Posts tagged ‘Dartmoor’

July 8, 2012

A squelchy backpack across north Dartmoor

by backpackingbongos

This was a hastily put together backpack with only a couple of days notice.  I had planned to be in the Highlands but a lousy weather forecast ended that plan.  The south-west appeared to the best bet for respite from the rain with the promise of a dry forecast.  In the end I did experience a bit of sun but overall the weekend was much damper than anticipated.  I discovered that Dartmoor can be a bleak and foreboding place when the mist blankets the moors, which it often did with considerable speed.

Day 1 – 9 miles with 540 metres ascent

Deweys:  Cosdon hill 550 metres,  Steeperton hill 532 metres,  Hangingstone hill 603 metres

Belstone is one of those rare places which has a large free car park with no overnight restrictions.  One of the difficulties of backpacking in the hills is finding somewhere suitable to leave the car overnight.  Therefore Belstone should be congratulated on being backpacker friendly.

I have to admit that I was pretty tired after a 5 hour drive down the motorway and my desire to carry a pack over the moors had diminished somewhat.  Reuben on the other hand had enjoyed a long snooze on the backseat, so was eager to get moving.  He has now come to realise that wearing his panniers mean good times ahead, so now lets me put them on without trying to back away.  We were soon walking through the village which was pleasantly traffic free, another bonus from providing visitors with somewhere free to park.  Reuben provided entertainment for the few people out and about in the village, a dog carrying his own kit still obviously a rare sight.

A path led steeply down hill to a bridge over the River Taw, followed by an ascent up the other side of the valley.  Our first objective was the summit of Cosdon hill, which on the map does not have a direct path marked to its summit.  I ended up taking a bit of a convoluted route initially along a path that contoured above the Taw valley until it eventually disappeared.  Walking off path on the lower slopes was tough going with low prickly gorse hidden among the lush summer grass.  I was glad to find an outcrop of boulders to sit awhile and dig out my waterproofs to fend off a shower approaching from the west.

It was a bit of a dull trudge to the huge cairn on the summit of Cosdon hill.  This provided a bit of shelter from a heavy shower whilst the bottom of a cloud briefly enveloped us.  To the west, the higher summit of Yes Tor was firmly stuck in the clouds where it would remain for the rest of the day.

We followed a well-defined path down the southern slopes of the hill, the huge open expanses of the north moor rolling towards a cloud covered horizon.

Progress was rapid and we passed a stone circle I had not noticed on the map, a point of reference on such a large open landscape.

One of the overriding impressions of the weekend was the sound of the wind blowing through the long green grass.  I have only ever visited Dartmoor in autumn or winter when the moor is covered in every shade of brown.  In summer it is surprisingly green and lush, swirling eddies causing patterns to ripple across its surface.

I felt it only apt to taken Reuben to Hound Tor but on closer inspection it was clearly off-limits.  A gang of cows had taken up residence, like teenagers in a village bus shelter.  With a dog in tow I felt it best to give them a wide berth.

We left the main path and descended to Steeperton brook, an oasis of calm sheltered from the wind.  It was an easy climb to the summit of Steeperton Tor which was occupied by a herd of ponies and a tiny foal sheltering next to the army observation post.  The view to the south had become even bleaker, Hangingstone hill our next destination hidden in the murk.

Luckily a firm track took me almost to the summit as I was soon walking through heavy wind-driven rain, thick mist reducing visibility to a few metres.  In the rubbish conditions the summit which is adorned by an army hut was a bleak and uninviting spot and I did not linger.  I mistakenly could not be bothered to take a compass bearing and soon found myself floundering through a marshy area south of the summit.  I turned due east and picked up a path through the worst of the terrain before finding the remains of a Peat pass.  I soon had to leave this and head into the mist across rough, boggy and tussocky terrain.  I was relieved to come to the wall marked on the map where I could just make out the tops of the trees surrounding the ruins of Teignhead farm.

