A bright morning
The day dawned with hardly any clouds in the sky. Once the sun was up, it warmed up quickly, although there was a pleasant cooling breeze. Today’s objective was to walk east to Bellever and camp below Riddon Ridge.
Conies Down Tor and the head of the Cowsic River
We followed the River Walkham for a short way north, then cut north of Blackbrook Head. The going was a bit tussocky and boggy, particularly when we reached the depression before Conies Down Tor. The ground improved markedly as we climbed the tor. At the summit, we met yet another group of ponies.
Head of the Cowsic River
From Conies Down Tor we skirted the head of the Cowsic River. Fortunately, there was a reasonable path, although it was still a bit wet in places. The next objective was the ambitiously named Devil’s Tor, which was actually not that impressive. More impressive than the tor was a massive standing stone.
Devil’s Tor and standing stone
From Devil’s Tor we could easily make out the military observation post on Rough Tor. There was a clear path between the tors, although it looked a bit wet. In the event, it was pretty good. Rough Tor is a good view point and we took in the views for a few minutes.
Longaford Tor from Rough Tor
From Rough Tor we descended into the valley of the infant West Dart River and then followed a track north of Brown’s House. We skirted the slope of Broad Down and stopped for lunch at the stream that descends into Hollowcombe Bottom.
The lunch time view
After lunch we made for Lower White Tor, then Higher White Tor. The going was easy as we approached the impressive Longaford Tor. Longaford looks impregnable but we found a way up the northern side of the tor.
Bellever Tor from Longaford Tor
The descent from the top of the tor was a bit tricky, but OK. Then we made a bit of a navigational mistake. There was a clear path down to the Powdermills next to a wall. Andy went haring off. If we had looked more carefully at the map, we should have followed a different path, further south. The path we followed meant we had to cross over a marshy stretch to get to the Powdermills.
The Bog of Doom with the Powdermills chimney in the background
Little did we know that this was the Bog of Doom. Everything seemed OK to start with. The tussocks required a bit of careful balance, aided by trekking poles. Then in the centre, the surface became an unstable mat of vegetation with flowing water underneath. Andy went in up to his knee and got a shoe full of water. I decided speed was the answer, so I half ran across, getting some water in my boot in the process. Of course, I got the blame, despite Andy leading us down the wrong path 😉 . I’m sure there are worse bogs in Scotland, maybe even Dartmoor, but it was the worst I’ve come across.
Looking back towards Longaford Tor
From the Powdermills, we followed a sketchy path to the edge of Bellever Forest. Initially the path in the forest gave us some pleasant shade. After turning east, we were once again in the sun. We thought about visiting Bellever Tor, but decided to push on to Bellever on some forest roads.
My original plan had been to camp on the opposite side of the river to the forest car park outside Bellever, below Riddon Ridge. When we arrived, we were dismayed to find a crowd of people on both sides of the river sunbathing and swimming. Also, the toilet block, while welcome, didn’t provide drinking water and we didn’t fancy using the water from the river. So, I had a quick rethink. It was only mid-afternoon. I felt we could easily make it to the beehive hut on the East Dart, which is an excellent place to camp.
Postbridge Post Office
The other advantage was that we could visit the Post Office at Postbridge for refreshments. A pleasant path led us through a field to Postbridge after a short initial section of road. At the Post Office, drinks and ice creams were purchased as well as some other supplies for Andy. Suitably refreshed, we pushed on.
Postbridge from Hartland Tor
After skirting the fields around Hartyland, instead of following the path along the river, we made a short ascent to Hartland Tor. I’ve walked the river path a couple of times and it’s quite tough with gorse bushes and uneven tracks. The path above the river is much better, with minimal gorse and dry underfoot.
View west from near the beehive hut
In no time at all, we were at the beehive hut and our camping spot. After we erected the tents, the sky became noticeably cloudier and the wind felt fresher. The forecast was for rain in the middle of the night, but it felt like it might arrive early.
Camping at the beehive hut on the East Dart River
Indeed, light rain arrived mid evening and we battened down the hatches. During the night, we had some serious rain and wind. On a previous visit to Dartmoor, my Duomid leaked. I was pleased to note that there were no problems this time, even if, at times, it rattled like a plastic carrier bag.
In part three, Andy has more encounters with insects, not all to his liking 😉