So I finially hit Hay Tor after many months on The Great Tor Explore. It was a quick Sunday walk from the carparks up the old cut steps to the top of Hay Tor. We also went for a quick amble across to explore haytor quarries and then across a very boggy bit of ground to Smallcombe Rocks and for an explore around the Haytor Quarries. All in all about 2.5km!
Walk 17 was on 29.10.2012, it was a walk heading North of Postbridge. It was myself and my friend Jake, it was half term so we decided to make the most of it and head out to bag a few more Tors. unfortunately the weather was not on our side, it was horrendously wet, driving rain and we where pretty much soaked through by the first Tor. It was so wet that my phone got water damaged while inside my bag! The walk comes in at 10.5km and 210m of ascent. I’m sure the walk would be very pleasant if it wasn’t so wet under and above foot.
Start at Postbridge car park (SX 647 789), head down the road towards Inn over the bridge, which is close to the old clapper bridge. Just after the bridge there’s a gate on the left which can lead you up an obvious path next to the river. Follow the path by the river until the first tor comes into view on the hill on the right hand side of the path. The first tor is Hartland Tor at SX 643 789 which is a nice collection of rocks on the hillside. The next tor, Stannon Tor (SX 646 912) is quite clear up to the north, you can easily contour round staying high past a sheepfold. The ground in between was very wet and waterlogged.
From Stannon Tor we headed towards the very clear settlement walls at SX 647 816, and stayed high. The next high point is Assycombe Hill on the edge of the forest at SX 664 823. There is a fairly steep little hill up to the top of Assycombe Hill and on top is a standing stone, near the edge of the forest.
So Walk number 16 comes in at 20km and 285m of ascent so a longer walk but very flat! Here’s the routecard!
This was a really pleasant walk! I got fairly good weather and fairly few people around too! So I started Parking in Princetown Car Park (a small charge to an honesty box if I remember!) and then followed the map out onto the bridleway past the pub. There is a ovbious path which leads up onto South Hessary Tor which is a pleasant little collection of rocks with a lovely view.
Next I continued south south east on the path towards Nuns Cross which is a low-lying area with a cross and an old building ruin (and quite a bit of bog!). The next leg of the walk out to Fox Tor was a little more arduous, as there is no path and quite a few boggy/small streams running off the hillside, although I did find it easy enough to contour along an old wall for the majority of the way. Fox Tor itself is fairly unimpressive. After Fox Tor, my initial idea was to walk on a bearing to see if I could find the cross at SX 614 695 thinking it would be an obvious large cross, after a little searching I did find the cross, wich turned out to be perched on a small rock and was only about 10cm tall, but quite an interesting little find none the less. After the mini cross I carried on to find the pat of Abbots Way which you can follow down into a small little valley below Calveslake Tor. The small valley is sheltered, wit ha river and very beautiful, I can imagine it would make a good camping spot!
After Calveslake Tor, a quick jump across the River leads you up to the Lower and Higher Hartor Tors. After eating lunch on top of Higher Hartor Tor I set a bearing for Cuckoo Rock and followed a rounded ridge around, jumping over the small river and wall which separates you and Cuckoo Rock. Cuckoo Rock is pretty, a lot of larger boulders scattered around in fern, which gives it a really Jurassic Park feel to the area. After exploring at Cuckoo rock Down Tor is a stones throw away, but fairly uninteresting. After Down Tor you have a fairly long, boring and slightly inclined walk back up through the ‘baby head’ grass back towards Nuns Cross. You should be able to see the river on your left and old ruins of mines and dumped piles as you walk along a contour of the valley. Eventually you pop back over a sharp little bank and your back at Nuns Cross Farm, there is just before the bank a very large tree which has grown up over a little brick hut which is quite nice, although was inhabiting 2 sheep when i went for an explore! After you hit Nuns Cross again you have an easy path to lead you back past South Hessary Tor to Princetown and your car (and a drink in the local!).
So Walk 15, was out from Sourton Church which handily has some free parking. The walk comes in at 17km and 580m of ascent…so quite a tiring one for the legs! Here’s the routecard…
The blue leg denotes both the first and last leg of the walk. So I started out parking at Sourton Church and following the bridleway out the back of the car park. Very quickly after leaving the car park Sourton Tor (SX 543 898) will come into view. Sourton Tor is large, steep and jumbled, there is an easier path up on the North East side (left when looking at it)
. After Sourton you can pick up on of the many old mining/military roads and follow it south. I picked up the end of a mining road at SX 545 887. I followed this around to Gren Tor (SX 551 879) and then up and over to Hunt Tor (SX 556 876), I would be a little wary as when I was walking over to Hunt Tor, there was massive herd of cows, that I very gingerly picked my way through. After Hunt Tor, you unfortunately have the long and boggy slog up towards the Trig Point at Great Links Tor (SX 550 876), the walk over to Little Links Tor(SX 545 869) is pleasant and easy as is the walk over to Arms Tor (SX 540 862). After Arms Tor you walk down into a dip with a path at the bottom you cross right over this and up to Brat Tor (SX 539 855) and the Widgery Cross which was erected in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887.
