Dartmoor hikes on winter days
Guy and Basil have been enjoying a week in Dartmoor. They’ve been staying at the perfect location for winter walks, Lower Hookner Farm.. Their week has been rather wet and windy but they’ve still managed some good walks and even had some glorious, short sunny breaks in the weather.
Dartmoor is known for its rugged terrain, exposed moorland, and unpredictable weather. Winter walking here can be beautiful, but it's important to be prepared.
What’s Guy got in his bag?
- Hat (to cover his ears too)
- Gloves (waterproof)
- Extra layer (at least!)
- Buff (worn around the neck or as a hat to stop hair flapping about)
- Flask of warm stuff (tipple of Guy's choice is coffee)
- Spare battery
- Waterproof everything!
- Hard boiled eggs in pockets (thank you Bex Mountford and Rob Warner. Great hand warmer picnic tip!)
- Head torch (especially for short winter days)
- Basil food (although he prefers cheese to dog food)
- Solo Thermal PACMAT (blue, his favourite colour)
Guy also carries a Vango Pico Single pole to help steady himself on rough ground, and give his leg some support after a recent fall off his bike. It's a sturdy, light trekking pole for support and stability. Made from robust lightweight aluminium with a comfortable foam handle. It’s adjustable too so good for Guy, or me : )
Also pictured here is The Vango Magma Flask 750ml is great for a winter warmer coffee (or tea). It really does keep it warm.
And the Signature Solo Thermal PACMAT provides a dry place to sit to enjoy the coffee. The thinsulate layer is great on winter days, keeping the chill off for a little bit longer. It's light at 235g and rolls down well to fit in the pocket of the front pocket of the rucksack. (See our Dartmoor Family PACMAT too).
All of this packs up nicely into the Vango Apex Air 40
This rucksack is great for winter walking, with plenty of room for everything needed and a lot of snacks! It’s made from Excel 200D Ripstop fabric making it light and durable, weighing only 1060grams. The ventilated back system works well, not that Guy’s needed it on this trip. And the outer pocket on the front is really good for dog coats and PACMATs - if they get damp and muddy (very likely in Dartmoor in the winter). It’s good to have external capacity. The rain cover came in very handy and with it’s reflective print was good for walking at dusk and in poor vis.
Here's just one of their ciruclar walks from the week…
Guy and Basil set off from the farm, up the fields towards Kings Tor, traversed across to a picnic spot by the brook then walked up to Hookney Tor, looking down on Grimspound before heading up to the trig point on Hameldown. Then down to Natsworthy and along the valley through Heathercombe.
Trig point, Hameldown
Picnic spot by the brook, always relaxing.
Winter on Dartmoor can be quite magical but before heading out on the moor make sure you're ready and equipped:
Check the weather conditions
Dartmoor's weather can change rapidly. Check the forecast before heading out.
Pay attention to wind speeds, precipitation and temperature fluctuations.
Dress in layers
Wear thermal layers to trap warmth close to your body
A windproof layer will make a huge difference especially when you stop for a snack
You're bound to need a waterproof at some point (I use waterproof trousers, even if it's not raining, to keep the wind out on winter days)
A hat, gloves and neck scarf (buff) make a huge differnece when it gets chilly.
Sturdy, water-poof hiking boots for wet and muddy terrain
Gaiters are useful to stop water and mud from sneaking into the top of your boots
My boots actually have a small tear in them so I wear waterproof socks which seem to do the trick and are surprisingly comfortable.
Dartmoor can be challenging to navigate, especially in poor visability so carry a map and compass and know how to use them
A smartphone, spare battery and OutDoors GB works for us.
Winter days are short. We always take a head torch with us in case. But remember, when it gets dark it gets colder too.
Snacks, headtorch, extra batteries, layers and a small first aid kit.
If you're in the Widecombe area Cafe on the Green has some amazing food for picnics and they also stock our PACMATs :)
Tell someone your plans
Make sure someone knows where you're going so if you are late back they know where to start looking.
Be prepared for tough conditions
Dartmoor can be challenging with difficult terrain, boggy areas and harsh conditions, so be prepared. Make sure you're physically prepared. Winter walking conditions can make even moderate walks more demanding.
Respect the environment and wildlife
Be calm around animals, don't feed them, always leave gates as you found them and 'Leave No Trace'.
PACMAT stockists in the Dartmoor area: