I instantly started laughing.
Veronica was not quite so amused. "You have to get out!" she said to me.
My leg was fully submerged in the brown sludge. When I finally managed to get out, I realised I was missing something – my left shoe.
“Well you better go in and get it!!” Veronica said in her stern tone.
I looked at her like she was crazy, no way was I going swimming in that cold mud to get my shoe that was a leg deep in mud. We tried poking around for it with Veronica’s hiking poles for a bit, but cold and worried about it getting dark, we had to sacrifice my new, expensive running shoe to its fate.
The realisation soon kicked in that I would have to hike the last couple of kilometres without a shoe. Luckily I had been wearing two pairs of socks, so I took off the muddy one and resigned myself to walking shoe-less the rest of the way back. It must have been something to do with the beauty of the forest (and Veronica promising me she would replace my lost shoe!), but I found the whole situation very amusing and managed to stay in high spirits. I actually fairly enjoyed feeling the ground on my feet for the final stretch of the hike – although that may have been because my feet were so cold and numb that I couldn't feel the small rocks digging into my skin!
Once we got to the main road, my feet were not so happy. Luckily for us, the train we thought we'd missed was 10 minutes late, so we managed to catch it just in time and didn’t have to wait an hour for the next one. By the time we got home, I was very happy to take a long, hot shower until I could feel my feet again.
All’s well that ends well in the fairydale.
Lesson learnt: don't go off the main trail on Dartmoor in the winter...unless you're very prepared for boggy conditions
Ashlynn is the first guest writer on our blog. If you have any adventure stories or photography you'd like to share, we'd love to hear from you! Click here to get in touch, or message us on Instagram!