The going continued to be tough until just above the farm and I was looking forward to seeking shelter there and pitching my tent.  Robin had found a great spot there on his backpack across Dartmoor and it was somewhere I was keen to wild camp.  I was therefore extremely dismayed to discover that a large herd of cows with calves in tow had occupied the area, the air full of their bellowing.  There were also a couple of tents bravely pitched in the exact spot I was after. There was no way that I was going to risk camping near cows, especially with a dog.  Feeling wet and bedraggled I filled up with water from Manga brook and headed up Manga hill in the hope of finding somewhere to pitch the Trailstar.  After half an hour of trudging about I settled on a spot that was passable, although rather exposed and windy.

Reuben was told to wait whilst I pitched and he looked on like I was the worst owner a dog could possibly have.  With shelter finally provided he took to his mat with a big sigh and did his best to ensure that I knew he was not very happy with the whole camping in the wind and rain thing.

It was a noisy night with the rain hammering on the nylon a few inches from my head.  I was glad that I had re-sealed some of the upper seams which had stretched with use.  I was pleased that the Trailstar provided such a stable shelter in an exposed position in some pretty nasty conditions.

Day 2 – 9.7 miles with 410 metres ascent

Deweys:  Cut hill 604 metres

I received a text from Corrina informing me that it would be a dry and sunny morning before showers developed later that afternoon.  I read the text in the morning whilst the rain continued to hammer down!  I festered for a while until the sun made a brief but welcome appearance and I exited to take in my surroundings and get a few photos.  Reuben took the opportunity to do what dogs do.

Rain soon had us diving for cover and I cooked and packed whilst waiting for the next sunny interlude.  The day ended up being one of fleeting sunshine in-between some very hefty showers, mist quickly enveloping the hills.  It felt like the conditions changed every few minutes, a day when by the time you managed to get your waterproofs off it would start raining again.  I ended up keeping them on all day.

Packed up I looked down upon Teignhead farm and noticed that the cows had dispersed across the lush pastures making me glad that I had not camped in the vicinity.

Crossing the North Teign river I followed a bridleway with excellent views back towards the ruin.  It must have been a very isolated place to live.

The Grey Wethers stone circle is rather impressive and I reached it just as the sun came out.  This lead me to re-naming it the ‘Bill Withers’ stone circle due to the fact that I found myself humming along to the tune ‘lovely day’……………..

I had originally planned on bagging White Ridge which is a Dewey but from a distance could see that it was already occupied by cows and their calves.  Therefore we headed directly to the top of Sittaford Tor with its extensive views.

Although not marked on the map a path leads directly to the ruin of Statts House on Winney’s Down.  This path crosses an area where a stream runs through an extensive boggy area.  There was a disconcerting moment where I was walking on quaking ground, a raft of vegetation floating on water.  If you stood still for long enough you would slowly sink and possibly never be seen again!  On the other side of the bog we suddenly found ourselves standing between a young foal and its mother.  I quickly leashed Reuben as the foal made a whinny sound and trotted a huge circle around us to get to its mother.  She continued grazing as if we were not there.

Thankfully the path up to Statts house was firm and dry, Reuben immediately seeking shelter behind one of the ruined walls.  It was a good spot to pause out of the wind for a while and watch the clouds racing across the sky.

Our next destination was the summit of Cut Hill which looked brooding in the distance.  We sloshed across the moor and descended to the marshy banks of the East Dart river.  With already saturated trail shoes it was easy enough to simply wade across, no worries about trying to keep my feet dry.  We followed Cut Hill water upstream for a few metres and found a boulder that provided shelter from the wind.  An ideal spot to sit for a while and get the Jetboil out to make coffee and cook lunch.

We followed the stream for a while before striking up across rough ground towards the unseen North West Passage.  During the climb we intersected two backpackers who were making their way between Okehampton and Princetown.  It was quite strange passing others in such a remote spot, like two tiny boats passing on a huge ocean.  They commented that I was heading into bad weather, the sky ahead quickly darkening and looking bruised and angry.  A beer at the Plume of feathers where they were planning to camp seemed to be spurring them along!

