I’ve been out on the south moor today with Rob Steemson, the DNPA’s longest serving Ranger, great company and glorious weather. We were reccying a few sites, looking at the vegetation condition and looking at a few places suffering from erosion.
We started near Peat Cot and headed down the recently restored ‘yellow brick road’ to Nunn’s Cross and onto the Eylesbarrow Tin Mine and then over Plym Steps and onto the Abbott’s Way and up to Broad Rock.
This is a boundary marker stone between Willing Walls and Hentor Common (owned by the National Trust) and the Forest of Dartmoor.
Plenty of frog’s spawn around
Down to the very impressive Erme Pits
We then followed the Blacklane Brook up to Duck’s Pool (where the mire is soon to be restored using DEFRA funding)
This is the location of the second ever ‘Letterbox’ on Dartmoor (the first being Cranmere Pool)
There is a memorial plaque there in honour of William Crossing
And the box containing the letter boxing paraphernalia tells the story
Duck’s Pool comes complete with ducks …..
Then north up the peat pass to Fox Tor and Fox Tor Mire beyond. The smoke in the middle distance is from a bit of swaling taking place in a New Take near to the West Dart.
Here’s the route – it’s about 9 miles – much of it is pretty remote ….. so ….. make sure you are suitably equipped if you want to try it out.
Just for a change I went up onto Dartmoor this afternoon!
I went in search of the herd of Highland cattle which inhabit the Commons between the Warren House Inn, Headland Warren and Hameldown, spent a lot of time searching but to no avail! Facebook tells me they are still there …. somewhere!
Nevertheless found plenty of other things to look at and photograph – here are a few of my pictures.
A Swaledale near Headland Warren
Scotties near Headland Warren
Down the Challacombe Valley
On the drove up to Great Mis Tor
South Devons at a ring-feeder on the in-bye near Postbridge
A new perspective on the Postbridge clapper bridge
Scotch Blackface sheep under a busy Haytor
Saddle Tor via a Lensball
Sunset at Saddle Tor
The sheep i.e. the ewes are now back on the Commons having been tupped (mated) by the rams – the Dartmoor farming year keeps turning.
This must be one of my favourite walks – starts at Meldon reservoir and then up to Yes Tor, on to High Wilhays and down to Dinger Tor, over to Lints Tor and then back to Meldon via the West Okement River through Black a tor Copse. It is around 8.5 mils and it took me 3 hours with three short stops.
Here the route via Strava
After a climb up from Meldon you get on a ridge and can see Yes Tor (right), West Mill Tor (middle) and Rowtor (left)
Part of Yes Tor
On top of Yes Tor (619m) look along the ridge to High Wilhays (621m)
High Wilhays – highest part of Dartmoor
Smoke drifting west from the big grass and gorse fire near to Watern Tor
Looking down the West Okement Valley from Lints – almost looks like a Scottish Glen.
Back up to Lints with Great Knesset behind
Ancient oak amongst the clitter
Inside Black a tor Copse – magical and mystical
Black a tor Copse with Black Tor above it
Waterfall on the West Okement
It is a pretty straight forwards walk assuming the visibility is good but you do need waterproof boots as the West Okement section crosses numerous flushes. Obviously a map and compass job just in case … Can be walked clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Lots of people know that the huge TV mast on Dartmoor is located at North Hessary Tor – it is one of the major features we use when navigating on the moor.
It can however prove to be a bit of an optical illusion – here is the mast with a Tor at its base – so this must be North Hessary?
Stand back a bit and slightly change the angle and you can see that North Hessary is further back – to the left is Rundlestone Tor – so the Tor in the picture above is Rundlestone Tor.
Standing at the Hamlet of Rundlestone you can see this Tor on the slopes up to Rundlestone Tor and Hessary Tor – this is Hollow Tor.
Standing a bit to east under Great Staple Tor you can put all three Tors into perspective. Rundlestone Tor to the left, Hollow Tor in the middle and North Hessary (with the mast) to the right.
Yesterday was our last 10 Tors training walk of the year – not a long walk just around 4 hours which culminated in our traditional Christmas lunch in the car park below Great Staple Tor.
Earlier in the day we had been over to Fice’s Well to checkpoint our 45 and 55 mile teams. As the morning progressed the wind picked up and it was bitterly cold.
A horse shoe on a granite wall on the way down from Great Mis Tor
I used this photo in my blog yesterday – I’ve had a play in Photoshop and I quite like this version too.
In total there were nearly 80 of us out yesterday and at the end of the walk we had warm pasties, warm mince pies and hot ‘mulled’ fruit juice. A feat of hard, work, timing and improvisation – thanks Karrie
We even had a Christmas tree!
