Belstone Blast weekend.
Big weekends start here. From this point onwards the race season starts. My blog last week reported the S.W champs Caddihoe chase that my club WSX held at Agglestone and Rempstone, for me more of a work event than an out and out race. Now this weekend 08/09 October is hosted by the Devon and Quantocks clubs, with the Monday event first of the Wessex Night league at home in Bournemouth Kings and Queens making a dedicated 3 day competition for me. I love Belstone and the ridge having spent a summer in the area 2005 as a junior instructor at Okehampton Adventure Centre. Lived in the tent for three months and worked on a milkround to fund activities and exploring. Belstone also features in a fantastic and rather sad film called the Belstone Fox which is a 1970’s story of the outdoors that I loved as a child. Dartmoors Northern half contains all the heads of rivers that feed into the Devon coast, emerging at the Cranmere pool area, the inspiration behind ‘Grimpen Pond’ of the Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. You can also find one of the first ‘Letterboxes’ here which is another unique feature of the Moor and its activities. Last time I was at Sticklepath for a MTBO race in April which turned out to be a typical wet event where the moor threw its best elements at you in a fantastic test of endurance. The Caddihoe chase in 2015 was held around Fernworthy forest which is where we edged onto for day two.
Day one. Choices of the Belstone Blast were long, long or long, no really they were either a linear short medium or long, or 1,2,3 hours score. My course was a selection of control points from the other score events, 6.1 k.m distance. Leaving the village onto the hill we headed out onto the Belstone ridge with the great views that holds, crossed down over the East Okement river that winds it way down into Okehampton and up onto the edge of Scarey Tor. When you stand at Antonys stile in the north looking south at this area the three Tors:- Rowtor, West Mill Tor and Yes Tor/ High Willhays (highest point on Dartmoor) are lined up next to each other in height order, one of my favourite views in the world. Anthonys stile is also where the famous Ten Tors race starts from at the old Military camp, a place on the edge of the moor where we used to lead school groups during my Okehampton time, can clearly remember being with a group on the hill in thick mist and no visibility with the children all repeatedly saying “we’re lost sir, aren’t we we’re lost…..” me 100% sure of my route and loving putting them way out of their comfort zone, happy days. Sorry I digressed back to the race. Lots of clitter, steep slopes and fantastic terrain-the whole reason I started Orienteering. Moving fast over rough ground was something I loved to do before I’d ever seen a proper O map, epitome of heaven for me. As it turned out my competitor on day one was Mark Burley from Bristol, an M21 runner whom I knew would smash me. He came back in 45.01 compared to my 52.10 only giving me the satisfaction of beating him on perhaps the hardest leg 7-8 contouring over the clitter for a kilometre in 7.29 Minutes. Fabulous day on the hill and just the preparation I wanted for day two.
Day Two- 23.3 km course measured on the map distance, more like 27 km of actual movement over 262.04 minutes. Not a parkrun, not a charity run, not a ramble. If you know what this place is like you know. Results
Day Three. Night league! Back to Kings and Queens Bournemouth for the weekend finale for me. Came 6/ 39. Measured at 9.2 KM over a 60 minute score event. These events are generally about 10km so if youre up for it, come and try out the best way to hone your navigation, because if you can navigate in the dark- you can navigate anywhere. thanks to @marklucylockett and Michelle Spiller for the pictures, and Quantock and Devon Orienteering clubs for the Events.