My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 22

April 29, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

A big challenge deserves a big target, if you would like to support the Dartmoor Search and Rescue team Tavistock visit the link below. Thank you for your support.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mybiggestdartmoorchallengeever

Target - Raise £20,000 to help fund the new operations vehicle.

A 400 km hike across 170 tors and rocks on the Dartmoor OS OL28 map raising funds to replace their failing operations vehicle.

 

Training day 10 – Cadover Bridge Loop

This walk should be a relatively straight forward walk and more about endurance than anything else. It does have an area with five tors in it, which are all reasonably close to each other but beyond that there is plenty of distance to cover to the next ones.

From Cadover Bridge I came out of the car park and headed toward the bridge. Just before it I turned up the road and continued until reaching a footpath sign directing you through the clay pits. This ultimately takes you to Hawkes’s tor. It’s an easy walk on tarmac to the path and turns into pretty much a clay/gravel path. On the challenge day I’ll be approaching from Shaugh Prior so won’t be taking this part of the walk.

Hawkes’s tor is small but looks good looking up at it from the hill below, it also has some pretty good views down toward the Shaugh bridge direction.

From here a simple path takes you to Collard tor, this is not so impressive and really looks nothing more than a pile of rocks. I sometimes wonder how this is marked on the map with much more impressive ones being left off!

 

Now on the challenge itself, to get some to some of the tors there is the need to walk on connecting roads to pick up a path or moor access point to visit them. Blackalder is one such tor, so following the road out of Lee Moor keep going until you reach a bus shelter and then shoot up the hill to your left, back on yourself on the track and it sits directly above you on your right. A great outcrop but it is covered by trees so not a huge view from here.

Back down to the road and continue to follow until you pass Whitehill tor on the right. There is a path that takes you below it if you want to explore all the way round it but there is plenty of access to it from the road side. This gives great views over the clay pit workings if that’s your sort of scenery!

Back onto the road and not far on the right is a footpath leading you across the fields up to Crownhill tor. Apart from the views, this in my view is not very interesting. From the front it looks ok but the back of the tor disappears into the hill.

Depending when you visit Crownhill tor you may need encounter a field of cows and sheep. Now sheep will never cause an issue, they’re quite happy running away from you. However, having read a few articles on cows chasing people I suddenly became a little more aware of my surroundings. A herd of “black” cows and a heard of Belted Galloways. If I was to get to Crownhill tor, I would need to walk through this lot twice, there and back!

Not normally worried by them my mind did slightly change when the nearest cow suddenly stood up, ears pricked forward in a very bolt upright position. Yep, looked like it may just want to have some fun at my expense. What made it worse is every other cow in turn started to stand up and started to walk rather briskly toward me.

I started walking a lot quicker, just in case you understand. That’s when the Belted Galloways decided to join in. Blimey, it seemed like the whole lot of them were interested in tagging on behind me. I did check my bag later just to see if I had a sign on it saying follow me!

Made it to the gate and promptly shut it behind me as they started to lose interest. Getting back was just as interesting although they had dispersed a bit and didn’t show quite the same level of interest, much to my relief.

Apart from that it was an easy tor to visit!

Now for a bit of a long walk. Back at the road and crossing over there is a footpath that runs parallel with the road through some woodland taking you to a car park at Heathfield Down. It is actually a very pleasant walk and saves walking on the road which is what I thought I needed to do, so a good find, I think. It is also part of a long stretch to Rook tor.

Following the road up through Roberts Brake and on through the bridal path up to West Rook Gate. It’s a steepish hill and with a full bag I did make a couple of “mini” stops until I reached the gate to stop for lunch before the next climb to Penn Beacon. I’ve done this before and a direct line walk up I think is pretty steep.

It didn’t disappoint, the wind had picked up again and blowing in from the right, it was more frustrating really as it caught the bag throwing me off balance several times as I put my head down to make the climb up the hill.

At this point at the top of Penn Beacon the wind was strong again and it felt very chilly so not hanging around I continued along a very visible path to Shell Top. From there I continued to the next trig point.

I have to say that while nothing extraordinary happened and navigationally there were no challenges between Crownhill tor and the trig point beyond Shell Top, it was a very long walk without bagging much in the way of tors.

On the challenge I may actually be thankful of that!

For those familiar with the area, you will be very aware there isn’t anything too difficult to drop down to Hen tor and across to the two Trowlesworthy tors. What I did notice was how spongy every was in that area. Not sopping wet but dried out bog material, which when it gets wet will provide a considerable challenge to pick a route through what would be tuft grass, bracken and some extensive boggy areas. The whole area was just waiting for the rain to deliver that challenge to any unsuspecting walker.

However, on this walk nothing more than hopping through the grass and over a couple of very low streams, Hentor Brook and Spanish Lakes.

All that remained now was to take a route back to Trowlesworthy house over the footbridge of the leat and follow the road back to the car park.

It was a mixed day on how I was doing really. I had a really good start and covered some good distance in some good time, which made me feel really good. Then the climb from the road up the hill past Rook tor, Shell Top to the trig seemed to take it out of me, almost like the moor was letting me know I’m not going to get this all my own way! The last section back to the car just seemed, well, I nearly said boring, but I guess more like just a plod!

There are a number of days that will be very similar to this walk, so it was a good walk to help decide how I’ll need to set my head to overcome some very long walking spells of “just plodding” and stepping out the distance.

That said I went a bit further than expected with a little detour along the way and covered 24.7 km with an average trip speed of 3.5 km per hour including stops and an average walking speed of 4.7 km per hour.

So, in hindsight I guess I did better than I thought with walking times just above my current averages. But it didn’t feel like it overall!

 


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