I continued plodding up Cut Hill and probably more through luck than skill managed to locate the old Peat pass, marked by a plaque on a stone.  At that moment the weather came in, visibility dropping rapidly and heavy rain blown along on a strong wind.  It was an unpleasant trudge to the top of the desolate hill.  On the summit the rain continued with particular vigour, hard enough to be felt through my waterproofs.  Poor old Reuben did not know what to do with himself.  An unhappy little dance, a whimper then he attempted to make himself as small as possible against the soggy onslaught.

On the way to Fur Tor the rain stopped and the mist lifted.  Being a dog, Reubens misery was soon forgotten and he was once again trotting along happily with his tail wagging.  The ground between Cut Hill and Fur Tor was particularly rough and boggy and it took what felt like an age to reach the collection of rocky tors.

The effort was worth it however, what a spot!  Fur Tor has got to be once of the wildest places on Dartmoor, a real feeling of being in the middle of nowhere.  An isolated hard to reach place.  A couple of backpackers were sheltering behind the main tor when I arrived and I chatted with them for a while.  Unfortunately their small terrier took a disliking to Reuben so I had to relocate to another tor to seek shelter.  I spent a while wandering around and taking photos.  I will have to return one day for a wild camp as it’s a truly magical place.

The northern slopes were pretty rocky by Dartmoor standards, although progress was quick down the short-cropped grass.  Cut Combe water was a pleasant grassy bowl with plenty of wild camping spots available.  I pushed on however as I planned to spend the night at Lints Tor.

After Little Kneeset the going became rough and boggy once more.  The grassy moor was saturated and it was like walking on a huge soggy mattress.  With dark clouds racing past it was pretty glorious in its grimness!

We descended towards Brim Brook at the point where it turns north.  I had not given its crossing much thought to be honest as it is a small stream on the map.  However all the rain over the past couple of days had turned it into a raging torrent.  Using my poles it was evident that it was waist deep in places, the sheer force of the water making any attempt at crossing potentially lethal.  The source of the stream was only a mile or so away so we headed along its bank on the look out of any potential crossing points.  A few hundred metres upstream it split and we got across the first crossing, although still with some difficulty.  The main channel was then tricky to approach across saturated bogs and I lurched about through the reeds and tussocks.  Finally we got across and it was a short splash across the moor to Lints Tor.

There was not much shelter to be had but I managed to find a pitch on a flattish bit of ground wedged between two of the largest cow pats I have ever seen.  A further weather update text from Corrina promised a sunny evening.  However Dartmoor had different plans and the rain continued to fall in heavy showery bursts throughout the night.  Reuben however did get a treat and was allowed to curl up with me inside the Oooknest, rather than being relegated to his mat in the porch.

Day 3 – 6.5 miles with 230 metres ascent

A brief sunny interlude in the morning gave me a few minutes to pop out of the Trailstar and take some photos.  I had spotted Lints Tor during my week on Dartmoor the previous year and I had earmarked it as a wild camp spot.  It was an excellent location, unfortunately let down by the less than clement weather.

Once again within seconds the weather deteriorated and I dived back into my shelter.  The surrounding hills were quickly enveloped in a thick mist and the rain beat on the nylon above my head with renewed intensity.

As I was packing up inside the shelter I noticed four people on the opposite side of the valley walking aimlessly around Dinger Tor.  They were still there twenty minutes later when I had finished packing, the clouds chased away by strong sunshine.

Half an hour later as I reached Dinger Tor they were still on the hillside, all crouched in a circle looking intently at something on the ground.  I resisted the temptation to walk over and ask them what they were doing.  Dinger Tor marks the end of a track and I was soon making swift progress in an easterly direction, cutting across the grain of the land.

I left the track to start climbing Oke Tor and passed two ponies with their foals in a grassy sheltered hollow.

