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So…… the planning begins. With all good plans you need a purpose, a target, an outcome and at least one benefit.
The purpose - To help raise £50,000 for the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Tavistock to purchase a replacement operations vehicle.
The challenge - Visit all the marked tors and some “rocks” (total 170) on the Ordinance Survey map OS28, that’s walking 400km!
The target - Raise £20,000 to help fund the new operations vehicle. A huge target, this is a huge walk and needs a big target!
The Outcome - That’s easy, to complete the walk and raise £20,000
The benefit - Keeping the search and rescue team operational to continue saving lives and help people on and off the moor.
Time to start taking a closer look at this monster of a walk! Over the coming months I will select sections of the route and look at the challenge in a little more detail. If you have the opportunity why wouldn’t you.
First up Yar Tor, Corndon Tor, Bell Tor, Luckey Tor and Hockingston Tor.
I’ve set foot on a lot of the tors over the years but having identified all on the map I realised there are a good number I haven’t visited. I also like to try and create circular walks; I find it really difficult to reach a place and then just back track to the car! Following the lanes can also be very interesting at times, there is some lovely walking between the villages and hamlets.
My starting point for the day took me through Dartmeet to a parking spot half way up the steep hill on the way to Bell Tor corner. Why I parked there I have no idea, it was a very hot day and at the end of the walk having to go that extra distance down the hill was, well, just stupid really. An early albeit small lesson learned!
Yar Tor is an easy target, a straight line from the car to the top and took about 10 minutes. There’s a lot of it so if you go take the time to look around. There is a sizable cairn but suspect some human intervention based on the spiral layout of the stones that now draw you to the middle. Because of the commanding views, you guessed it, an early coffee stop. With no one around apart from ponies it was very relaxing.
Corndon Tor is visible across the road and offers similar views. Depending on your direction you may pass by a memorial close to the road.
Dropping down to the road Ponsworthy is the next stop, a little place but nice. I always find it amusing as cars spin round the corner heading for Dartmeet, there is a gully in the road to allow water to flow and yep you guessed it, they all misjudge it and rattle the spoilers as they cross it. They really should take more care!
Onward to Leusdon, another small hamlet overlooking Blackadon Down which has a nature reserve just below it and above the river Webburn. It’s also where Blackadon Tor sits but that’s for another day. Spinning around right the road took me across Leusdon Down and heading passed Uppercott farm back toward Bell Tor corner. A steep section to focus the mind! Strange, there always seem to be a herd of cows around the top, they always look at me as if I’m some sort of “nutter”. Surprisingly that’s where you will find Bell Tor, unfortunately this one lies in private land so there is no public access, unless you dress up as a sheep!
Now this is where it got interesting. From Bell Tor corner, I walked through the car park and followed the wall toward Sharp Tor. The idea was to follow the road and track to Rowbrook, pick up a track through the grounds and drop down to Luckey Tor. Not a chance. First of all, there is no public track through the Rowbrook anymore so the only choice was to follow the boundary wall all the way around to the other side. While it started out really boggy and banging my head on what seemed like every low branch it opened up giving an easy walk three quarters the way round.
Then the fun started. I was going to find the stream and follow it down to the tor. It was like the “land of the giants”, google it if your younger than forty! The bracken must have been seven foot high with very few tracks through it, ridiculous and a setback.
No option but to smash my way through until I got to the tree line, which to be fair, with a cautious approach wasn’t too bad. After forty-five minutes I finally found Luckey Tor, which didn’t feel that lucky at that point. I also forgot my map! What made it worse someone (I’ll protect the innocent here!) took a picture of the tor just after I left with my map in it! Talk about rubbing it in.
At this point Hockingston was abandoned for another day! Forty-five minutes later I was back at the top. With a slow walk around Sharp Tor, couldn’t be bothered to go over the top, I followed the track and road back to the car.
It all started so easy and what appeared to be very accessible tors on the Dart turned out to be, well, not so easy!
Next time, Luckey Tor from Dartmeet and to get my map back, plus onward to Hockingston.