My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 35

June 06, 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 23 – Burrator Loop

Second consecutive day with the 30-kilo buddy on my back! My passage to a successful 14-day challenge.

This was going to be a test, after a tiring day yesterday I was hoping to cover at least 20 km and I was expecting this to be a long old day.

The weather was warm already on arrival at Burrator reservoir with a gentle breeze. Anyone who knows me will be aware that me and heat do not mix well. Which may not bode well for August!

First target was Peek Hill, so up the hill to the left bank of the road facing the reservoir and onto one of the tracks that lead into the woods. Don’t stop at the first track as I did and blindly follow it before realising, I needed to go up to the second track, the one I really wanted. Not the best start, but at least I realised pretty quickly!

I did however spot the new mobile mast that has recently been built. From what I’ve heard I thought it would look worse than it did. OK, so it’s not ideal but unless you walk that path it is pretty well hidden and the unit holding the kit and power is cladded in wood that will tone down after a few months. It could have been a lot worse!

Following the track and then the leat into Peek Hill plantation and out the other side is a pleasant walk. The minute you exit the trees there is a track on the left that handrails the boundary wall to the brow of the hill. At the corner a sharp right will take you to the top of Peek Hill. It has fantastic views over Burrator. With the weather set to be bright, sunny and warm it was the perfect picture, and time for an early water stop.

Sharpitor and Leather tor are both impressive and easy to reach from Peek Hill and naturally didn’t take long to reach both.

Dropping down the hill from Sharpitor and following the boundary wall of Stanlake plantation I was on my way to the Devonport Leat and the point it crosses the river Meavy using the aqueduct. Up the steep Raddick hill to continue following the leat.

But not before having a snack at the foot of the aqueduct in preparation for the climb. Yep, the bag weight already making itself known across the shoulders. Legs at this point were tired from the previous day but doing ok, shoulders though, burning! Just saying in case you think I have this in the bag and finding it easy!

The idea was to follow the leat past the location of Crazy Well pool and locate the furthest restored cross, on the right-hand side of the leat and the footpath. The visibility was excellent so a careful scan of the distant area it wasn’t difficult to spot the cross. It was small but visible.

Crossing the leat on one of the many footbridges I continued to follow the leat with a view to lining up with the cross and taking a 90 degree drop to Newlycombe Lake to find a crossing point. I was walking further up to the head of the lake/river as trying to cross below the field systems previously was very difficult, particularly in wet weather. I needed to be sure I could get across the river as any detours would add way too much time on the day of the challenge.

Two things that actually made it a bit easier. A herd of cows were flanking the leat with some stood in it cooling their feet I assumed. Not usually an issue however I noticed a number of young calf’s and not wanting to chance it decided to drop down the hill a fair bit earlier than I originally anticipated.

This meant I skirted around the considerable tin mine workings in the area and saved having to negotiate around the large craters.

Using my personal logic of follow the track and the poo and it’ll take you where you need to go, I followed a track down to Newlycombe Lake. The last few meters included a sharp short drop of a bank but nothing horrific. A quick scout either direction and a narrow, the only narrow area I could find, presented itself for an easy crossing. This I decided would also be easy to cross even if the water levels were high. Good news.

Time for lunch before I headed up the steep hill and tufts of grass toward Down tor. Sat out of the breeze and hearing nothing other than the river babbling past with the birds singing I could have sat there for some time lazing in the sun. Only problem, I had a mission to complete, get 30 kilos around 20 km and try to maintain my average timings.

Off up the hill, and yep, it proved to be a hill. I was hoping for an easier and quicker climb than I got. Following more cattle tracks it seemed to take an age to get off the contour and start gaining height to try and make an easy flat walk to Down tor. By the time I made it to anything like level ground I was almost at Down tor.

From previous blogs you will know I love Down tor as it has fantastic views and the with the lower outcrops provides some stunning landscape images for the decerning photographer! I also bumped into some visitors from the Isle of White and had a great interesting chat. That with snack stop meant I probably spent to much down time again, a common practice that will have to stop on the challenge, but it was a beautiful day so what the heck!

Down to Norsworthy bridge and immediate left at the car park to pick up the path flanking Middleworth plantation heading toward Deancombe. A sharp right over the Narrator brook using the footbridge, don’t go straight on toward Cuckoo rock, and up the hill to the corner of Roughtor plantation. At the corner swing right and follow the wall until you reach a gate at the foot of Sheepstor on your left and the plantation on your right. This was a welcome break out of the sun and chance for another water break and to cool off.

Continuing on, the route was easy to follow and not difficult under foot, just a small degree of care when walking over some of the rocks and stones that appear from time to time. All the way round, there is a post directing you to Sheepstor village so you don’t turn off too early, to a gate to a road that you take left to enter the village.

Another chance to get the bag off my shoulders and time out by the church. The weather was still warm for me, for most probably just nice, and the legs were starting to tire again with the shoulders still straining and pulling.

From Sheepstor village the next target was the Merchants cross. Go left from the church take the next road immediate right and just round the bend take the sign posted footpath past the farm building. This takes you through some fields, Burrator woods, past Yeo farm, down a track to the cross. I haven’t walked that route for some time and forgotten how nice it is wandering down through the woods. With no else around it was very quiet.

Down the hill and over the narrow bridge into Meavy, it’s easier to walk over the bridge than it is to drive! Its quite a steep midpoint enough to make you slow down if you’re driving to avoid scrapping the side of your car. If you want to cool your feet than wading through the ford is always an option.

Keeping right the final leg is a footpath through a field and a track that follows the river Meavy which in effect is the overflow and the water from the reservoir plus some brooks that feed into it. I guess it’s the Meavy because if you look at the map, at the very back end of the reservoir the Meavy flows in, so I guess the dam was essentially built across the river.

The path is relatively straight and easy to walk but going up hill back to the old toilet block that still stands but not in use now. Through the gate at the top and back to the car.


Overall, I made 21.5 km which was the target distance but it took me an extra hour to complete it dropping the average times down more than all previous walks. I guess the bag weight is having a real impact. At the least the average moving time was reasonable but all those “mini stops” had built up along with a couple of extended chats. I’m definitely going to need to keep an eye on the time and stopping frequency on the next walk.

It was a tough day and I’m not afraid to admit it. Plenty to do if I’m going to achieve this without a food drop. As I still need to cover 30km with a full load I’m starting to feel I could run out of time. Hopefully the next attempt will be a little better.



Total distance 21.5 km

Total trip time 8.00 hours duration

Average trip time 2.6 km per hour

Average moving speed 4.5 km per hour




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