Oke Tor was a pleasant spot to sit for a while, its summit tor providing shelter from the wind.  Considering that it was a summer Sunday in a national park I was surprised at just how quiet the hills were.  If I had been in the Peak District the hills would have been busy come rain or shine.

A good firm path led directly to Belstone Tor and I could not resist stopping and looking back towards the large open bowl that holds Taw marsh.  From the lofty vantage point I could make out several spots along the river Taw that looked like they would make excellent wild camping pitches.

North from Belstone Tor the ground drops away steeply and it feels like most of Devon is at your feet.

Easy paths led quickly down to Belstone itself, still quiet even though it was Sunday lunchtime.  I was glad to get to the car and change out of my sodden footwear and filthy trousers.  Feeling tired after a weekend in the hills the long drive back up the M5 was less than appealing.

June 28, 2012

From one end of the country to the other

by backpackingbongos

It was meant to be simple.  Four days off work in a row, head to the Highlands.  Days spent walking the sun-kissed hills above Rannoch Moor, high level camps to watch the sunset.

It has not worked out like that.

The mountain forecast is one of mist and low cloud and on the damp side.  Not worth the effort and cost of the 750 mile round trip.  Damn it, it seems like you can’t make any outdoor plans this summer.

Currently Dartmoor is looking appealing weather wise (relatively speaking compared to other hill areas) and I have not backpacked there for years.  Off tomorrow morning for three days on the north moor and hopefully two remote wild camps.  Reuben the mountain staffy is in for a treat.

Knowing my luck, as I head south the weather peeps will decide that it will be lovely up north after all and I will be on Dartmoor inside a cloud…………..

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March 21, 2011

Exploring the wild western moors and tors of Dartmoor

by backpackingbongos

For my last day on Dartmoor I was finally treated by the weather gods, there was a promise of a bit of sun and no mist.  I had fancied a jaunt around Great Mis Tor all week as I had read that it is a great vantage point.  The good weather coincided with a non firing day on the adjacent Merrivale range, an opportunity to explore the interior.

11.4 miles with 550 metres ascent

The van was left at a small car park near to Merrivale and I walked the dog carefully back down the busy road as he is terrified of fast-moving vehicles.  A path branches off which I followed towards the imposing Vixen Tor ahead of me.  I could vaguely remember reading about some issues with access here, but this did not prepare me for the man-made fortress surrounding it.  The dry stone wall was covered with barbed wire, and just to be sure you could not get over there was a barbed wire fence at a 45 degree angle to the wall.  The gates through were firmly padlocked with six-foot fences covered with barbed wire on top.  I have since read up on Vixen Tor and it sounds like the owner Mrs Alford is a complete arse.  There have been issues with access since she brought the land.  She is currently demanding a one-off payment of £30,000 followed by an annual payment of £35,000 to allow access.  Hang your head in shame Mrs Alford.  Full details of the situation can be found here

Feeling a little angry and self-righteous I turned my back on the splendid tor and followed the path to the much more welcoming Pew Tor with its view of my destination later in the day.

The low extensive rocks were worth scrambling over for a few minutes.  I stood on the highest point and watched a child’s head pop up only to receive a lick on the face from Reuben who had been waiting for him.  I suppose that the last thing you expect when climbing a Dartmoor tor is to have a large Staffie head bearing down on you!

Contouring around Feather Tor we passed a lovely ancient cross situated next to a well constructed leat full of cold clear water.  It took a bit of persuading to get Reuben to leap across!

The skyline of Cox Tor was our next destination and we walked through the large car park onto the busy road.  It appears that this is a favourite hang out for the local Dartmoor ponies looking for titbits from the tourists.  The climb up to Cox Tor itself was along an easy grassy path and we were soon at the trig point.  The views from there are classic Dartmoor with tors adorning just about every hill-top.

I expected the col below Great Staple Tor to be wet and boggy but the close-cropped grass continued and we were at its stacks of rocks quickly.

