Gilbert’s Big Belstone Tor Challenge

Laura White
Laura White
The North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team celebrate with Gilbert and Jane at the top of the Tor – Photographs © Chris Saville

Gilbert (Gilby’) and Jane Taylor were lifelong hillwalkers, until Multiple Sclerosis cruelly put an end to Gilby’s wanderings.

They moved to beautiful Belstone, but from their garden there is a tantalising and taunting view of the pyramid of Belstone Tor.

No hillwalker could look at that hill without a yearning to conquer it and Gilby often wondered what the view would be like from the top. But getting to the top was out of the question for Gilby until a chance conversation in The Tors, the local pub occurred: “I know someone from the rescue team.” A meeting was set up and plans were hatched.
On Saturday, 4th September, Gilby rode his all-terrain mobility scooter as close to the tor as he could, to Nine Maidens Stone Circle.

Then the North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team, based in Okehampton, carefully transferred him to a Land Rover.

This was not the usual red and white rescue vehicle, that would have been much too rough, but a brand-new Land Rover Defender loaned for the day by Matford Land Rover of Exeter.

While the rest of the team went on foot, Gilby’s Land Rover proceeded sedately up the old mine track to within striking distance of the summit. Some Dartmoor tors are a simple walk on grass; not this one. Belstone Tor is protected by a ring of rocky boulders – clitter.

Only a few weeks earlier, the team were there dealing with a casualty with a broken leg. Gilby certainly hadn’t chosen an easy one to conquer!

Under medical supervision, Gilby was transferred to a specially packed mountain rescue stretcher. The team could use the single wheel underneath in places, but mostly the crew of eight had to lift and carry. Route finders picked their way through the rocks to finally reach the summit.

Their arrival was accompanied by applause and cheers from the waiting villagers who had come up the short way. The sun shone, a bar was set up and corks popped, but Gilby and Jane were left alone to admire the view back to their house and share a flask of coffee, just as they used to.

Jane, Gilbert, and North Dartmoor Search and Rescue would like to thank Matford Land Rover of Exeter for the loan of their vehicle and to Adrian Flux Insurance Services for donating the insurance.

A JustGiving page has been set up in aid of the rescue team called “Gilbert’s Big Belstone Tor Challenge”.

Gilbert and Jane / North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team with Gilbert / Getting ready for the ascent / Setting off across the moor to Nine Maidens.
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