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 30 – Dartmoor Inn Loop
There are some days you wake up and think, do I really want to do this today?
Today was one of those days, knowing what was coming and listening to the rain pour down while eating breakfast, I could have easily stayed at home and deferred to another day!
A quick mail update, wow, another three donations providing a good jump forward in the overall figure.
Well, that’s it then, I just have to get my self out there and get on with it. It’s no longer just about me anymore!
The planned route was just shy of 25 km and with the weather forecast of 90% rain most of the day with a growing wind, this should be a suitable test.
The layby just past the Dartmoor Inn this time had plenty of space. The weather on the way out was very variable as I sat in the car pondering if I should gear up with a full set of waterproofs ready for the forecasted onslaught of weather.
Enough, stop trying to delay the inevitable, gear up, bag on and go!
Walking up a small section of the road back toward Tavistock and opposite a farm shop there is a track big enough for a car that leads you up to and through a gate and past a car park on the right. The moor sits right in front of you, Brat tor with Widgery Cross towering above you, taunting you to test your stamina on the climb up the hill.
Today however, I’m walking the track toward Arms tor but turning left just before you reach the end of the wall on your left, a style, probably one of the better built ones gets you over the wall and the finger post directs you diagonally across the field to the left corner of the field. Again, if you are wary of cows check before you climb, very often this filed is full of them!
Once at the other side go through the gate and immediately turn right and go through another gate back onto the open access land.
You can if you want to avoid any cows continue to the stream and turn left following the wall and the stream (don’t cross the stream) until you reach the same gate mentioned above.
Right in front of you is some sort of covered area, not sure what it is, I guess someone will know. Turn left and follow a well defined and easy to walk path. This does split just as you approach Great Nodden, I walked up and over the hill previously so this time I decided to veer left and follow the path that skirted around the bottom left of the hill.
The weather at this point was frustrating really, not the down pour forecast but enough rain to get you wet without waterproofs on. My new leggings ready for a good test rustled as I approached a herd of cows looking up wondering what the rustling (no not the stealing kind of rustling!) was all about! Not interested they carried on walking away from me eating as they went, ideal.
The path is very clear for a fair distance but then changes between Coombe and Lake Down to a grass track, this veers left and heads for Sourton tors. With good visibility just head for the top of the hill. In poor weather a bearing where the stone/gravel path runs out to Sourton is advisable.
Following the now grass track you cross a sort of gert or long extended ditch heading down the hill, once over this a straight line to the top is straight forward.
By now the rain had increased, the mist was dropping in and the wind was picking up. Nearly every time I visit Sourton tors the weather is poor, today was no exception. At least the wind wasn’t blowing me over this time. A quick water break and snack before I went head on to Branscombe’s Loaf at the top of Corn Ridge. As the weather was very indecisive at this point, I took a bearing as a safety net, the mist intermittently hiding the hill like it was playing hide and seek!
Gren tor next, I had thought there was a track of some sort between the “Loaf” and Gren tor, clearly mistaken, a stomp across the grass tufts and other vegetation was the only way forward. Gren tor in sight and a track appeared heading toward the river Lyd. Clearly cows are not entirely daft, the wide boggy area and the start of the river wouldn’t be easy or even possible to cross as their track took a right angle right and followed the river all the way to the stone path leading toward Great Links tor. A short piece of the path walked take a left and Gren tor is done.
The weather still not improving meant a quick bearing check and straight onto Hunt tor, a tor I know has some shelter for a water and snack top up.
Once on the right bearing it is relatively straight forward, follow the long “ditch” for about two hundred meters, cross over and look for a track, there is one there and if you find it, along with a bearing check you will drop directly onto Hunt tor. It also looked like the military where out navigating as I spotted the yellow flag marker, which is what I believe they use.
At this point things are going pretty well, not sure if the weather is a distraction but body and bag weight were coping well.
Next target, the Dunna Goat tors. You need to aim for the gravel path that sits in direct line of sight with Great Links tor and about four hundred meters away. No tracks as such to follow so find the best sheep track and follow it. You’ll reach a bank, which just below it has in wet weather a very boggy area so pick out the best way around it to try and keep your feet dry! Up onto the path turn right and look out for a track, about one hundred meters to your left. Follow the path as it winds around until you see Bleak house on the left and roughly one hundred meters in front. Find the best tracks and start climbing up the hill at roughly forty-five degrees until you see the Dunna Goats tors. Then just walk until you reach them!
