My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 29

May 16, 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 17 – Hexworthy Loop

A parking spot next to the river opposite Huccaby house was todays start point. I was looking to walk roughly 30km to make up for yesterday’s shortfall!

To get warmed up and started I decided to follow the road into Dartmeet carpark to take the path around the contours of Yar tor. Weird thing of the day, a flipping peacock jumped off a fence and started parading in front of me. Not what you expect to see on the moor. Eventually I got passed and continued along the river, nice and easy despite being very wet.

After 30 minutes I thought, I had better get to the top of the hill to head to Sherwell. I’d left it late to gain height as I followed the wall up, it was steep and wet, it was a bit of a struggle. Why do I always make life difficult for myself?

What I hadn’t realised at the top, there was a gate marked as the footpath through the fields, always good to find something new. So, I followed that down to the stream to a footbridge leading to the road. Just as well I grabbed the rail. The wooden floor of the bridge was sopping wet and slippery like an ice rink. I almost went flying. That would have been the end of the walk before I really got started!

Anyway, onto the road and left to Babeny where the riding stables are. I could see someone practising what looked like dressage. It’s a surprisingly longish slope up to the access gate, so head down and tried not to stop.

From there it’s an easy path to follow down to the East Dart river where I was expecting to cross using the stepping stones. Now, at this point, rather stupidly I hadn’t really considered the stones may not be passable.

As I stood on the first stone I pondered for a while, could I actually make the steps, or more like jumps. I chickened out, with my sense of balance and the bag with the capacity to lurch and send me swimming I decided not to risk it. But then, surely, I could make the gaps? Back for another look, hmm, really not sure about this. The second and third stone were very pointy and would require stepping on and instantly jumping off to the flat fourth stone. It was the gap that got me thinking again, it was more than just a leg stretch. I then looked further across and saw the river rolling over two of the flatter stones two thirds in.

OK, after long deliberation, common sense hit me and I decided, being on my own, the risk was too great. Plan B required. Luckily Belliver bridge although it put some distance on to go up and back, it could have been worse. The bridge it is then.

Lunch on one of the picnic tables, there was no one else there when I sat down. Next stop Laughter tor. The rain was threatening all morning but stopped for a while so decided to continue without wearing water proofs. Less than 50 meters walked and then it tipped down, typical. On with the gear and set off up the path past Laughter Hole farm to the tor. A bit disappointing really, looks a bit flat and hidden into the side of the slope.

Round the corner was a totally different tor, Belliver tor, a mighty impressive one at that. If the weather had been better, I may have looked around. Time was also a factor and I needed to get moving. Following the path down in a Easterly direction and passing through the boundary wall I turned left to follow a path to the main road. Crossing this put me on the path to Powder Mills allowing me to take a straight line up to Ash tor.

From there, rather than drop back down to the path I took a straight line on top of the hill and headed for the corner of the boundary wall, a simple job of walking left along the wall to reach the gate on the path through the mills. Another location that will need more time for some decent images one day.

Through the fields of Powder Mills and out the other side. Following the path for about half of it I veered of left through the gorse to track through some open space taking me just to the right of Littaford tor. It looks very different from this angle of approach. A simple path to follow onto Crockern to and down to the road by Parson’s cottage.

I wasn’t sure if I could get through the wall further up the road to pick up the path to cross Muddylake, so a short piece of road walking to ensure I found the gate. I’ve always wondered how accessible it is to walk across Muddylake and today I was about to find out.

Despite the rain and the soggy ground, it was surprisingly easy to cross the expanse to reach the other main road to Dartmeet. A river close to the far end of the path was a final hurdle to overcome, the passing point should have been a small ford, but with all the rain it was rather full. Sometime wandering up and down to find a suitable crossing point and I was on my way.

Back a short distance on the road and across the cattle grid into Prince Hall hotel. The footpath through the grounds takes you down to the West Dart river, fortunately there is a substantial bridge across the river so no repeat of the East Dart stepping stones challenge. This is a beautiful spot, especially by the bridge, take a look one day.

Staying on the path through the gate onto the open moor again. Now here’s an interesting bit of detail. Coming from the direction explained and following the path you will eventually come to a crossroads of paths, with a wooden post stuck in the ground. Now I’m pretty sure looking at a GPS fix this is not where it is indicated on the map (I will revisit and confirm) so you have to be alert depending on the direction you wish to take. I know for a fact the path indicated on the map heading for the field system around the Swincombe intake is not where the path is on the ground! Just letting you know!

Anyway, following the track away from Prince Hall and continuing straight ahead will take you down to a path that looks like an old lane and onto the Swincombe river bridge. So, while the technical positioning may be in question you shouldn’t miss the river crossing by the bridge.

As you come off the bridge look for a way post ahead of you that takes you up over the hill and down back into Hexworthy. At the end of the day with tired legs and feet that last steep downhill road to Huccaby house is a real, well, bugger! Which is all forgotten when you reach the car.

 

With the varied terrain and diversion required I was happy to make just short of 30km, I had enough in the tank to do another few kilometre. More downtime this trip, I think mainly due to map reading and some extended chats around Belliver bridge. It would be rude to ignore people when they speak to you after all. It also sets out potentially the worse case scenario with regard to distance versus time.

As this was the second consecutive day, I felt pretty good and was happy to get the body through the next test. Next week, three consecutive days, need to ramp it up a bit!

 

Stats,

Total distance 28.5 km

Total trip time 9.7 hours duration

Average trip time 2.9 km per hour

Average moving speed 4.8 km per hour

 


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