My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 30

May 24, 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 18 – Chagford Loop

This was day one of three consecutive training walks as the next stage of testing if the body is able to cope with back-to-back walking days. OK, so I need to do fourteen in total but at least this was a start! Starting from and finishing at Chagford, this I think was going to be a tough test with some significant hills and slopes to climb. I was also aiming to walk a good thirty kilometres.

With the narrow streets of Chagford I decided, unusually for me, that I should park in the car park, and pay! £3 all day wasn’t that bad really.

Leaving the car park, I headed through the main street and down to the river Teign, a sharp hill which I wasn’t sure if it was worse walking down or up. Following the road around to the right and over a narrow and old looking bridge, it certainly wasn’t built for cars. Taking the next left the road suddenly took a very steep incline on the way to Murchington. In fact, there is a couple of really tough hills to reach it, a very small place that you soon walk through.

From there it’s a simple route to follow the road to Gidleigh, again while a really nice road/lane to walk it has some punishing hills to walk. At the top of the hill approaching Gidleigh continue past the turning on the right where the phone box is and look for a bridle path on the left.

This takes you into North Park and looking for Gidleigh Tor.

Be careful not to take the wrong right turn otherwise you’ll end up in a bit of private land, I’ve done it before and stumbled across an old Scimitar car. Haven’t seen one for a long time.

You should continue until to reach a clearing. There is a forestry route off left and a footpath just to the right (at about one o’clock), plus a wide path to your actual right. To reach the tor it’s the actual right turn and wide path you need. The footpath at approx. one o’clock as you approach is the one you’ll need to descend to the river.

Gidleigh tor I think is quite impressive as it looks over the valley and has some impressive views. It’s a reasonable distance up the path so don’t give up too early!

Backtrack to the footpath now on your right that takes you down through the woods to the river, keep going until you reach a footbridge. The bridge is very obvious so you shouldn’t miss it. It’s a nice spot and on this occasion the river was very full and flowing fast. From here I’m heading out onto the open moor to reach Scorhill tor.

It’s a steep climb out of the valley and I confess with the pack I did need to take a couple of mini breathers! At the top when reaching the road turn right and follow it all the way onto the moor. It seems a longish stretch but look out for a very impressive stone circle on your right before you reach Batworthy.

While the terrain is pretty easy to Batworthy corner and the North Teign river the ground was very wet and soggy which made it a little bit more awkward than usual. There’s plenty to investigate around this area, some very good stone rows, cairns, boundary stones, stone circles and clapper bridges. You could spend a fair bit of time here!

Anyway, being on a bit of a time mission I headed around the corner to Scorhill tor. It was getting a bit windy, not blustery but enough to need shelter to have a coffee stop.

The last time I was in this area I tried to follow the Wellabrook on the South side and found it totally impossible due to the saturated ground. This time expecting the same I tried the North side. I was really surprised, despite the rain it did seem possible to take a straight line route to Rippator (Rival) tor. Yeh, possible but quite slow going as I got further into the “level” it became very boggy and ended up tuft hopping. Another day it may have been fun but not today, next time I’ll stick to the path and take a sharp left as I get closer.

Now, on route to Watern tor there appears to be a choice of potential paths that take you in different directions. I ended up catching up a large group of guided led walkers that ultimately headed off toward Hound tor, should I follow or break off and take my own route?

We all filtered across Gartavan Ford and that’s where I decided to hang left. I wanted a positive marker so decided to head for the boundary stone. An easy one to spot in good visibility from which I took a sharp right down the hill to pick up a path that headed clearly to the river and up to Watern tor. I followed that one!

It’s another relatively easy route to the tor but it does mean you climb up the steep side, which is OK, just a bit steep!

I have also tried to take a direct line between Rippator and Watern, to see how possible it is if I had to navigate a straight line in the fog. My advice, don’t do it! It is very hard going, very boggy, you have to cross the Gallaven and Wella brooks and you could end up in real trouble if the weather is poor. It’s just not worth the risk in my view.

On approaching Watern tor you still need to cross the Wella Brook but there are a lot easier places to cross just below the tor and much safer too.

The wind was still an issue and with no one at the tor finding a sheltered spot for lunch wasn’t difficult.

Wild tor is not far away, just drop back down to the river and cross back in the same place, up a sharp bank and head across the open moor to Wild tor. There are some terrific views in this area, while the wind was blowing a bit the sun was out and it was perfect walking weather. Not wanting to hang around too long I started looking for Hound tor.

Now, things got a bit weird at this point. I should have been able to pick Hound tor out with ease, but I just couldn’t spot it. It’s a while I looked for it from Wild tor and expected to find a sizable tor. There’s one, I thought, so I started out for it. Then something stopped me in my tracks along the lines of, this just doesn’t fit!

There’s a hut on this tor and I remembered a discussion in the Facebook Dartmoor 365 group, Steeperton has a hut on it! Blimey, that’s a bit of an oversight. I still couldn’t see Hound tor, how odd. OK, map and compass out, bearing secured, direction set. This felt better and fitted with my overall direction that needed to go over Kennon Hill. Oh, and there was Hound tor, almost buried and hidden by the grass and earth. Really not that visible, I didn’t think, maybe it’s just me. But it does bring to the fore the need to be aware of your position, in this case and some may argue, I had an instinctive feeling I was heading in the wrong direction, went back the short distance and re-established my direction.

I was sort of glad to reach Hound tor and get that “blip” out of my system. I was going to continue to Little Hound tor but wondered if a straight line over Kennon Hill is possible. I’ve always walked round it in the past thinking it was way too boggy. It wouldn’t drop much of the route so decided to go over the hill.

Dropping off Hound tor I walked straight into a herd of cows, here we go, too late to change direction. All close together there was nothing else for it, pretend I was a farmer! With clapping hands and some weird noises, I managed to slot my way passed them.

It was surprisingly easy, wet, yes and spongy in places but not difficult. A longish walk to get to Throwleigh common, yes, but nothing difficult. I was happy with that and would make it easier on the actual challenge to take a straight line.

Shilston tor next and another coffee spot, I felt like I needed it! Still needing to get out of the wind I found a nice sheltered spot looking back toward Chagford, there was some fantastic views and I could have spent a long time just soaking it up. I also spotted where Ensworthy was, I’ve seen a lot of bluebell posts about it and now know where it is. Just thought I would mention that!

From Shilston tor it was a simple lane walk back to Chagford through some incredibly nice lanes and villages. Shilston, Throwleigh, Wonson, Providence Place, Blackaton Copse, Murchington and back through Chaford to the car park. Being sheltered from the wind in the lanes and the sun now out in full beam it was a really pleasant walk back to the car.

A very good day overall and a route I guess a lot of people have walked, although maybe not quite the extended one I completed?

Day two and three however would be very different if the weather forecast was to deliver on its promise!

 

Stats,

Total distance 32 km

Total trip time 10.5 hours duration

Average trip time 3.1 km per hour

Average moving speed 4.8 km per hour

 

 


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