Daniel Groves

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Broad Falls Wild Camp

Published: 15 June 2015 · Tags: photography, dartmoor, camping

A trip out to Broad Falls, Dartmoor, to photograph the waterfalls with a dramatic backdrop

The last time I was near Red Lake on Dartmoor a bit of a personal vendetta was sparked off. The sunset and sunrise were both pretty incredible but having spent 6 hours walking into a 40mph+ headwind on the previous occasion, with several inches of water on the ground, I was keen to get back in better conditions.

After a morning of throwing kit into a pile and attempting to shoe-horn it all into a 40 litre pack, I met Max and Sam at 13:00, to grab the 13:30 train into Ivybridge where we met Mike around 14:15.

We quickly proceeded to start the march up the old miners track towards Red Lake, making much shorter work of it than previously thanks to the much dryer and wind-free conditions. From here we peeled off along the Two Moors Way until we crossed the River Avon. Turning left we followed the bank up to Broad Falls where we found a suitable area big enough to fit our four small tents.

 alt: Cooking in the evening
Cooking in the evening, with my tent in the background.

Before setting up camp, we crossed the river to check for any better spots on the other side, spending some time encouraging Max to fall in (we can always hope). Shortly after the tents were up, dinner was on, and the fog moved in. Mike and I quickly decided we weren’t going to be getting any landscape photography in that evening and so concentrated on the camp instead.

Waking up the next morning presented some far better conditions than the previous night. The fog had cleared and the textures had developed nicely in the sky. We all got some breakfast and morning coffee on before proceeding to photograph the waterfalls in the morning light.

 alt: Broad Falls on the Sunday morning once the fog had cleared.
Broad Falls on the Sunday morning once the fog had cleared.

After packing up we moved quickly on to the ‘volcano’, the slag heap at Red Lake China Clay Works. We spent a few minutes exploring here, identifying a potential new spot for a future wild-camp before moving on to take the long trudge back down the miners track into Ivybridge, briefly stopping at our previous camping spot, Leftlake Mires, for a cake stop.

 alt: The 'volcano'; this is actually an old slag heap at the old Red Lake workings.
 alt: Max  alt: Mike observing the view  alt: Max  alt: Sam
The ‘volcano’, a slag heap left over from the Red Lake workings (top). Max (left); Mike (centre left); Sam, Mike and Max (center right); Candy (right).

As we approached the station we realised we could make an earlier train, saving an 1:20 wait, if we ran the 100 meters or so (easier said than done with a 21kg pack, and stiff walking boots on). Arriving at the station we all hopped on the train back to Plymouth for the short journey home.