I had such a busy day yesterday, but all of a sudden around 7.30pm I got the kind of urgent urge that Mole must have had with all that spring cleaning.
Fabulous Weather + long evenings + a planned visit to Buckfastleigh tomorrow = THE PERFECT night for an expotition up on the moor and a night out under the stars.
A quick ferret under my tiny bunk for overnight kit and a bit of a skuttle round to pay lip service to tidying up and I was out by 8pm and on my way to the Avon damn…. heading off into the sunset like the best of them.
All that heaving Sir G up mountains in Greece can’t have been for nothing. I hauled the E-bike to the top of the damn up a rutted track that would have been tricky even on my fantastic mountain bike, hid it under a gorse bush and walked a little way until I found a perfect me-sized dimple in the turf.
I was just in time for the indigo universe with a deepening orange horizon and a new crescent moon in the pale apricot interval between.
It was quite hot work, so I was really warm to start with, then with the beautiful clear sky and stars making me think I was seeing double, it got rather cold.
It is a bit of a tight fit in the bag-in-a-bag as well as my luxury self-inflating mat, so turning over has a couple of snags…. everything gets twisted around until you are in such a tangle you can’t move and secondly, a bit like being in a bath that went cold because of dozing off, as soon as you move to try and get a bit more comfortable (or in less of a tangle) the cold bits are much more noticeable.
The hood of the bivvie bag is very generous, so it kept slipping over my eyes, and by about 3am there was a surprising build up of condensation between the outside of my sleeping bag and the inside of the outer bag.
There is something so magical about seeing the Milky Way and feeling the cool air and being completely quiet and out in the middle of the night that none of these little discomforts can dent the experience.
A big bat sped past.
After a wonderful dawn chorus around 4am I fell into a peaceful slumber and woke up with my head on a rock around 7am.
My daughter gives me a look when she hears about these addictive exploits and says things like ” you ARE one of life’s enthusiasts Mum” which ordinarily I would take as a compliment, but somehow I get the slight feeling that I’m being told off! She laughed like a drain later, when I told her about this one.
Then I had the best idea of the whole day. Why ride back down to Buckfastleigh on the road when I could stay on the moor and follow the Abbot’s way?
Years and years ago on a road bike and with a group of keen CTC folk I had come this way and we had swooped down into the town having had an exhilarating off road ride. I had had the sense to bring my compass and OS map, so even with my dreadful sense of direction I was hopeful I could get across to Cross Furzes without getting too lost.
I did nearly go due East instead of due North to start with, simply because the obvious path looked so wrong compared to the impossible one that felt right. Thank goodness I didn’t argue with the compass this time. Also, mist had quickly started to obscure the hills over to the West so I didn’t want to hang around for too long. And then after just a bit more pushing and heaving I was over the crest and onto a lovely wide downhill turf path. One or two little rocky corners and gates/swamps/roots/boulders to negotiate and then at the last gate a special group of famous old beech trees whose roots are tangled mossily together and have been such a favourite landmark since my children were little.
A couple of huge slabs laid across the stream and then a last stony steep few hundred yards at a gasp and back out onto the lane with a couple of miles of grinning downhill to chill off.
I was in Buckfast Abbey in time for coffee and a croissant in the refectory and today began.
Art-class friends together later on, in another stunningly beautiful setting near Lustleigh. Donkeys, an incredible abundance of flowers and shrubs of every kind and ponds with classic coy carp. A delicious shared meal and by lunchtime, real July summer heat, with views 20 or more miles through the Teign valley and out to sea. Thank you so much Annemarie. I don’t know how you keep up with all those pots!
I’m back in my hut now and it has just rolled into tomorrow.
Could we have this summer for just a bit longer and maybe even again next year please?