Butterdon to Butterdon Challenge
It was with a little trepidation we started our final plans for the challenge.
The biggest concern for us was the weather; the forecasts were indicating that it was going to be hot and sunny, which is all very well for visitors to Dartmoor, but we wanted it cool so that the animals could travel without overheating.
Friday dawned warm and cloudy and ideal for the start of the journey. Our companion and his ponies had arrived the night before so once all the horses were at the woods we began to load and pack them ready for the trip.
The star of the whole weekend has to be Pippin, who, unbacked and untried took to being a pack pony like a duck to water. We decided on the order of travel, front man, Trelawny as lead horse, Pippin, walkers and dogs, then Sam with Billy, Ebony and Jasmine (the 3 Dartmoor pack ponies) and our back markers.
Unfortunately we were let down at the last moment by our support vehicle but we agreed that for the first day we could probably manage without. Then the radios packed up as well…. so hand signals and communication down the line proved to be the most effective method of keeping everyone informed of other road users and potential problems.
Our trip into Chagford was fairly slow as the pack ponies pack saddles were repeatedly adjusted and tightened so that they didn’t slip, but we made this moorland town in good time and stopped to water the animals and ourselves before heading on to Fernworthy reservoir.