WeCycle is a guided wild camping experience on Dartmoor
You’ve always wanted to go wild camping, but lacked the confidence, or perhaps the skills to do so, right? This is your solution: a gentle introduction to wild-camping, with guidance and assistance on hand. Perhaps you have the skills to do wild-camping, but lack the confidence to do so all on your own? You’d be more than welcome! Wild-camping is not legal in almost all of England and Wales, but is legal on many parts of Dartmoor, and is certainly legal where we’ll be heading.
We will meet in Ivybridge, on the edge of Dartmoor (easily reachable by train from Plymouth). Our meeting point is indoors, and we will focus on the luggage on our bikes. That will mean potentially emptying your panniers, then repacking them. This is not a pointless exercise, but rather to teach you the value of having a set order to packing, and helping to ensure things you may need in a hurry remain readily to hand.
No shame in getting off to push
Once everyone’s luggage is sorted, and back on their bikes, we’ll set off. The first mile of the route is on tar, and is steeply uphill almost from the start. Soon enough we’ll leave the tar behind, to follow a dirt track. I fully expect you’ll be getting off your bike and pushing up that dirt track, as it’s steep. The surface is made up of many loose stones, varying in size from pebbles, to fist-sized, and even head-sized rocks. Unless you’re an extremely strong and talented rider, you’ll be better off pushing your bike up there, along with the rest of us.
Importantly, this is not a macho ride! This ride will be going at the pace of the slowest rider, and we will ride as a group (depending on numbers) with nobody left behind. We will stop often – to admire the view, of course! 😉
Seriously, though there are challenging segments to this ride, it’s meant to be fun, and not a punishment. The ethos of this ride is to be supportive, equip you with the skills to enjoy the experience, and to allow you to enjoy it. If you were looking for a gruelling off-road race, then this ride is not for you.
Once we reach open moorland, we can cycle again, and though there will be a fair bit more climbing to do, the gradient will level out. The surface we cycle on will change from grass to gravel, and we’ll reach our destination after around an hour’s cycling. You will be rewarded with spectacular views, sometimes out to the English Channel, others times deep into Cornwall. Dartmoor is hauntingly beautiful, as you will discover for yourself.
Cycling through the Bronze Age
The landscape through which you’ll be riding is ancient, as you will soon find out. There are hut circles dating back to between 3 000 and 4 000 years ago, and when we finally arrive at our destination, we’ll be close to the longest row of ancient standing stones in the world.
Our destination is delightful, offering far more than simply a nearby Bronze Age village, but also an excellent spot to do some wild swimming, so bring some swimwear with, as well as some footwear you’re happy to wear in the water. On a scorching hot summers day you’ll be glad of the opportunity to cool down, and wash the sweat off. Having said that, to underline the importance of shelter, we will pitch our tents as the first task when we reach our camping site. Part of that will include learning to evaluate the terrain, to help you avoid pitching your tent in a great spot when dry, but which becomes a swamp as soon as it rains.
Dinner is served…
You will be preparing your own evening meal, using your own camping cooking gear, and of course I’ll be on-hand to help you use it, and also to help you pitch your tent, if needed. I won’t do everything for you – this is meant to be an experience that builds your confidence to do more cycle camping on your own, so it’s important that you do as much as you can by yourself.
You will be required to carry at least two litres of water when we set off. That is not a lot of water, especially on a hot day, so you will need to ration your water accordingly. If you can carry more water, I’d strongly encourage you to do so, but of course every litre of water adds an additional kilogram of weight you’ll have to drag uphill. Remember, you will need water for cooking, and drinking. Unless you carry a water-purification tablets (which typically leaves water smelling and tasting like swimming pool water!) you should treat all water on Dartmoor as unfit for drinking. Remember, you have no way of knowing if the water in that crystal-clear brook was washing over a decomposing dead sheep just half a mile upstream!
We will spend some time looking at using a map and compass (and of course, you’d be free to decline doing this) and we’ll have a chance to do some swimming, lazing in the sun (Dartmoor weather is unpredictable, and I can’t guarantee sunshine) or exploring the local vicinity.
Soon enough it will start getting dark, which brings another special treat: provided it’s not overcast, stargazing on Dartmoor will make it seem like the stars are almost within touching distance. You are expected to bring a decent torch, and ideally also a head torch. We will not be making any fires! That goes directly against the Leave No Trace principle. Any cooking will be done on camping stoves, and I’ll take along some fairy lights to provide at least some ambient light around the camp site. You’ll also have an opportunity to go wild-swimming at night.
After a night under canvas, we’ll have a leisurely start to the day. Again, you’ll have to prepare your own breakfast, but I’ll be making coffee for everyone, if you drink coffee. After breakfast, we’ll take our tents down, and at least partly pack up. There will be some more time for exploring, or swimming, and by around mid-day we’ll pack up completely. A final sweep of the site will follow, during which we’ll pick up any rubbish we find (even if it’s not ours) and then it will be time to cycle back. We should be back in Ivybridge in about two hours.
What you will need
You will need:
– Your own camping gear
– The ability to carry all that securely, over at times very rough terrain. I rely on panniers
– A bike that can cope with the terrain. Mine is a gravel bike, with road tyres, and it copes fine
– The ability to carry at least 2 litres of water, ideally more
– Your own food for an evening meal, snacks, and breakfast
– A sense of adventure
PLEASE NOTE: Short of a storm, the ride will go ahead regardless of weather. If it’s raining, it will simply add to the adventure. If you cancel your booking more than a month before the ride, I will give you a full refund. If you cancel with less than a month to go, but more than two weeks before the ride, I’ll refund you 50%. If you cancel with less than two weeks notice, I’m afraid there won’t be any refunds.
If a storm forces me to postpone, I will offer you the choice of accepting the new dates, or receiving a full refund.
You will be doing this ride entirely at your own risk. I will do everything I can to make it as safe as possible, while keeping it an adventure, but you accept you may fall off your bike, or trip over something and fall, get bitten by a horsefly, or any of a million other mishaps may occur. Any injuries you sustain you alone are liable for, and you accept that this adds to the adventure, rather than subtracts from it.
Please Note: The dates are listed below
After you booked your place, I will email you to confirm which date you prefer.
17 & 18 June 2023
1 & 2 July 2023
5 & 6 August 2023
2 & 3 September 2023
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