Nothing to difficult so far and certainly nothing unsurprising or threatening to share.
The next target is Chat tor, (which, unlike I thought previously I had bagged all the tors) was in fact the last tor I needed to visit before claiming I had visited every tor!
It’s not huge and at a certain angle looks like a miniature Branscombe’s Loaf! There is a bit more to it than that so could be worth a revisit.
From here a simple job of bagging a line of tors overlooking or close to Tavy Cleave (not the ones directly looking into the cleave which are not marked on the map and could easily confuse the novice!)
Sharp tor, Hare tor Ger tor and Nat tor.
Reaching Sharp tor is definitely easier from Chat tor rather than approaching from Doe tor with the huge hill to climb. The wind was gusting a bit now and with the legs beginning to feel a bit tired, walking across the rocks to get around the side of the tor had to done with care. What is impressive though are the views from each of the tors and the walk between them, on a bright sunny day they would be far reaching from all directions.
Reaching Nat tor from Ger tor wasn’t particularly exciting, rather than drop West and find a stretch without rocks all over the place I kept a straight line. This meant a slow and time-consuming picking my way through what often look like grass bumps but in fact had stones and rocks close under the surface along with those exposed rocks. Very tedious, would have been better to add a few more minutes and divert around them.
None the less I arrived at Nat tor and decided another break was required! The rain almost looked like it may be finally clearing but still frustratingly stayed wet enough to prevent removing the waterproofs. Although it was still grey, at least there were little signs of any mist dropping and now providing a nice view toward Willsworthy.
Willsworthy camp was the next target point. A descent stretch and easy to reach following the leat, crossing the footbridge at Willsworthy Brook, up the hill to the firing range. At the end of the firing range on the left and when you cross a concrete section of the path bridging a part of the Wheal Jewell Leat take a ninety degree turn right and follow the path toward Willsworthy camp. Here you reach what appears to be a corner of a boundary wall, to the right a path heads out toward Doe tor and continues to follow the wall. After a few hundred yards there is a building on the left at the end of the field system, continue on the path around the side of the building. Reach two gates, the left is the access gate, you need to follow the path dead ahead in order to reach a further gate to exit the fenced area. Don’t lose faith, you don’t see the second gate until you almost reach it but it is there.
This now allows you to go up the hill to Doe tor. I’ve only been here a couple of times but it is a tor I have on my list to revisit, with many others in that area. It could be one of the most densely populated areas with accessible tors?
Regardless, they all have plenty to offer in many different ways and a great area to bag a good number in a single day.
On to Brat tor and crossing the Doe tor brook. Currently the water levels are pretty low making the crossing very easy on this trip, however, I think even if the levels were higher crossing with care could still be achieved, just find the right spot.
Once over the brook the climb up to Brat tor is sizable with a full pack. At this stage on other days, I would normally be beginning to slow down and struggle a bit, but today, maybe as it was a lot cooler, I seamed to still have a decent amount of energy and the bag weight while still heavy wasn’t causing me a massive amount of pain. Just a couple of “mini stops”.
Finally, the last ascent completed, the wind appeared to have picked up again, it was very windy as I walked over the top and around Widgery Cross. Now this is a place for a good view, you can see for miles on a good day.
So, all that’s left is to walk down that big hill, cross the river, either by the footbridge or stepping stones and follow the track back to the car.
Overall, I actually felt I had walked pretty well despite the weather and keeping those dreadful waterproofs on all day. By the way, how did those new waterproof trousers perform? Spot on, I know it’s only one outing but they kept me completely dry, the first pair to do what the marketing says. Plenty of beading and where they did “wet out” the rain didn’t run through to the inside. It’ll be interesting to see how they perform in torrential rain over a few walks.
While I still expect to feel tired and ache a bit, I still felt I could walk on if required. So, the question is, how far and long would I need to continue based on today’s performance.
Total distance 26 km
Total trip time 8.5 hours duration
Average trip time 3.1 km per hour
Average moving speed 4.7 km per hour
Wow, I was sort of expecting around 26 km but what really surprised me was the average trip times. Really didn’t think I would get over 3 km per hour or maintain the moving average speed. This was more aligned to carrying 2.4 kilos!
I’m definitely and absolutely delighted with that result and could see myself hitting 30km a day at this rate. Confidence took a huge leap forward so let’s hope the next set of walks can be achieved in similar fashion.