My Biggest Dartmoor Challenge EVER! Blog 11

April 03, 2021  •  1 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.

 

And we’re back on the moor!

Phase 2 of my training plan has been triggered with the ability to get out and back on the moor.

Phase 1 was all about walking the local lanes and step-up training in the garage, now life gets a bit more interesting and visually stimulating.

With a day pack of around 5kg it’s time to get some 30 km plus walking in which I haven’t been able to do for some time.

Phase three will be to keep the 30km distance and get my bag weight up to 20kg followed by phase four of 30km plus with a fully loaded pack, currently standing at 35kg (70lb) for training purposes.

Parking just below Wind tor I took the road North of the tor into Widecombe, it’s a steep blighter and immediately felt it on the knees as I headed down the hill, not a good sign so early on. Through the village listening to the church bells ring, with surprisingly hardly anyone out and about, which is great for keeping my imposed social distance!

Out the other side and up the equally steep exit road heading for Hollow tor, weirdly it often feels easier climbing a hill rather than walking down it!

There’s a trio of tors here which will be good for morale on the challenge, bagging a few in one go. I also detoured slightly to have a look around Turnhill rocks, never been over there and worth a revisit with the camera one day. Pil tor then Top tor however these need to swap around in order as the next target is Welstor rock and taking a compass bearing line of site is far easier to depart from Pil tor, this avoids tramping through what will be a very over grown gorse area, slowing me down and getting a free acupuncture session on the way.

Once past Foyles settlement, which is very clear to see I continued down to the Blackslade ford following a clear and easy to walk path, just after the ford I turned right to follow what looked like a track but ended up walking through more gorse so following the path to the road is probably the sensible option. From that point it’s a very comfortable walk to Welstor rocks and those well known Ten Commandment stones. Always tempted to add an eleventh, thou shalt not fail!

The next tors, Rippon, Bag, Haytor rocks, Holwell, Saddle are very well known to a lot of people and are very easy to navigate around. Surprisingly again the area was not really busy so the message about crowds etc had definitely had an impact.

The hill up to Rippon tor is not hugely difficult but with a full pack will probably test the legs as it takes a while to get to the top. The route to Bag tor I think is really nice but don’t go over the open land below the tor as this is very time-consuming picking your way through the gorse, bracken and pits dotted all over the place. Drop down to the wall and hand rail it until a gap allows you to hand rail it the other side. Saves loads of time. Head to the trees ahead and turn left, you get great views of the small stream and Bag tor ahead.

Then just follow the tracks around the remaining tors drop down to the road again after Saddle tor and round to the Seven Lords Land cairn.

You can then either follow the road or walk on the “grass” on the way to Bell tor. Bell, Chinkwell and Honeybag tor are all easy to navigate and visit but Chinkwell does make you work for the glorious views you get when you get there!

Hound tor next, but there is no direct route, hand railing the wall was the obvious choice, so I did. Bad choice, even in the relatively dry spell this was not an area you want to walk through, wet, tuffty and boggy with no easy way through! Plan B, back track to higher ground and pick up a track that runs parallel with the wall all the way round to the road. Taking this route, you get a view on the left of the almost impassable if you followed the wall around. It was also very, very tempting to cross the field, a wide-open field and flat as you like, trouble is, it’s private land so a no go, just as well as the farmer was in there working!

Hound tor to Jay’s grave is simple and needs no advice or does the footpath from Jay’s grave to Natsworthy Manor, other than it’s a lovely path to walk with the sun shining through the trees at about five pm.

On the opposite side of the road there is a footpath that takes you up onto Hamel Down, I’ve never walked this section before so was very interested to see where it went, apart from the obvious, Hamel Down! I was heading initially to Hameldown tor however the track splits and knowing I was eventually turning South I took the left-hand track. This took me to Grey Wethers and the memorial stone, again, heard of it and surprisingly never walked past it, until now.

Continuing following the track I ended up at Broad Barrow which was fine as I was on the track back to the car I was ultimately heading for, just took off Hameldown tor. Now on familiar ground from days of leading silver Duke of Edinburgh teams it was a straight and easy walk back over the hill line back to Wind tor and a drop down to the waiting car.

Overall, in the sunshine and dry weather not a difficult day to navigate, a few hill challenges but an enjoyable days walk. What was even better, with a couple of small detours I clocked up 35 km, result!

 


Comments

Justin Moors(non-registered)
Great post Chris, sounds like a great day and what a result hitting 35kms. This really highlights what a huge challenge you are undertaking and testament to the effort and dedication you are putting in.
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