As you well know, the hapless duo of Summit or Nothing have parted ways. Nath has decided that the heady heights of YouTube fame are not for him, and so he has bowed out from the Channel for now. Maybe one day, the big fella will join us for the odd outing here and there, but for the foreseeable future, I am going to carry on the Summit or Nothing flag on my own and with the occasional collaboration with others.
To start the new improved Summit or Nothing ball rolling, I met up with fellow YouTuber Thom from Off The Beaten Pot for a spot of hiking, wild camping and Trangia cooked meals on the trail. After seeing Thom’s video on how to cook a roast dinner with a Trangia, I had decided that this was definitely something that I wanted to explore more of. I was getting a little bored with boil in the bag meals, and although the jet boil zip had done me proud, it's frustrating all or nothing method of heating that either spewed hot water out all over the place or would shut off completely was beginning to wear thin. So, a meet up with Thom was set up.
We had spoken via email in preparation, and Thom had sent a variety of food options for me to choose. Then I selected a spot of the moor I hadn’t yet explored and we set a date. In the week leading up to the outing, we both kept an eye on the weather. Saturday nights forecast (as read on the Monday morning prior) was high winds, but as the week progressed the winds disappeared from the forecast, so the meet was going ahead.
This week’s Dartmoor Hiking Route started at Cadover Bridge, near Yelverton, and at a little before noon Thom and I met for the first time. The route was another suggestion from Dartmoor Tor Bagger Max, and also a route in John Earles Walking on Dartmoor book, rolled into one, with our input too along the way. We were due to embark on two days hiking and plenty of cooking along the way. Thom supplied the ingredients and handed me mine along with a Trangia mini cook set for me to cook my own meals. After a little chit-cha,t we set out on our journey.
The opening sequence was filmed, and as we entered the moor I stopped and set up the tripod for various shots, revealing two things to Thom. 1) how much thought I put into each video and 2) how much additional walking to and from cameras was involved. He didn’t seem to mind too much, either that or he was too polite to say. The views along the way were fantastic. As well as being able to see much of the Gutter Tor and Sheepstor areas that Nath and I had already explored, the route also worked alongside a vast clay pit.
Conversation flowed easily between us both as we made our way across the moors and took in our first tor’s of the day, Trowlsworthy Tor’s, Little and Great. Thom joined me for a Summit or Nothing war cry from the summit. And then we headed over to Hen Tor where we stopped for our first meal of the day.
Trangia cooked Chilli and Chorizo Calzone Pizza’s. This was the first fresh cooked meal I had ever eaten on the trail, and it didn’t disappoint. Hot food on the trail tastes so much better when you have prepared it yourself. After a good eat and a drop of Ginger bread coffee (a surprisingly tasty mix – and a happy accident on Thom’s behalf) we gathered our bits together, took a baring and set off to an unnamed trig point. At this point, my map (now getting on for three years of constant abuse) decided to give up, and split apart when I was trying to reorganize it. Thom had an active map (a sturdier water proof copy covered in a light durable plastic) and so that became our main map for the day.
It was a lengthy featureless climb to the trig point, and although there was a lot of water around, for the most part the ground was surprisingly firm for Dartmoor, and the trig point was surrounded by a moat of water, so we didn’t even get to touch it for luck. And from here we headed south-west towards Shell Top. Shell Top was a small rocky outcrop, with stunning views of the quarry.
From here we made it over to Penn Beacon, stopping for what seemed like an age to chat to a fellow hiker who tried fruitlessly to recall the name of a location he recommended we visit. After five to ten minutes he gave up and we parted ways. By the time we reached the Cairn at Penn Beacon, the rain was setting in, and so, as it was late in the day we thought it was a great time to find a spot to set up camp.
I was back out in the Naturehike Cloud Up 2, and Thom was about to embark on his maiden voyage on his own MSR Elixir 1 man tent, a cool looking tent that weighed a little more than my Naturehike, but still had me secretly envious. I also had with me the DD Hammocks 3x3 Superlight Tarp shelter, which I was to set up between our tents as a bit of a cooking / social area. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite recall how to put the bloody thing up, and after a lot of effing and jeffing, Thom suggested we take a break for a minute to find water at a nearby spring, so with Sawyer Mini Water Filters in hand, that is what we did. When we returned, the sun was setting, and we sat in the tranquil still air on the side of the hill for a while.
Thom tried my homemade high energy hiking flapjacks, we had a coffee, and then I quickly watched a tutorial video that helped me to pitch the tarp. As the sun disappeared, we met inside our social area for our next meal, a delicious Spinach and Coconut Dahl with Trangia cook Bannock bread. The prep for this had been done by Thom at home, and we literally just added water and heated on the Trangia’s. The bread was messy affair but once again, both meals hit the spot after a long days hiking on the moor.
We ate and we chatted. I made a complete dick of myself when I failed to grasp a joke that even an infant would get in seconds and after a tot of rum, we parted ways and climbed inside our own tents ready for the night of wild camping ahead. I set my inflatable floor mat up, only to find that it had a punctured at some point since my last outing, and kept deflating; a minor inconvenience as I still had my Thermarest Ridgerest as a secondary floormat.
Not long after the punctured floor mat revelation, Thom hollerred across to me asking if I had seen the weather recently. At some point over our day, those high winds that had disappeared from the weather apps throughout the week were back with a vengence. We were set to be hit by South Westerly winds of up to 60mph, which was ideal really as we were pitched towards the top of the south western side of Penn Beacon.
The night was relentless, and the winds picked up pace as the hours ticked slowly passed. I barely slept, and the inside of my tent resemble the cabin of a little boat getting rocked on stormy waters. The wind was hitting the Cloud Up 2 side on, and being sail like in design, which meant that before long the wall was pressing in on me. As dawn approached, the wind moved again and hit me from behind. The freestanding structure was pinned down, my tent resembled an old lame dog dragging its back legs behind it.
Also, throughout the night one of my major concerns was that the tarp, standing empty, was going to take off and get lost across the moor. I kept listening out for it, and when it fell silent I assumed the worst. By 5am enough was enough and we decided to pack up camp and cut our outing short. I was relieved to see that the tarp was still there, albeit collapsed. Thom managed to make coffees, despite the wind, whilst I packed my belongings.
Together, we helped each other pack the tents up, one pinning the tent down whilst the other folded and rolled. Whilst taking his own tent down, Thom was absolutely gutted to find that his brand new tent poles were bent and buckled – a surprising result considering the Naturehike kept springing back to life in between gusts. A surprising result that I was secretly smug about. The budget Naturehike tent had outlived the higher priced MSR. (However, the good folks at MSR promptly replaced Thom’s poles and even sent him a spare set – so good on you MSR).
We found our way back to the car, the cold wind in our faces all the way, and we visited some stone rows along the way, following the river, until we B-lined straight across some precarious marshland back to the car for the final stint. We survived the night, but I didn’t get to try the other culinary delights that Thom had to offer for the second day. But, we had hit it off and I am sure that we will soon be back out again for more collaborative hiking, cooking and wild camping!
You can watch the video here!
the products we used during this outing...
Hiking and Orientation