Looking down from the car park is Vixen Tor – one of the very few on Dartmoor you can’t visit.
And looking across to the west is Pew Tor with a herd of galloway grazing the Common below
This is my favourite picture from our walk on Dartmoor today
The path up to Great Mis Tor with Little Mis Tor on the left – it was might cold in the wind when we weren’t walking and even then it wasn’t great !
The newtakes with the moor beyond.
Out of shot to the left all the ewes (female sheep) are in the fields for ‘tupping’ – i.e. mating with the ram (the male sheep) – soon they will be back on the Commons
Whilst I like reading and writing about Dartmoor you can’t beat the experience of getting out into Dartmoor. Yesterday the annual 10 Tors cycle began again. We were out on the moor training the new prospective students how to read maps, navigate and walk on Dartmoor. We had six groups of students walking various routes from Haytor to Hound Tor and back.
This is the route I took – it is about 8km long and is a good introductory walk on Dartmoor – it does go up and down and requires walking boots, a compass, map and a coat but nevertheless is an achievable walk which visits a number of interesting places. It starts at the lower Haytor Car Park.
The Becca Brook below Holwell Tor with the recently installed new clapper bridge
Greator Rocks between Holwell Lawn and Houndtor Down
Looking back to Haytor with its quarries and Holwell Tor in the foreground
Up to Hound Tor – the Rowan or Mountain Ash trees were covered in their blood red berries
The south west corner of Hound Tor
Back across the Becca Brook and up the slope to Black Hill with Haytor again in the background
The Cairn on the summit of Black Hill with the Bovey Valley in the background.
Part of the ancient tramway on Haytor Down
The famous quarry to the northeast of Haytor itself
Back down to the car park for a cup of tea and a piece of flapjack with my old friends from Home Farm Cafe.
A very blustery day up on the moor yesterday but we missed out on the rain! I can recommend this walk if you want to recharge your batteries and burn a few calories. The area is rich in archaeology and moor itself is well managed by the Commoners and is great for wildlife.
I recently wrote about the phenomenon of pebble art on the beaches of the Isles of Scilly – see here. It now seems to be a growing trend on Dartmoor too.
Here is an example – High Willhays on Monday
Here is High Willhays on New Year’s Day 2011 – only four pebbles compared to the impressive ten on Monday – will that ever be surpassed?
If the trend continues High Willhays will soon be 622 metres high!
I went for a walk yesterday with a friend up to High Willhays – the highest point on Dartmoor. It was around a 7 mile walk and took 4 hours including a lunch stop and included a climb of about 340 metres.
We started at the car park by Meldon Reservoir and then walked along the southern boundary of the reservoir, up the West Okement River, through the ancient oak wood called Black-a-tor Copse, on to Sandy Ford, then up to Fordsland Ledge, up to High Willhays, on to Yes Tor and then back down to Meldon via Okehampton Common and Longstone Hill. It is one of my favourite walks on Dartmoor – here are a few photographs from the day.
Melton Reservoir from the dam
Down to the viaduct from the dam
By the West Okement looking up to Black Tor
Into Black-a-tor Copse one of three of Dartmoor’s high altitude oak woods (see here and here for more details).
Emerging from the other side
At Fordsland Ledge looking south along the West Okement River with Lint’s Tor on the left
Approaching High Willhays – the little rock on the left with the cairn on it. High Willhays is something of an optical illusion – wherever you stand and look at it on Dartmoor there always appears to be a tor which is higher than it! However it is the highest point at 621m.
At the summit – with Yes Tor behind (looking taller)
Up to Yes Tor (619m)
At the trig point on Yes Tor looking back to High Willhays
Back down to Meldon Reservoir with Sourton Tor above the end of the water
High Dartmoor at its best – highly recommended
On Saturday evening I was on Dartmoor heading towards Dick’s Well where our 10 Tors teams were camping for the night. It was fabulous weather – sunny, big blue skies and lots of photogenic clouds. Here are a few photographs I took whilst we were waiting for a team to arrive.
Arms Tor looking north to Great Nodden
Up to Great Links
Arms Tor over to Brat Tor and the Widgery Cross
Arms Tor, Sharp Tor, Hare Tor and Brat Tor
It was a magical 15 minutes of sun, light and solitude in an awesome landscape – I wished it could have lasted forever.
It didn’t though – we had to walk back down to Nodden Gate to ‘talk’ to one of our teams only to then have to walk back up to Dick’s Well via Brat Tor. If you haven’t done that walk I recommend you do – it is very steep – it is a red zone climb and Tony and I did it twice in 90 minutes – I suppose the consolation was that the second time were weren’t carrying full 65 litre rucksacks.