Daniel Groves

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Midnight Madness

Published: 23 July 2015 · Tags: photography, dartmoor, hiking

Tom and I take part in the Dartmoor Search and Rescue annual midnight madness fundraising walk.

Every year the Plymouth branch of the Dartmoor Search and Rescue team run their annual Midnight Madness fundraising walk. As a life-long mountain rescue supporter I mentioned this to Tom, so we headed up to Princetown to take part in the annual event. The walk is around 10-miles and takes in four checkpoints en-route as well as North Hessary Tor, Little Miss Tor, Hucken Tor, and Ingra Tor. The route took Tom and I around 3 hours 15 minutes, including a food stop and a couple of photo stops.

Everyone gathered at Princetown primary school from sign-on at 8:00 until we all departed together at 9:00. Initially it was a dense pack of people all moving together, but as soon as the ascent towards the mast started everyone started to spread out as the ground steepened. We moved fairly fast while chatting our way up the ascent to North Hessary Tor, where we paused at the top briefly to snap a few pictures before pushing on. We’d agreed beforehand we’d see how far we could get before the sun set.

 alt: Sunset from North Hessary Tor
Sunset from North Hessary Tor

It wasn’t long before we’d dropped down to the road crossing, and then back on the incline we started pushing ahead of the main group of people aiming for the first checkpoint at Little Mis Tor. It was here that, once the timesheet was signed, we broke out some head torches to help with the rapidly diminishing light, although we never actually turned them on until we reached the road again and needed them for safety.

It was only a few more minutes until we hit checkpoint two.

Leaving the road and proceeding down the bridleway south made things a little more interesting. We found ourselves making our way along a wet, loose and rocky incline. This didn’t slow us much, but required placing feet with care to not roll an ankle or slip over. Throughout this we kept pushing a reasonable pace and soon popped back out on tarmac which led us up to checkpoint three.

From here the route turned left taking us back towards open moorland. The road quickly turned into a bridleway which we followed until is swung to the right. At this point we left it, straight-lining it across the open moorland until we hit the dismantled railway.

 alt: Ghost-like participants making their way past out food stop
Ghost-like participants making their way past out food stop

It was when we hit this that we made the decision to pause; we’d decided to take a couple of tins of beans and sausage with us, so we heated them up much to the envy of many of the others walking on past. Once we’d consumed these we pushed on, now following ground familiar to the both of us as a regular mountain bike trail.

We soon hit the checkpoint four, the final one before the finish back at the primary school. We stopped again here to have a chat with the team member holding the checkpoint (sorry, I should’ve asked your name!) while I pulled the tripod and camera out to capture the chain of lights making their way up behind us.

 alt: Looking back at the long chain of people making their way along the dismantled railway
Looking back at the long chain of people making their way along the dismantled railway

From the final checkpoint it was simple work following the old railway into Princetown and back through the village to the primary school where we received our route time, certificate, coffee and a pasty.

Anyone interested in supporting the the plymouth branch of Dartmoor Mountain Rescue team should follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, or keep an eye on their website for future events.