It was now time to turn our backs on civilisation and head deeper into the moor towards Roos Tor and the military pole that indicates when firing is taking place.

In front of me laid a vast empty landscape, the endless moor stretching on for miles.  I think that it is pretty unique to have such a large area without boundary walls or fences.  A feint path led of into the moor and it was a pleasure to stride out towards the distant stone circle.

The map does not give it a name and the stones are low and or falling down but it is one of the few landmarks in the area.

Set on a course directly for Great Mis Tor the river Walkham was reached , having descended for miles across the moors.  The map marks it as a narrow stream but on the ground it is most definitely an infant river.  An obstacle to cross even on a dry day I walked up and down for a while looking for a safe spot.  Some awkward balancing and boulder hoping got me across dry foot and then it was time to coax Reuben to make the crossing.  He was unsure and spent a while running up and down the bank before crouching and attempting a mega leap, he got half way with a big splash!

Great Mis Tor is the highest spot for some distance and once we had gained the summit Tor we sat for a while and took in the extensive views.  The valley of the River Walkham leads the eye towards the coast in one direction and the high moors in the other.

The van was just a short walk away but I wanted to be on the hills for a little bit longer and Reuben is keen to be out all day.  Instead of following the track straight down to the road we branched off keeping to high ground in line with the track to Yellowmeade farm.  It was adding on the miles for the sake of it really but it was a pleasant enough stroll along the level track to Foggintor quarries and then up to Kings Tor.  By now the sky was beginning to darken, the distant views disappearing in a grey haze.  A solitary tree amongst the rocks made the scene in my eyes even bleaker.

One of the highlights of this walk was going to be the stone rows just above where I had parked the van.  However just before reaching them the mist descended rapidly, drizzle dampening the air.  Walking past the large standing stone my enthusiasm for the hills and their antiquities vanished in an instant.  I am sorry to say that I could not be bothered to walk the few hundred metres to them.  I got back to the van in a twilight world of murk, just how Dartmoor had been during most of the week.

March 20, 2011

Across the northern moor to Grey Wethers stone circle

by backpackingbongos

After the crowds on my walk around Hay Tor rocks I was looking forward to escaping into the wilds again.  However in keeping with the whole week the weather forecast was on the dull and misty side, not the best for walking across featureless moorland.  The East Dart river cuts deep into the vast northern moors, easy to follow when the mist is down.  I therefore set off to simply walk to the waterfall up one side of the river and return down the other side.  Thankfully a brief opportunity later in the day allowed me to explore further.

11.1 miles with 460 metres ascent

I popped in to the village shop as I passed to pick up a paper for when I got back to the cottage.  It is a curious place that is just a touch on the unfriendly side.  Often small remote shops are a treasure trove of curios and local food and you are usually given a warm welcome.  This was never the case on my visits to the one in Postbridge!  Anyway lets move swiftly on before I ruin a small business.

The large car park was once again nearly empty as I passed by, taking the bridleway on the west side of the river.  The low cloud and mist was stubborn this morning with views even in the valley restricted.

The clear path soon started to climb away from the river before dropping down to the curiously named Braddon lake which is actually a stream.  I thought about taking the path directly to the waterfall from here crossing Broad down, but was not too keen on a misty crossing.  Instead I climbed a few metres up the hillside where there is a narrow but clear path alongside a disused leat.  A brief clearing in the mist gave me a quick glimpse of the landscape towards Postbridge.

Walking along the leat was a delight as it contoured about 30 metres above the lively river below.  The going was easy and I almost felt a little smug watching a couple of hikers on the other side of the river struggle along a boggy tussocky path.  Yes I am fully aware that smugness is not something to be proud of!  The leat soon came to an end at a stile which Reuben really could not get to grips with so was unceremoniously hoisted over instead.  In the mist there was a slightly confusing section where the river almost doubles back on its self through a wide grassy bowl.

