In late September, Emily Woodhouse walked all of Dartmoor’s tors, raising money for Mountain Rescue.

You may have heard of Dartmoor’s Ten Tors Challenge, but in September 2018 Emily Woodhouse set out to complete a continuous walk over all of Dartmoor’s tors – with the mission of raising funds for vital kit for Dartmoor Search and Rescue (Tavistock team). And just how many tors are there on Dartmoor anyway?

UPDATE: read the full story of Emily’s adventure at her blog here.

A few facts about Emily’s route:

  • Tors climbed: 119
  • Distance walked: 300km
  • Time spent: 10 days

We got in touch to find out more.

1. Please introduce yourself. Who are you and what do you do?

“My name is Emily Woodhouse. Who I am is best summed up in my motto: Be Yourself – Know Yourself – Challenge Expectations. What do I do? Lots – too much perhaps! I get paid to be a Marketing Analyst, but I’m also an adventurer, writer, the editor of Intrepid Magazine, in Mountain Rescue… At least I’m always busy!”

2. Tell us about your All the Tors challenge. What’s the background, and what did you hope to achieve with your fundraising?

“Walking all the tors on Dartmoor in one go has been brewing in the back of my mind for a long time. I did Ten Tors four years running as a teenager and once you’ve done 10, you can’t help but wonder if it’s possible to do all of them… At least if you’re me you can’t!

“I’m a member of Dartmoor Search and Rescue. I’ve been involved with the Tavistock team for almost three years now and I’m currently the Treasurer. As this year marked me turning 25 and Dartmoor Rescue turning 50, it felt like a good occasion to make a big Dartmoor challenge happen.

Dartmoor Search and Rescue (Tavistock team)
© Josephine Collingwood

“In particular, I knew first hand that our team waterproofs were wearing out from long years of overuse – we rarely get called out when the weather’s sunny! Being the treasurer too, I was acutely aware of how expensive re-kitting a team of almost 50 with good waterproof jackets is. That’s why I decided to try to raise £5,000 towards new waterproof jackets for the team.”

3. What role has Dartmoor played in your development as a hillwalking and outdoors enthusiast? Why is the area special to you?

“I love Dartmoor. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up with it as my back garden and it is really where it all began for me in the outdoors. Whilst I was on the challenge, I realised that so much of what Dartmoor is to me has been shaped by the people I’ve known on it – by the experiences I’ve had. Every square is thick in memories.”

Read more here:

4. We’ve heard that the number of tors in Dartmoor is a contentious issue. How did you decide which 119 tors to include in your route?

“It’s only contentious amongst tor bagger or Dartmoor nerds. I am honoured to hold a few of these people as friends, so I felt I needed a disclaimer! If you look at the Wikipedia page for Dartmoor tors list, there are well over 300. That’s because there are loads of locally named rocks that never made it on to the map (some – I would argue – for good reason). If I were going to walk all the tors, I would have to draw a line at what a tor was, or it would have taken me several years.

“The biggest surprise was the weather. I knew the forecast was rough – the tail end of a hurricane, followed by another storm, but the reality of living it was something else”

Down Tor
© Emily Woodhouse

Sunshine at last
© Emily Woodhouse

“I decided to include everything called Something ‘space’ Tor on the OL28 1:25k Dartmoor map. Out of those, I only included ones in the Open Access Area (no trespassing!) and only ones in the connected component of Open Access that makes up Dartmoor National Park – so I didn’t have to walk for miles on main roads to bag tors in obscure pockets of access land.

“That left me with 119 tors. From there, it was just a case of making a sensible, circular route out of them.”

5. Any surprises or pitfalls along the way?

“Where on earth to being with this! The biggest surprise was the weather. I knew the forecast was rough – the tail end of a hurricane, followed by another storm, but the reality of living it was something else. In particular, I’d never imagined that I’d have difficulty finding some of the tors! Of course, I know just how poor visibility can get on Dartmoor and how quickly the weather can change, but I hadn’t imagined needing to pace the nice easy ridge routes I’d planned…

Wet, bedgraggled, windswept – but still smiling
© Emily Woodhouse

“Lows:

  • “Crawling into my tent at the end of day 2, having counted every step of the 30km I’d walked that day, from 9am to 6pm. All I wanted was for someone to tell me the fog would clear in the morning. It didn’t.
  • “Having to wade through head-high bracken and gorse, then crawl under trees with a 60L rucksack on to get to Luckey Tor.
  • “Walking all the way up the East Dart to try to find a crossing point, until I was almost at the range poles (which they were firing behind). Then having to walk all the way back into Postbridge to get around.
  • “Being chased by a bull below Watern Tor and then imagining cows coming out of the mist on my most exhausted days.

“Highs:

  • “The sun finally coming out – even with a strong headwind, I was just elated to be able to see again.
  • “The satisfaction of having spent nine nights on the moor and without any trace I’ve ever been there, except a small impression in the grass from my tent. I have been completely self sufficient, carried all my food, camped in legal places, taken all my rubbish home. I left the moor as I found it. But it didn’t leave me unchanged. What is it they say? Leave only footprints, take only memories.”

17 out of 199
© Emily Woodhouse

6. How can our readers support you?

“At the start of this challenge, I set out to try to raise £5000 towards new waterproof jackets for my Dartmoor Rescue team. The team is almost 50 members strong and, as I’m sure your readers know, a sturdy waterproof jacket costs upwards of £100. If you believe that rescue teams shouldn’t be soaking wet whilst they’re saving lives, then please help us out at: www.justgiving.com/all-the-tors-challenge.

“Links to all my content relating to the challenge can be found on www.travellinglines.com/portfolio/all-the-tors-challenge.”