Research Project - Military Experiences of Dartmoor

Hi Folks,

I'm working on a research project which involves exploring how the military experience the natural world, such as Dartmoor and areas of high wilderness.

I am interested in the ‘best’ or ‘most special’ experiences had while in wilderness, the emotions felt, the factors that shaped the experience, and how such experiences are transferred into your everyday lives such as environmental attitudes and behaviours along with tourism preferences.

Your views on this subject are important as this research is exploratory and nothing exists so far on how the military percieve and experience the environment from an environmental perspective.

Below are some key questions that I am investigating:

Please think of an emotional experience you’ve had on Dartmoor or in a natural environment. There is no right or wrong to think about this experience. Just drift back mentally over the times spent on Dartmoor or in a natural environment and think of the most special or very best experience you had.


1. Can you please describe the environment where the experience occurred?

2. What aspects (scenery / wildlife / activity / people / others) were important?

3. Are you able to recall what emotions - for example awe / amazement / pleasure / happiness / sadness / disappointment / joy / feeling at one with nature - you experienced? Do you think the experience change your mood at the time? Did it have any physical impact on you (e.g. heart beating faster, moments where you feel tingling sensations, hairs stand up, smells, sounds etc)? Did the experience involve something unexpected?

4. Did the experience change the way you felt or thought about yourself or about the natural environment or world in general? Did your experience prompt you to learn anything about the environment? Did your experience motivate you to adopt any pro-environmental behaviors – for example recycle more, take fewer flights, eat locally produced food etc?

5. How has your experience of natural environments shaped what you do in your free time such as leisure activities? Has your experiences of natural environments encouraged you to participate more in specific leisure, outdoor and adventure activities? If so what kinds?

6. Do you think your experience of natural environments influences your kind of tourism? When on holiday do you prefer natural or urban environments? Do you prefer familiarity when abroad or like to try things different? What shapes your destination choice? What is important to you when on holiday – specific activities, friends and family, development of your self? Should you have the choice to travel anywhere in the world where would you wish to go and why?


Address removed - research project now closed.
Thankyou. Your views will form a formal report on the subject title.
Belize - a wonderful paradise and the best posting I had. I still wanted to kill every living thing in the jungle though for the sake of a decent nights sleep whenever I had to kip there.

Fallingbostal\Sennelager - The wild boar (and not just the pub in Fally!) scare me.


to be honest mate - every time ive been in the "natural uk habitat" its been on career courses et al - where you are much more worried about being binned due to fukcing up the last section attack than taking in the natural flaura and fauna

cant help you im afraid
Moved to here to get some sensible replies generated. In view of the amount of material MoD and Army Estates put out about protecting the environment and our considerate interaction with it, it would be interesting to hear the replies.
Would like to know the reason for the research, and to which end it is destined, in which case I will send a sensible reply.

But one thing I did like about Stand-To's in good weather was the quiet moment to oberve all the fauna flying and hopping around the trenches/positions. The sunrises/sets could be spectacular.
Mind when it was peeing down the fauna had the laugh on you.

Sergeant of mine on OP on the border in NI had the opportunity to see a fox delousing itself in a river. This was at night and he was observing through a nightsight, when foxy took a bit of sheep's wool in mouth and backed very slowly into the water until ony the tip of its nose was above the surface. It then released the wool and left the water.
He swears it is true with a look of awe on his face.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
CT I cant claim any great experiences happening to me on Dartmoor apart from freezing my a**e off on the Two Moors way in Junior Leaders (which i suppose was an emotional rite of passage in itself and resulted in me vowing that when i could afford holidays i would go somewhere warm. Hey what do you know thats nearly an answer for you!!!).
I do (sensible now)recall being on an exercise with my half section (2 scimitars) in the Egyptian desert near the old El Alamain battlefield.We were on low level training and i was looking to find an OP to wait and observe the other section moving through from the East. I found some high ground with a good view and concealment it was a breathtakingly beautiful escarpment formed from wind blown sand over rock.
This looks like a good spot i thought to myself as i guided the driver in. at that point i looked down and saw an old rusty Bren Magazine lying in the sand. It had battle damage and It really put the hairs up on the back of my neck knowing that 55 years earlier another British Soldier had arrived at this very spot and thought exactly the same thing as me and then fought and probably died right there.
The desert had a very profound effect on me during the same Exercise we were moving cross country in this vast emptiness suddenly to my left i saw we had scared up a Desert Fox which was loping along next to us. I felt i exchanged a moment with it almost akin to sharing the experience of being the only living things in view. It was a strange feeling and ive wanted to go back ever since.
Very difficult to put my finger on what the feeling was but i can only say it was very primevil and i havent felt it before or since.
Hope this helps.
Oh and before you think im getting too emotional, on the same jaunt our Troop Leader walked out of the hide to relieve himself and trod in a turd freshly laid by our newest trooper, he didnt notice till he climed back in his hatch and got it all over his hands and uniform. It still makes me laugh to this day :twisted:
Hey Guys,

Thanks to those who've already responded. Though It would be great to here more of your experiences; bigger the sample the more sound the findings.

So please find the time to tell me of your experiences relating to the natural world, forward to

On Ex on Hohne ranges a few years ago lying on stagg early morning I notice a bit of movement and look towards it suddenly a deer comes out of the trees and into the clearance quite close think less than about 10 mtrs we both had a bit of eye contact and looked at each other for a bit before it turned around and walked back into the woods.

Few other times with deer once looked out of bogs in my accom in 1 of 2RTR's blocks one winter morning to see some deer walking between the blocks that was the forst time got to see one so close up that wasn't in a zoo/park etc.

