Meet the 'mad' Devon woman camping out on Dartmoor in -8C weather

Claire Hyne has been camping out on Dartmoor with her dog Fitz. Credit: Claire Hyne

Turning 50 is an important milestone in anyone's life - some throw a big party for all their friends and family, while others jet off on holiday or buy a new car.

But none of that appealed to Claire Hyne, from Moretonhampstead in Devon. Instead, she decided to think outside the box - and her home, for that matter.

The 49-year-old businesswoman has committed to spending 50 nights outdoors in her 50th year, starting with two very chilly nights on Dartmoor.

She said: "I've always been outdoorsy. I'm a Devon girl, I've done the 10 Tors and anyone who knows me won't be surprised that I'm doing this.

"For my 40th we took off and cycled the Americas. So I've got form for doing something mad."

Claire's spent two nights on the moor so far. Credit: Claire Hyne

Claire's spent two nights on the moor so far, with temperatures dipping as low as -8C. Luckily, she had her border terrier Fitz with her, to stop frostbite from setting in.

"He's very useful for keeping me warm - he's like a furry hot water bottle. And he loves camping out. When we got to the campsite he did zoomies around the tent."

But even with Fitz's company, Claire admitted that there was a layer of frost outside and inside the tent when she woke up.

"I don't mind it in the night because I've got a good sleeping bag, but taking down the tent in the morning is a bit grim," she laughed.

Despite the cold, if Claire knows it's going to be a dry night, she does her best to camp out on the moor.

"You never know when the weather is going to change for the worse and I wouldn't want to miss a glorious sunrise just because it's a bit cold."

Fitz helps keep Claire warm on cold nights. Credit: Claire Hyne

So far, she's ticked off the Honeybag and Hameldown Tors, and in May she'll head off to Scotland for a week's holiday.

But, she says, no matter what Dartmoor will always be her first love.

"It's kind of relevant that this is happening this year, with all the debate around camping on the moor. It just shows that this is a great thing to do and people love it.

"I have a public-facing job and it's lovely to do something that's just me and the dog. Nowadays people expect you to be accessible all the time.

"I love going somewhere with no phone reception, where you have time to just think and ponder things.

"You get to see much more at sunrise. And in the summer I love to look out for butterflies and beetles."

"You get to see much more at sunrise". Credit: Claire Hyne

She's hoping her challenge will encourage others to head outdoors.

"I think people really got into spending time in nature during Covid and it's sad to think that it's gone to the bottom of their priorities because life has got busy again.

"I hope I can inspire people to take that time for themselves. It's a bit of a luxury to be able to stop and take some time out."