Now heading due west there are several areas that would make idyllic wild camping spots, a pleasant place to while away a warm sunny evening cooling the feet in the river.

However not today as the mist dropped even lower and the contours around the river gathered closer together creating a small scenic rocky gorge.

We were suddenly at the waterfall marked on the map and I have to say that it was a bit of an anticlimax, it must have been all of six feet high.  I actually started to doubt my map reading not believing that I had actually reached it.  I resorted to checking the OS map on my Iphone which confirmed that I was indeed where I though I was.  I skulked behind a rock for a bite to eat and a flask of coffee whilst Rueben sat looking at me with hungry eyes and a slight damp shiver.

I decided to call it a day, head over Broad down and back to Postbridge.  Although not marked on the map there is a clear path that runs across the moor and I was soon heading towards Braddon lake, surrounded by a world of mist and murk.

My phone suddenly rang and it was my partner who informed me that Postbridge was dry and sunny today!  Then whilst I was letting her know that I was heading back to the cottage the mist suddenly vanished.  The weather transformation was immediate and the hills all around were now visible.  As with the weather I had a sudden change of heart, let my partner know my plans and headed back the way I had come.  For the first time that day I got a view into the heart of the moor.

Passing the waterfall I continued alongside the river, eventually coming to the shallow gorge of Sandy Hole Pass, a nice wild spot.

Cut hill was now visible on the horizon and I really fancied climbing to the top and then continuing to Fur Tor.  However the red flags were flying meaning that the military were using live ammunition.  Instead the Grey Wethers stone circle looked to be a good destination for the day.  I got to the southern edge of Broad Marsh and looked for a place to cross the river but it was a few feet deep.  Broad Marsh itself looked like a spot not to be messed with, anything with the word marsh is probably best avoided on Dartmoor!  Also Broad Marsh is the name of the worst shopping centre in Nottingham, a place full of rundown pound shops.  Also best avoided.

Further upstream the river becomes rockier and shallower.  I tried the tested method of moving quickly before my gaiters could fill with water, but half way across it was up to my knees.  Boots and socks were taken off on the other side and wrung out / emptied.  It took some coaxing to get Reuben to take the plunge.  It was now time to cross the trackless moor.

The ruin of Statts house was an obvious landmark to head for and it turned out that there was a clear path from there to Sittaford Tor.  The sting in the tail however was the crossing of a boggy stream half way across.  The surroundings were a mess of green quaking bog, the ground wobbling as I walked gingerly across.  I had a feeling that if I went in I would never be seen again!

Although Sittaford Tor only rises a few metres above the surrounding moor and fails to have a half decent tor, it is a good bleak vantage point.

Descending the other side I caught my first sight of the rather impressive Grey Wethers stone circle, definitely a case of two for the price of one.

The two circles are huge and it was nice to wonder around them for a while taking in the atmosphere.  Looking at Wikipedia I found a nice little story about it:

One story tells of a farmer who had recently moved to Dartmoor and was foolish enough to criticise the sheep on sale at Tavistock Market. He stopped for a drink at the Warren house inn, and helped by several pints of cider, the locals persuaded him that there was an excellent flock of high quality sheep nearby which he would be welcome to buy. They walked off in search of them, and through the mist the farmer saw what he took to be a fine flock. He agreed to the sale, and returned to the site the following morning to find that what he had taken to be sheep were actually the stones of Grey Wethers.

Whilst I was sitting relaxing next to one of the stones the mist suddenly rolled down out of nowhere, accompanied by heavy rain.  It was a wet and boggy trudge south down a unamed valley back to the East Dart river on a path not marked on the map.  The bridleway that is marked would involve swimming through some pretty nasty looking bogs.  The unrelenting rain and mist accompanied me all the way back to the cottage.

March 18, 2011

A canine on Hound Tor

by backpackingbongos

I sat here for ages trying to come up with a witty title that described a dog on Hound Tor.  I’m afraid to say that this is the best that my brain could come up with.