Travelling on the Hohne range road in my car (naughty naughty) it back fired and a large male deer sh1t itself and ran/jumped right in front of the car

Nearly ran into a leopard on the range road once as well :wink:
Belize. Ex Native Trail 95 or 96 I think. Saw a Large Puma (it was black ?) in the beam of my headtorch at night (as did a couple of others). We all s**t ourselves.
Getting bumped by a badger in Lulworth Training Area when it blundered into our OP. Learning experiences - Badger's don't like to be surprised, and never build an OP on an animal trail.

Feeding biscuit AB crumbs to robins all over southern England - they are remarkably friendly birds. This may count as animal cruelty however and may account for their decline in numbers.
Upland Geese in the Falklands. Stunningly beautiful birds and you only ever see them in pairs, one male and one female. They partner up at an early age and, heart-warmingly, stay together for life. My mucker shot one outside MPA and the other one went fcuking MENTAL. Truly touching...

Jajce was quite nice too. Like something out of Tolkien and just as unpronouncable.
Bit of a dull one really ie no pumas etc
On section competitions in thetford advancing to contact about 5 am nice warm morning with low mist sun shining through etc.
Paused to take stock with section along side a hedge when we noticed a sheep that looked in distress, on further looking sheep was lambing and gave birth quiet easily.
Whole section just stayed there watching no words just a feeling of fcuk that was cool, once over carried on jogging.
That has stayed with me for about 13 years.

Germany on a run with a mate in hills hear a loud crashing big arsed wild boar. We jumped up tree boar stayed at bottom of it even pissed on the tree just to let us know who was boss, bloody scary.
An experience that is so common to most soldiers that they probably don't give it a second thought, but many civilians probably haven't experienced it.

Standing near the head of a valley well before dawn, watching as moonlit visiblity decreases as the mists start to form in the valley. Frost forming on the grass and bushes. The mist becomes more dense, not only reducing visibility, but also deadening sounds. As the sun comes up, the mist takes on a glow - the valley is still in darkness due to the shadows created by the surrounding hills, but the light manages to permeate through the mist.

Eventually, the sun creeps above the hills and the mist starts to dissipate. Dissipate isn't the best word to describe it. Imagine a bath full of bubbles, then take the plug out. The mist slowly sinks further down into the valley and you can look down on it as it shrinks away from re-entrants. If you're standing in a large flat area, there's a stage where the mist is knee high and it more or less "splashes" about as you walk through it.

Civvies could see these sights, but they'd have to up and about on the hills at really silly o'clock in the morning - a time when the body is screaming to remain in a nice warm bed.
Dartmoor it's obviously not but have you thought about posting this request in the submariners' section in Rum Ration?

You might be interested in the marine sounds they hear when out on patrol. Whales, dolphins etc. I'm told it's a pretty amazing experience and not something they get bored of listening too. Just don't ask where :wink:


What do I remember about the natural world in service life?
Having to remember to shake your boots out on a morning in the desert, in case something had decided it was a nice warm thing to be.
The colours when diving in the Gulf of Oman, so different from the bleak landscape on land.

Sittting for hours in the Falklands watch rockhopper penguins come ashore. Sitting in middle of an albatross colony, again in the Falklands.
Seeing a whale on the journey from The Falklands to South Georgia.
Fur seal on South Georgia, didn't look in the least vicious but I didn't stroke it. :)

As others have said, the boar in Germany, believe me you jump on a vehicle very quickly when those things come charging through.

Not quite the same but:

Having a chit-chat lizard living in our bedroom in Cyprus, it kept the mozzies away.
Having a praying mantis living on the outside of our dining room window, again in Cyprus, facinating watch it.

Mustn't forget the wind and rain at Otterburn!!
As a series of snapshots:
- smelling the herbs on a Cyprus hillside as the first sun of the day hit the shrubs.
- watching a badger bumbling down a narrow track in the green glow of a nightsight.
- being deafened in the Malaysian jungle by the night concerto.
- watching the first rays of the sun turn the tips of the monuntain ring aroud Kabul pink.
- seeing a Marsh Arab reed meeting house stranded in the drained marshes of Iraq.
- hearing trees crack in the cold of a North Norway winter night.
- and as a less idyllic element, salting and burning off leeches.
I recall as a young soldier, doing border OP duties in Hong Kong. One of the OPs was at a place called Crest Hill and it had a very good view out over the border area, one of the best. I never tired of watching the most awesome electrical storms at night, lighting up the skies out over China; no thunder, just lightning.

Another "lightning" experience was on the flight out to Saudi in 1990, travelling down the W coast of Italy at night in a Tristar and looking down on thunderstorms below us. Being above a storm and watching the lightning playing amongst the clouds was also awesome.

Dawns and sunsets too, more than I'd care to mention. That blood red orb coming up on a frosty morning on Salisbury Plain/Luneberg Heath etc, where the frosty ground and grey sky seem to merge into one colour.

Wildlife too... Sitting in a Range Rover "watching trains" somewhere E of Berlin (!) and hearing a scrabbling sound somewhere above me. It got louder and seemed to be on the far side of the tree trunk next to my window. I don't know who was the more surprised, me or the red squirrel who hove into view as he worked his way around to my side of the tree! He and I just sat quietly for a while, watching each other in perfect silence before he carried on down the trunk and started fossicking for his acorns.

Seeing fireflies for the first time, deep in a wood, or the eyes of a female elk and her calf lit up in my headlights. Sitting "watching trains" (again) in a hunter's shooting box and watching a herd of deer moving along the edge of the forest, totally oblivious to us.

Yep, I'd agree with Putteesinmyhands alright. You do see some amazing sights when others are tucked up warm in bed. :wink:

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