Our next goal was "Grey Wethers" a pair of Bronze Age stone circles, and we aimed to get there as it got dimpsy (dusk), have our picnic and walk back in the dark (you don’t have to be Blonde to do this stuff, but it helps). Grey Wethers is set in a wild and desolate spot in the shadows of Sittaford Tor and it was a struggle to get there across the water logged moor. There was a lot of tussock balancing - a skill you have to develop quickly if you want to get off track on Dartmoor.
As the sun set, and we approached the stones, both of us fell into a rather strange mood. Dartmoor is a mysterious place; it would be a very poor imagination that didn't start murmuring at the sight of circles of dark, neatly placed stones appearing on the ridge of a very lonely hill. I think the precarious nature of our situation hit us both at that moment. It had taken us two hours to walk in because the moor was so waterlogged and we were two girls out alone on the North Moor with about half an hour of torch free map reading left. We didn’t feel inclined to stop for sandwiches as planned.
I was in charge of navigation, as this was the final training opportunity for my WGL night navigation reassessment (passed later that week) I elected for a different route back to the car. This was a risky strategy as the terrain could have turned out to be even worse; but the new route did mean that we could follow the edge of Fernworthy Forest South for most of the way. Neither of us particularly wanted to be near the forest in the dark. What looks like a friendly sheltered patch in the daylight, appears much more forbidding as darkness falls; and as we cut across to the forest the trees became bigger, darker and quite fierce looking.
There was a big stream gully across our route, and we decided to cross it before it got too steep, about 250m away from the forest. It was at this stream crossing point that we agreed to put our head torches on. Deciding exactly when to do this can be tricky; because as soon as your torch is on the world around you becomes darker and you lose the depth of vision that you previously had. It was the right decision however, as the stream, although small, was deep and surrounded by a lot of wobbly surfaces. We were so relieved to be across that we stopped and ate our sandwiches on the far side.