After the Widgery Cross you have to head East into the old mining area, and pick your way through, there are plenty but not one main one! And onto Lower Dunna Goat (SX 557 863) and it’s nearby brother Upper Dunna Goat (SX 557 864). Looking East you should now be able to see the Bleak House that stands near to Green Tor at SX 561 864. The Bleak house is old ruins from the peat works and hasn’t been used since the 1930′s.
After Green Tor it is a pretty big old slog up to Kitty Tor at SX 567 874. I took a bearing and walked on it. Kitty Tor has a hut on top with a bit of rock aswell, but gives good views…although not a particularly beautiful tor. Kitty Tor is unfortunately where my camera ran out, which is a MASSIVE shame seeing as Kitty Tor is my 100th Tor!
After Kitty Tor your legs get a break as you walk down into the rather lovely and remote valley which hides the West Okement. Some of the next part was very water-logged although I had done my walk after heavy rain, I can imagine it is boggy in places even in dry weather. You follow the river North West to Steng-a-Tor (SX 569 876) and then onto Shelstone Tor (SX 557 898) Neither of these 2 tors are spectacular in rock terms but the surroundings are very pretty!
After Shelstone you have the moderate slog back up to Sourton Tor, and the start of your walk back at Sourton Chuch!
So Walk 14, on 04.06.2012, A walk from South Zeal Post Office up onto Cosdon Hill. It was fairly overcast ad wanting to rain the whole time. The walk comes in at 14km and 530m of ascent, so get your uphill legs on, as the walk up to Cosdon is steep, and goes on FOREVER.
So I started at what I thought was the parking on the map for South Zeal Post office, I got it wrong, and ended up having a navigational nightmare. On most OS Maps around West Wyke you’ll find an old quarry/mine/pile of muddy/tip. I accidentally got confused and ended up here. There is sucha network of public paths and Bridleways around this area, that are all so rubbishly signposted that it’s easy to get lost, ok! After making it out of the wood (where I found an adorable Pixie Door someone had made) and onto the moor proper, you have to spend the best part of 30 minutes trudging up a fairly steep and unforgiving hill. It seems to go on forever, and theres always just that little bit more to go. But evenutally you reach Cosdon Hill, with its Cairns and Impresive Trig Point (which holds a wood burning beacon on special occasions). Theres a lovely Cairn with a dip for a break away from the wind, to rest your nackered thighs!
From Cosdon Hill walk almost due south, on a broad ridge until you reach Little Hound Tor, South further into a small dip where there is a stone standing circle, just beyond this on the hill infront is Hound Tor. The land off to the East, towards Kennon Hill is rather boggy in wet weather. Kennon Hill is nothing spectactular so could be easily missed if wanted! But it being on the list a quick boggy walk out to the grassy mound it was! From Kennon Hill I waslked straight back to Little Hound Tor.
From Little Hound Tor, I headed straight back up towards Cosdon Hill. On my walk back up towards Cosdon Hill a couple with their son where attaching a Beacon Basket full of wood ready to light for the juiblee weekend! After Cosdon Hill I walked back down the path and turned off towards the gap in the wall where I popped out form on my way up…or so I thought. I ended up next to the stream and Bridleway, which I followed back towards South Zeal. In South Zeal I got lost again wit hpoor signposting AGAIN…and popped out by South Zeal Post Office, which happened to be right where I’d parked.
This walk was definatly interesting, plenty to look at, and although you end up walking of the route twice, it seems to go quickly. 14km of Dartmoor seems to whip by, though I woudln’t reccomend this one for little legs, becasue of the steep hills, or novices becaue of the tricky map reading around South Zeal.
So walk 13, on 26.05.12, it was an absolute stunner of a day, so decided to go for a walk up near Avon Dam. I can easily say that this is the most enjoyable and beautiful walk I’ve done so far, especially the bit up to the Dam. It’s also the 1st time I’ve managed to walk in shorts (and factor 50 sunscreen!)….a long way away from my first walks, in mountaineering gloves, down jacket and on frozen ground!
So pink line denotes the start and green is the return back towards the car, the walk comes in at 17km and 335m of ascent. It’s a lovely gentle walk, with no big hills and crazy beautiful scenery.
