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.
The weather on Dartmoor yesterday was fantastic – much too good to not go for a walk. I started from the hidden car park behind the Dartmoor Inn in Lydford.
Down to the stepping stones across the River Lyd – with Bray Tor in the background. Bray Tor is also known as Brat Tor but I prefer the former.
I then headed up to Arms Tor which is definitely a ‘red zone’ climb.
But once the puffing and blowing is over the views become amazing. This is Bray Tor from Arms Tor.
And this is Great Links Tor from Arms Tor.
The walk up to Great Links is much easier. The trig point on Great Links.
Looking over to High Wilhays and Yes Tor from Great Links Tor. High Wilhays is the highest point on Dartmoor but as ever Yes Tor (to the left) looks higher.
Down from Great Links is Dick’s Well – a huge area of tin workings. It is also a great place for wild camping – secluded and sheltered.
On to Bray Tor with the Widgery Cross.
From Bray Tor you can see Chat Tor to the left and then Hare Tor with Doe Tor in the middle distance on the right.
Down in the valley by the River Lyd is an area of in bye land that is gradually rewilding – lots of trees and shrubs regenerating. I listened to a cuckoo here for over an hour.
Highly recommended area to explore.
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.
I went to Buckland Beacon over the weekend to see the newly restored Ten Commandment Stones. I last went there in 2014 and commented then that the writing was becoming illegible (see here) and I am pleased to say that the Moor than Meets the Eye Project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and managed by Dartmoor National Park Authority have restored the lettering.
The two 10 commandment stones were carved by WA Clement in 1928 – see here for the full story
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
Yesterday I was up on high Dartmoor as part of our 10 Tors training – we had around 60 young people and a dozen adult helpers. It was the kind of day that unless you had to go out onto the moors you probably wouldn’t have. The visibility was pretty poor, there was either constant mizzle or wind driven rain. It was a day for navigating via a compass and not using landmarks. All in all a good day for practicing various 10 Tors skills and testing your clothing and equipment.
On Okehampton Common looking into the Red-a-ven brook
Between West Mill Tor and Rowtor (which were invisible in the mist) back down to Anthony Stile
Up at Dinger Tor
At Dinger Tor – wet, windy, cold and misty
A Cladonia lichen brightens up the day – close to High Willhays
A pool close to High Willhays
Ian and Tony at High Willhays, the highest point on Dartmoor (and south England) at 621 metres.
Various teams of walkers pass through High Willhays
On the right hand side of this picture you can see a single individual on top of the Cairn – rather oddly and worryingly he appeared out of the mist wearing a pair of trainers and a non waterproof coat carrying a supermarket carrier bag and asked us which Tor he was at, stating that he didn’t have a map! We told him he was at High Willhays and he seemed very pleased to have found it. He then sat on the cairn for 30 minutes – he must have got soaked. We asked if he wanted help getting back but he said he knew the back and was fine ……. One walk away from disaster.
Back down at Meldon Reservoir (look how low the water level is) you can see the mist and rain on the high moor
Looking down over the dam
Here’s the route I took yesterday starting at the car park at Meldon reservoir – it is around 10.5 miles in length and on a day with good visibility is a great high Dartmoor walk. If you do decide to do it – please wear good walking boots, waterproof clothing and take a map and compass …….
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 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
The bluebells at Emsworthy are coming into full flower – it is an impressive and joyous sight.
Emsworthy is a nature reserve owned and managed by the Devon Wildlife Trust – see here for location and details
It is located west of Haytor and Saddle Tor on the road to Widecombe
Look out for the orange barn – that is where you need to head
The spectacle is all the more enhanced by the calling of the cuckoo – zoology and botany hail our spring
A new book on wild swimming and walking on Dartmoor has just been published – Wild Swimming Walks Dartmoor and South Devon by Sophie Pierce and Matt Newbury. It gives details of 28 lake, river and beach days out. It costs £14.99
I have done a bit of wild swimming but to be honest it is not really my thing however this little book is excellent – all the walks are between 4 and 7 miles in length and include a wild swim.
I have been to most of the the places detailed in the book on Dartmoor as part of my 10 Tors training walk but this book gives everyone easy access to some of Dartmoor and south Devon’s special places.
Walk number 12 is around the Plym Valley and includes the magical Shavercombe Valley and its little waterfall, you could follow the instructions for this walk to get to a lovely remote place and you could then treat the two swims / dips in this walk as optional or compulsory as is your want.
Another walk up the East Dart to Sandy Hole Pass and its waterfall.
I can really recommend this book either as a short walks guide or as a walk / swim guide – either way it takes you to some brilliant places. None of the walks are that long either and as they focus on rivers and lakes don’t involve lots of climbing.
I will certainly be using the book to explore some of the places I haven’t been to yet.
You can order the book from Amazon here.