My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 6

February 20, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

A big challenge deserves a big target, if you would like to support the Dartmoor Search and Rescue team Tavistock the sponsor/donate page is now live. Thank you for your support

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!

Time to find out if hell really is at Heltor rock! (via Blackingstone rock)

My starting point would be Mardon Down at the marked carpark on the map (also free, yippee!). As is my preference where possible I like to set a circular route, well, foiled again as this was another one of those that pretty much ended up with one way in and one way out! In hindsight, I’m not sure why I didn’t bother walking to the top of the Mardon Down to visit the giants grave. I know, I’ll do it on the way back, yeh, like that happened!

OK, let’s get started. This route just like parts of “my five-grand walk” is going to be all in the country lanes. That’s the yellow roads in case you’re wondering!

Turning left out of the car park skirting around the edge of the down you head slightly uphill where you will be immediately rewarded by fantastic views across the valley and into Moretonhampstead, you can’t miss it. A brief stop and the obligatory gaze to say you did it and onward to Doccombe cross and Cosick cross.

Now, you should start to realise that there is nearly always an early coffee stop! Today though, very few good stopping points so over a gate and just inside a field out of the sun for a cuppa. Pick the right spot and you’ll sit looking across the valley with Doccombe and Coombe farm in your sights. Stunning scenery.

On the road again heading toward Blackinstone Rock, apart from the undulating road nothing to really talk about until you reach the rock.

Not been before? Then you need to take the right-hand road to a fairly hidden track up to the rock. The map has one of those blue star things on it indicating a good view point. Climb part of the rock to a man-made staircase to the heavens! (you decide if this spoils it but I guess for safety reasons it was built for easier access) The view is truly magnificent which includes my first sighting of Heltor rock in the distance.

Having had my fill of scenery I continued to Heltor rock along the winding and very hilly road (it certainly warranted those two black arrows on the road!), popping into fields to look back getting a different perspective of Blackinstone. At this point I’m starting to think of what is likely to be a very long excursion off the moor just to pick up Heltor, boy it better be worth it.

Another steep climb up the road and there it stood in front of me, like a ceremonial slab, waiting for the next walking victim to venture up to the alter!

Skirting right at the road junction with the rock in front be careful not to walk past another fairly well-hidden short track up to the top. OK so the views from the top are equally impressive as that other boulder 30 minutes back up the road!

What was really annoying though, someone had left a bottle of drink and a sandwich pack almost untouched at the top. You don’t think the Devil came up from hell and took them as a living sacrifice, do you?

I took a couple of quick pics and didn’t stop for lunch, just in case!

So, does it live up to its name, well, it was a hell of a walk to get there and there was that hardly touched lunch. There’s also a legend that apparently King Arthur and the Devil had nothing better to do one day so they started slinging rocks at each other that ultimately created Blackingstone and Heltor rocks. Now I know Arthur could pull the sword from the stone but looking at the size of those boulders he would have needed a body like the Hulk to toss a few of those bad boys around! Luckily William Crossing tells the story a little better!

The route back was nothing more than backtracking and uneventful however I did take a slight deviation and walked down to Pepperdon Farm, why would I do that? To get an idea of the terrain from the moor to Heltor rock of course.

I shouldn’t have bothered, what I saw is probably the longest stretch of my route without bagging a tor. From Hunters Tor on the top of Lustleigh Cleeve to Pepperdon was a very significant distance and altitude to conquer. I’d rather look at the stunning view than think of walking across it.

This was not going to be easy or much fun, sometimes it’s better not to know what you’re up against. Maybe I could play the exception card and claim that Heltor is just a rock and could be left out? Surely no one would blame me!

Next time – Blackadon Tor and Leigh Tor, they sound safe enough!



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