So I started at Shipley Bridge car park, which is large, and has great facilities like a toilet and an ice cream van! Theres a fairly obvious track out the back of the toilets which is concreted and lasts all the way up until the dam (pretty much). The first bit of the walk is great for little people, and prams! So start off on the concrete road and you will come to a bridge over the river at SX 680 637. This continues winding up the valley, past a small waterworks with a weir, until you can see the Dam. The road then splits into 2 dirt tracks, take the right one at SX 681 647. This leads you up to the right hand side of the Dam where you can see Grippers Hill (SX 686 654) on your right. I took a sheep path up through the bracken, its longer than you think with several false summits, but keep walking untill you can see off to haytor in the distance (on a good day)!
The next leg is unfortunately a bit of a slog through a bog. Continue over to Puper Hill (SX 672 673), which has some pleasant enough Cairns on top, and a lovely near panoramic view of the surroundings. Snowdon is the obvious hill to the north at SX 668 684 and again has some lovely Cairns on top. To the north-west again, is Ryders Hill (SX 659 691), with both Cairn and Trig Point, and is a great rest with a view! You then have to trudge back to Pupers Hill before taking a directly south bearing over to Hickaton Hill SX 671 666, following this south you eventually hit the edge of the resivour and the path running around its East side, follow this until SX 679 657 where you can turn left. This left turn brings you back to your original path where you can follow the concrete path back down to Shipley Bridge, your Car, and a well deserved Ice-Cream.
This really is a great walk, the river is beautiful, the flowers alongside the river are amazing, and the valley that opens up into open moor and the huge resivour! This has become my favourite bit of Dartmoor just for the scenery. Theres also a whole load of great camping spots up and down the river from Shipley bridge to the Dam.
So Walk 12 on 22.04.2012. I had planned to go out on the Saturday but after some people bailed I was keen to get out on the Sunday and go out in the blustery and rainy day anyway…not wanting to go the whole weekend without getting a quick walk in. So I decided to head towards Belstone…my first idea for a walk was to head out from Belstone Cullever Steps and head out to East Mill Tor (Circled in red) but pretty much as soon as I stepped out of the car I decided that with the rain and wind that it wasnt going to happen and shortened my walk out to Oke Tor and back hitting the few Tors in-between. The wind and rain were fairly horrendous….This walk took me just over an hour and half…and comes in at 7.8km and 225m of ascent.
So I started out at the parking in Belstone, just down from the Tors pub next to the green at SX621 930. Walking to the end of the row of parking the road narrows and steeped and leads you through a gate near the top of the hill. Coming out of the gate onto the open moor, you effectively turn right, or West. It was after coming out from the shelter of the village and onto the proper moor that I realised how miserable the weather actually was. I walked West past the Watchet Hill Cottages and towards the 9 standing stone circle, which is quite a welcome navigation point. The small Tor on a lower hill in the distance is Scarey Tor SX 607 925. My first intention was to come off the back of Scarey Tor and head down to cullever steps to cross over East Okement, but with the weather being appalling I headed South East towards Winter To which was also fairly visible on the prow of the next hill. Winter Tor (SX 609 916) was a welcome break from the wind and a quick rest and snack bar stop. While sitting down enjoying my cereal bars a group of 4 or 5 came rushing past coming off the moor from Oke Tor (which is the next checkpoint!), seemingly in a rush to get off and looking rather bedraggled.
The walk out to Oke Tor (SX 900 613) is along a wide but relatively steep ridge (by Dartmoor standards!), which means that it bears the full brunt of bad weather coming in, with the wind and rain coming from the west the ridge felt quite exposed….probably about as exposed as Dartmoor’s got so far. A very strong Westerly wind was trying to constantly knock me off my feet, and it succeeded quite a few times! After eventually getting to Oke Tor, I decided I’d get a few pictures of the incoming weather…I almost felt the pressure drop as if the air was sighing, and something was about to happen. I had all of 30 seconds to whip out my waterproof trousers and wriggle into them before a torrent of rain came across the valley and hit the ridge. I decided it was about time to get the heck off the moor and head back to Exeter for some dinner. So after Oke Tor you turn pretty much due north and head back along the ridge you just walked, instead of heading back towards Winter Tor you can stay high on the ridge and get to Higher Tor, Irishmans Wall and Belstone Tor one after another. After hitting Belstone Tor you can head back down the hill and slightly to the right back towards the gate you came through on the way out, a quick run through the village and your back to your car on the village green.
I can easily say that this walk was some of the worst weather I’ve had on the Great Tor Explore. After I got back to Exeter I checked the stats of the walk, and the weather gauges I found out the wind had been gusting up to 40mph, which is a fair amount when your only small and out on an exposed ridge. The weather was plenty for me to hack and has given me a respect for the fact that so many people can and do get lost or disoriented on Dartmoor every year. A lesser experienced or well equipped person could easily get into trouble!