Dartmoor Tramping (part three)

DSC00172About fifteen hours after it started, the rain finally let up at around one o’clock in the morning. At dawn, we were greeted with what looked a perfect day: glorious sunshine. The contrast with the previous day was stunning.

River Walkham

DSC00176We were packed by nine o’clock and headed up to Cocks Hill and then to White Barrow to meet the path leading down to Willsworthy. At the Barrow, we met a couple of Ten Tors leaders who informed us we were likely to see several groups practicing for the event. A few minutes later, their group arrived and we left them to it.

Path to Brousentor Farm

DSC00180We took the path down to Brousentor Farm. At first we walked on moorland, reaching a lane further down. When we reached the River Tavy, we turned north towards a footbridge marked on the map. We were treated a beautiful, short walk along the river amongst trees.

River Tavy

DSC00186We made a brief stop at the bridge for a bite to eat before continuing along some lanes to the car park below Ger Tor. Originally my plan had been to walk up Tavy Cleave, but we decided to go up Ger Tor instead on the basis that it might be a bit drier.

Ger Tor

DSC00187While the path was OK, it was quite boggy in places. However, we were compensated by the extensive views westwards.  At the top we also had a good view of Tavy Cleave. Some day I’m actually going to walk up the Cleave!

Tavy Cleave

DSC00190From Ger Tor we made our way to Hare Tor. On the northern side there are some boulders which made convenient seats and a good spot for lunch, sheltered from the wind. There was also a splendid view of Fur Tor and Cut Hill.

Fur Tor

DSC00193After lunch, next stop was Chat Tor.

Chat Tor with Great Links Tor in the background

DSC00198As time was getting on, we skipped going to Great Links Tor and headed to Dunna Goat and then down to the trackway which leads to some old mine workings near Bleak House.

Bleak House

DSC00201The path up to Kitty Tor was quite tricky with numerous pools and boggy patches to negotiate. Although some places had stepping-stones from the masonry of the mine, other stretches required diversions and a few jumps across peaty pools.

Ponies

DSC00207On the way down to Sandy Ford we encountered some Dartmoor ponies. Initially they were a bit camera-shy, but eventually we managed to catch them. The path down was quite rough and we were glad to reach the ford. Alan decided to swap to trainers to cross. Fortunately, I’d packed my trusty waders, although I probably could have got across with just gaiters.

Wading Sandy Ford

DSC00210On the other side, Alan suggested that time was getting on and that we might as well camp here rather than pressing on. Who was I to disagree? It’s a lovely place to camp.

Camping at Sandy Ford

DSC00213We knew the forecast for the next day was poor, but it was a surprise that it started raining at around two o’clock. There were some very brief breaks as it got light, but we had to pack in the rain. The wind was quite strong, so rather than go over the tops, we decided to walk down the West Okement River.

West Okement River

IMG_1827In other circumstances, it would have been a pleasant walk, but the strong wind and driving rain made it a bit of a trial. The only saving grace was that the wind was at our backs. At Vellake Corner, we crossed the bridge over the weir and made for the ridge along South Down. The wind was ferocious, but at least the lane gave a modicum of shelter. We felt the true force of the wind at the Meldon Viaduct.

Cake at Meldon Viaduct

IMG_1828At the far side of the viaduct, we decided to make use of the buffet in a disused rail carriage. Although the rain abated a bit, the wind rocked the carriage. After a bite to eat and some tea, it was onwards via the cycle track to Okehampton Station. Despite some shelter from the wind, it started to rain harder. At Okehampton station, we switched to the footpath which took us to the East Okement River. At least we were sheltered by the trees.

However, crossing the bridge over the river, we had to climb up to the open ridge, where we were assaulted afresh by almost hurricane force wind and rain. It was unpleasant mile or so to the car park. Getting changed to drive home in the rain was fun (not)!

Despite the weather, we had a good trip. The rain and wind came on the right days for us and at least we had two good days of walking and enjoyed some good camping.

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4 thoughts on “Dartmoor Tramping (part three)”

  1. As a fly fisherman who’s also backpacked on Dartmoor, it has often occurred that thigh waders with studded rubber soles are probably the ideal footwear for Dartmoor.

    Sounds like a great trip – must get back to Dartmoor this summer…

  2. Great post and lovely photos. Grew up in Devon and did my first backpacks on Dartmoor, including Ten Tors. It’s a magical place. But yes…that hut on Hangingstone Hill is a right eyesore. The one on Rough Tor was similarly bad last time I was there.

  3. Tavy Cleave is a brilliant place arguably the finest on Dartmoor, a must do indeed. Its a great way of getting to Fur Tor as well. Some great photos in here and lots of blue sky!

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