Looking at a map of Dartmoor I noticed that to the South East the unbroken wilds of the moors end and pastoral valleys make an appearance.  The moors still rise up but slightly lower and not as extensive.  However I noticed the word ‘Tor’ liberally scattered over the map.  With the continuing dull weather during my week on Dartmoor I decided to escape the endless bogs and tussock grass and explore the environs of Widecombe in the Moor.

7.5 miles with 480 metres ascent

Parking the Bongo on the highest part of the B3387 just outside Widecombe, I soon realised that this part of Dartmoor is much more popular than the wild interior I had been exploring.  The roads were busy with a constant stream of traffic as we headed to the summit of Top Tor, a mere 30 metres higher than the car park.  A herd of ponies had already occupied the summit.

A wet path soon took me to Rippon Tor and I got a good look at the whole of my route spread out in a large rather grey panorama.  On the horizon was Haytor rocks, the sight of which made me quicken my step as they looked like they would be the highlight of the day

Approaching them via Saddle Tor I let my imagination take over and from this angle thought they looked a little like An Sgurr on the Isle of Eigg .  I stood and watched a strange-looking figure walk slowly to the foot of the cliffs.  There was something odd about them that I could not figure out.  Getting closer I noticed that they were dressed as a medieval knight brandishing what looked like a sword.  I thought that this may have been some lucid hallucination brought on by only having the dog to talk to for a few days.  He then started conversing with people on the cliffs above which put my mind at ease as I climbed towards the top.

Haytor is pretty impressive and split into two separate tors, the first being the buttress of rock in the photo above.  A wide green swathe of grass separates it from a great lump of granite.  I was now in the midst of honey pot Dartmoor as the place was absolutely heaving with people.  I fancied a scramble to its summit and walked round the other side where the climbing is easy.  However it was absolutely crawling people, looking like the whole of the south-west was gingerly climbing up or shuffling down on their bottoms.

I decided against it, turned my back to the masses (I am a committed misanthrope) and headed down the empty slopes towards Haytor Quarries where I found silent sanctity for a few moments.

A path led out of the quarry and across the open moor to Smallacombe rocks.  They do not look like much on the map but it is a great viewpoint down into the secluded valley of Becka Brook.  Descending into the valley it looks like a good place to explore, although unfortunately half of it is not access land.

Descending to the bottom and climbing the other side, the rocky ridge of Ger Tor is passed (a potential scramble along its spine?) and we came to the remains of a medieval village.  The walls are clearly visible and it is an atmospheric spot.

Behind and now on the far skyline, Haytor rocks are instantly recognisable as they thrust up from the moors.

Hound Tor our next destination is a large spread out tor, looking like a fortified castle from a distance.  There are several stacks of rocks just crying out to be climbed and there were a few families doing just this.  I could not pass up the opportunity to snap a photo of Reuben sitting on the rocks of Hound Tor!

The climb up to the summit of Chinkwell Tor included a bit of a dog-leg as the land in between is not access land, but it was worth walking out on a limb for.  Hamel Down dominates the western skyline, rising up from the green fields below.

Descending I was asked by a guy coming up what the wind was like up there and from what direction it was coming.  This was something that I had not even registered and he gave me a funny look when I said that I did not know.  Looking at what he was carrying on his back I think he was planning on becoming airborne, so I suppose that the wind was pretty important!

Bonehill Rocks on the other side of the road is a nice little tor, lots of nooks and crannies to explore, children having fun on its rough boulders.  Reuben also showed off his scrambling prowess managing to climb an improbable looking rock.

On the easy stroll back to the car I decided that although very scenic this area was my least favourite part of Dartmoor  visited so far.  Due to its accessibility it is very crowded even midweek in February (although it was the school holidays).  It is also difficult to devise a long walk due to the fractured nature of the moors and access land.  The wild unbroken north moor appealed to me most and I decided that I would explore its hinterland the following day, mist or no mist!