A Foxy Fur Tor

On June 15th myself and five others set off from two locations on Dartmoor. We were all heading to Fur Tor for an overnight camp to celebrate Jasons birthday.

Jason, Robin, Mole and myself set off from Postbridge while Paul and Matt set off from Princetown.

The weather was supposed to be fine with light showers with heavier rain due overnight around midnight.

The walk to Fur Tor is relatively easy from Postbridge, this was ideal for me, being the first time I had walked overland since being told I had fractured two metatarsals on day one the the TGO…..

East Dart Waterfall, just before Sandy Hole Pass

The waterfalls, seen above and below are one of the reasons I enjoy this route so much. They are around a third of the way into the walk and when the weather is nice, a great place to stop for lunch or a cuppa.

I always end up taking pictures or video here, with the flow of the water always changing, time after time.

We sat and had a quick bite to eat and a swig of water (and wine) and then set off again.

Robin and Jason took a slightly higher route cutting out Sandy Hole Pass whilst Mole and I went through the pass, spotting my first adder of the year.

From Sandy Hole Pass is very simple navigation, following MOD range posts to Cut hill and then dropping down a little before a steady climb to the top of Fur Tor.

Fur Tor itself is one of my favorite places to camp on Dartmoor, the views are stunning and being the most remote Tor on Dartmoor, its rare you ever see anyone. Last year I spend some 20 or so nights on the Tor, enjoying the views on solo camps and some with small to medium groups.

On arrival, we found the Paul and Matt had beaten us and already pitched. We said our hello’s and soon pitched up just before a small shower blew through.

I took a new shelter to me, a GoLite SL3, Jason took his trusty Luxe Hexpeak, Robin an MLD Cricket, Matt an MLD cuben Duomid, Mole a Tarptent Notch and Paul a Six Moons Luna Solo.

The SL3 is the largest shelter I own and the room inside was amazing. I took a 3FUL solo mesh inner with me and as the events of the night would unfold I was glad I have decided on this inner and not one of my more expensive ones.

As it was a special camp, celebrating Jays Birthday. I decided to take real food with me and not eat out of a packet for a change.

For dinner, I took steak, mushrooms and onions, garlic mash and for breakfast, I took some flat breads and bacon.

Anyone that knows me will know that me using gas is a rare thing. I have owned this stove for quite a while and probably only used it twice. Paired with the Trangia frying pan it was short work of the massive steak.

As we cooked dinner, we were joined by a familiar face. Richard had walked from Meldon to join us for the evening. He soon pitched and after dinner, we were all gathered around the tor drinking many fine whiskeys and wine.

I took just over half a bottle of a 30 year old Glenfiddich which was extremely smooth and went down extremely well. Very very smooth with a subtle malty almost chocolatey taste.

This was the point in the evening that things took a turn….

We had all stood around talking when one of us noticed a fox walking toward us and stopping only a few feet away before it darted off. None of us thought anything of it, we had all seen fox’s up there before and never has an issue.

About an hour or so after we first saw the fox, people started to head to bed. Jay and I stayed up, finished off the whisky and had a coffee. It was then, whilst making the coffee that I noticed things were missing from my tent.

My food bag had gone along with other items of gear. Now the food that was inside the food bag was inside two separate ziplock bags, inside a large zip lock and inside a carrier bag, separating meats from other foods. All of this was inside a cuben fiber packing cell….. It had gone. We had a quick look around and then noticed the fox was entering tents all around the tor.

As well as food, I had other gear inside this packing cube. I will list my lost gear below…

Packs, shoes and other gear had been pulled out of tents, luckily we noticed and chased the fox off before it made off with the gear.

During the night, the fox did not let up one bit. At around 0100 I woke to a ripping noise and found a small hole had been torn in my inner net. I turned on my head lamp and the fox was stood behind my inner and dashed off when I shouted at it.

I had a look around and noticed that it had tried to get my frying pan and plate which were inside a sealed bag. I placed the bag under my legs and sleeping pad, I could not do anything about the rip in the inner and though that now I had scared the fox off it would not come back…….. How wrong was I!

Around an hour later, I again woke to a ripping noise and when I turned my lamp on found the fox’s head and two front legs inside my inner and it was tugging at my waterproof jacket. Thankfully I grabbed it in time before it made off with it. It was then I noticed that another of my cuben packing cells had been dragged through the hole and that my frying pan and plate were gone.

Throughout the night, the fox tried it no in most of the others tents too. What it was taking was random, shoes, bags, coats, waterproof trousers ect.

After the fox had come in my tent for the second time I didnt really sleep much thinking it would likely come back and have another go… It did, time and time again.

Jay could be heard through the night shouting at the fox and telling people its either coming in their tent or directly outside.

I must have nodded off again at some point as I woke up the very heavy rain and the SL3’s vent flapping and slapping in the wind.

I heard voices outside so made a coffee and went to say good morning to everyone. This is when the full extent of the night unfolded.

The fox had ripped into Moles inner tent, taken his shoes, water bladder and attempted to take other things from inside the inner tent. It had tried to drag Matts pack away in the night and also made off with Jays entire Trangia cook kit. Richard had also woken in the night and heard sniffing and then noticed that the windshield for his cookset had gone.

After having a couple of coffees and between heavy showers, Jay and I managed to bits of our kit that had been deposited anything from a few feet to several hundreds of feet away. All the gear we recovered was to the east of the tor.

As the fox had made off with my food bag, I was left with a nut and chocolate mix for breakfast and a snickers bar. Thankfully I had had a big dinner and was not overly hungry…

Whilst packing away I made note of the gear I was missing and had not recovered which included;

  • Cuben Packing Cell
  • Extremitis Mitts
  • Montane Prism Gloves
  • Montane Buff
  • Titanium Spoon
  • Filter Coffee and my Filte

A few other small bits were not recovered but can be easily replaced, however the fox had made off with over £100 of my gear (crying emoji)

After packing away, we had a final sweep of the area. None of us like the little or leave anything behind so we wanted to make sure if it was there we reclaimed it.

The walk back was a little wetter underfoot that the way up. We had had a lot of rain fall overnight and during the morning.

At the bottom of the range posts, below Cut Hill, Paul and Matt said goodbye and headed off back towards Princetown and the rest of us towards Postbridge. The walk back was warm with a few showers.

Due to the fox incident we decided to leave Fur Tor for a while when it comes to camping and posted up on local social media to make others aware.

I also spoke to a friend who is a vet and they explained the fox was probably protecting young or den making. Natural protective or territorial behaviour.

Unfortunately, the posts we put up on Facebook and other social media attracted the wrong kind of attention and response.

A BBC reporter, who used the name Johnny Morris started fishing for details about the incident and when one of the guys spoke to him on the phone it became obvious he was trying to spin the story in to a ‘Killer Fox’ one and make out that the fox was a danger to children and humans. We all made it very clear that none of us wanted any part of this and made the point that our posts were made on a closed Facebook group and that we do not permit him or anyone from the BBC or other so-called news organization to use our information, pictures or names in any such article written or produced.

The reporter and another BBC employee who tried to join the closed group after this have since been removed from the group and banned.

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