My biggest Dartmoor challenge EVER - Blog 36

June 10, 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 24 – Cox Tor Loop

The second consecutive walk with 30 kilos to establish what the impact would be with potentially tired legs from the previous day!

The target distance was a minimum of 20 km to get a reasonable comparison with a start and finish point of Pork Hill car park below Cox tor.

I wasn’t intending to walk up to the top of Cox tor this time but around the base to get some distance in. So, heading off in a North Westerly direction along a path that was just about visible, also marked on the map, until I reached the road at Coxtor. I was looking to head toward Youlditch and down to Harragrove via the bridle path between the fields.

First oversight! I spotted the bridal path entrance and headed for it. What I was a little careless with was the fact there are a few “paths” you could follow and unfortunately, I turned a little too early.

It was odd because I have done this section before and as I entered the bridle path something didn’t line up. I thought of turning back and repositioning as it wasn’t far back but decided as I needed the distance I would carry on and see how quickly I could identify and reposition to get back on track.

 

Following the road around to the right, the general direction I needed to go, I compared the actual road direction, turns and elevations with the map and soon identified where I had dropped off the moor onto the road.

I had actually taken the early turn and headed to Headlands. Not a major issue just added a bit of distance. It wasn’t long before I passed Harragrove and spotted the familiar footpath on the right just after the farm buildings. This led me through the field systems to a path junction marked by a post sign below Cox tor and above Great Combe tor.

It could be easily confusing if you’re looking for Great Combe tor as there is an outcrop of rock on your right as you approach the sign post. You could easily think that was Great Combe tor, that is until you reach the post sign that points down hill to your left and fits nicely with the map!

Great Combe tor is then a couple of fields away and following the path soon comes into sight. It was then I realised I had been here before but approached from Peter Tavy.

At this time of year, the Hawthorn is out in its full glory, and what a sight it delivers, absolutely stunning with the view extending out across the valley.

The path continues down the steep side of the valley into Peter Tavy, with its twists and turns it makes a really nice route to follow. Following the Colly Brook and over the footbridge and turn right into the centre of Peter Tavy. This is also a lovely area to explore with lots to see, if you’re lucky you may find the bench available to sit and grab a coffee! Continue through up toward the church and take the footpath left toward the pub, some might prefer this to the bench!

It’s a reasonably long path that will come to a gate with Longtimber tor on your left but you have to leave the path, slightly double back on yourself and turn right in the field to reach it. It’s definitely worth a visit, a lovely spot and a place to swim if that’s your thing!

Some quick snaps, a water break and back on the track over the footbridge to Whitestone and the church. There are four tors in this area however all fall in private land so the challenge criteria of getting as close as possible means taking the footpath that runs parallel with the river Tavy through the fields. I have often thought of walking this so decided to make this the preferred route.

Up through the graveyard and follow the rather new looking sign posts, easy to follow which is good. Past a Chy, through a field with some horses and into a field full of cows. Oops, this will be interesting, double checking at this point, the only bit that provided some possible doubt on the direction, I confirmed I had to walk straight past them.

As I tucked as close to the hedge as possible and tried to sneak across the field the obvious happened. They spotted me! Showing a little too much interest in my view. Now, I’m not exactly afraid of cows but some of the recent publicity around them meant giving them a degree of respect and space. A little tricky when they seem bent on heading straight for you mooing for all they’re worth. Time to quicken the pace, only I couldn’t see the exit point. Heck, had I really gone into the wrong field?

At this point they were trotting and getting quicker heading for me as I scanned the hedge for the exit. I could see what looked like half a style on the top of the wall/hedge before I realised the access to it was protruding stones built into the wall. Phew, not a moment too soon as I climbed the five stone steps and scrambled over. Glancing back, it looked like there was a whole herd convention going on, everyone of them had trotted over to see what the fuss was about, personally, didn’t care, I was off over and across the next field!

The next few fields looked like the styles were up and over walls and with a full pack I decided to take the easier option and take the bridal path past Midlands connecting up with the road to Horndon. From here it’s down to the river Tavy following the road to the right that turns into a metaled path all the way down to the river and over a decent size bridge. Another great stopping place when the sun is out.

Once across the bridge there are two options, follow the metaled path up to the left to the road or take a right along the marked footpath to the road.

I’ve done the left turn so this time took the right footpath. Nice and easy although some may say a little steep but just brings you out onto the road closer to Cudliptown that happens to be the next check point.

Take a left here following the road uphill and look out for the first footpath on the right, it’s not completely obvious so make sure you get a rough idea of distance up the road or you could miss it. This goes up the side of the valley through fields and pops out just to the left of Boulters tor. It looks a little confused to me with not much shape and looks more like a pile of rocks. Apparently not granite as in South moor as I was advised by a geography teacher there!

Without a full pack the next section is pretty straight forward following the visible path to Stephen’s grave up to White tor and onto the standing stone just inside the MOD firing zone.

With the weather still very warm and sunny Roos tor is easily visible and almost a straight-line walk. You can make out a track all the way up rather than walk across the tufts. It’s still a fairly arduous walk up hill. Great Staple tor is very close and only takes a few minutes to walk across between the two great stacks. A very impressive tor. Time was ticking on and I really wanted to try and get 21 km at the average 3 km per hour trip time. A quick break as the climb had got the heart pumping and off again.

Down to the water hole between Great Staple tor and Cox tor, only surprisingly it had all dried out again following the water deluge we had recently. Next a simple job of picking out the faint trail around the base of Cox tor before heading back to the car.

It is a little surprising how long it takes to walk around the base of Cox tor. It’s not until to do it you realise how big an area Cox tor and its hill covers. It’s also very rocky on the lower West side which I’m sure has a lower Cox tor in there somewhere, I’m sure someone will put me straight.

Overall, I felt like I had walked reasonably well despite the last 45 minutes around Cox tor causing the feet to ache and the shoulder to burn a bit. Now to check to see if I had done as well as I think I might have!

 

Stats,

Total distance 23 km

Total trip time 7.7 hours duration

Average trip time 3 km per hour

Average moving speed 4.8 km per hour

 

Defiantly pleased with that, a couple more 20 km walks and I may be ready to plan the next distance of 25km. Let’s see how next week pans out.

 


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