My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 27

May 12, 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.

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 15 – Manaton Loop

Surely today had to be better than the previous Friday?

It proved to be a bit tricky to get a reasonable loop from Manaton so what I ended up with was a modest 25km.

I managed to get some of the route across the “moor” but a fair bit resulted in connecting these areas up by walking roads and lanes. This will also be very similar to the challenge as some of the tors are separated by private land.

So, off out of the car park and turn right along the first road heading toward Barracott, left toward Heatree Activity Centre. Nothing particularly difficult.

The follow the road down to Heathercombe. This is a lovely little spot with the road going straight through a section of The Two Moors Way. The last time I was there they were replacing the thatch roof, a great craft to watch as the roof is created out of rush! But make the most of any break as what comes next will test the best of legs.

The first target tor of the day was a revisit to King tor, but this means a long steep walk up the Heathercombe break. The wind was once again kicking off and would be around for the rest of the day. With a full-on head wind plus the stiff steep climb this was a tough ask. It was slow, tiring and my pace must have dropped the average by 50%. It was good training for sure.

On leaving King tor the wind was really picking up and the usual buffeting started. Just had to try and get into some sort of momentum and keep going. It was at that point I saw two people, what looked like, they were spending a lot of time looking at a map. I wondered if they needed any assistance so cautiously went across to ask if they were ok.

At that point I realised it was Robert Steemson and his work colleague Tim. Of course, they weren’t lost or needed help. They could probably give me a few lessons if anything. We had a great chat and catch up as we knew each other from DofE days when I used to do it. Doing some erosion surveys in the area I left them to it and headed off to Hookney tor.

From here it’s a simple task of following the path across to Shapley tor, another tor visited on another walk. Then back to Hookney, down into the valley and through Grimspound before facing that head wind up to Hameldown tor. This is a pretty good area for anyone new to the moor as there is a lot of interest in a small compact area.

On a very pleasant day the walk across Hemel Down would be very enjoyable, but that wind. It remains the key factor and impact of the day.

As you drop off the hill on the left as you hit the first section of boundary wall there is a track that leads to a gate with a marked footpath. This leads all the way down through the fields and into Widecombe. A short rest bite from the wind.

A short stop on the bench in the middle of the village and then to face that long steep road that takes you in line with Top tor. A left turn across the grass passed Bonehill rocks and across to Bell tor. There is a track, looks more like a sheep track but is clear and allows a straight line to be walked to Bell tor.

Chinkwell and Honeybag tors follow. For those not aware make sure you don’t short change yourself at Honeybag tor. When you think you have made it, continue a bit further, there is another outcrop a bit further on!

From Honeybag tor there are a number of tracks leading away to reach Houndtor Down, but don’t take the one that handrails the boundary wall, you’ll end up in a boggy mess! Once you reach the road turn left and over the cattle grid. A few meters further on the right there is a gate with a footpath leading across the field, take this and hang left to avoid walking on the road. Take some time to look back across the valley at Haytor in the distance and all the surrounding tors, a great view.

At the end of this path, you come back onto the open access land again with Greator rocks in front of you and Hound tor to your left.  Another great area to explore.

Just a simple job now of dropping down from Hound tor to the road and following it to Great Hound tor YHA and then onward and back to Manaton church car park. Remember to put you pound in their collection box for parking!


In terms of stats, I remained within my average tolerances. Average trip speed 3km per hour and average walking speed of 4.7km per hour. Considering the wind and some of the hills I faced on the route I’m pretty pleased with that. It was a hard nine hours to get 25km, this meant the wind had probably added in more stopping time. I guess to get the full 30km in for the day I could have kept going for another hour.


All in all, a satisfactory walk.



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