Saturday, 12 February 2011

Dartmoor: Princetown to Leather Tor circular

Leather Tor
Leather Tor

As much as I enjoy company on walks, sometimes you just have to get out and walk on your own. This weekend was a particularly good one. I hadn't been on the moors since last September, and I was missing it. As soon as I headed off from Princetown, and the mist started to lift, I could see this was going to be a good day.

I had no specific route in mind, I was just going to navigate from point to point, see what took my fancy and make it up as I went along. I would look at the map and find something of interest to me; a stone row, a cyst, a cairn, a boundary, a tor I hadn't visited - and just had some fun exploring.

So the day was spent using as many navigation skills as I could; handrailing, aiming off, timing, practicing walking on a bearing, plus a little bit of scrambling up Leather Tor and Sharpitor.

Following the boundary works that goes to Sharpitor (Burrator) across Walkhampton Common
Boundary Work across Walkhampton Common
First up, I followed the old railway track out from Princetown, to the point where you can see a faint boundary work heading south-west across Walkhampton Common to Sharpitor (Burrator) I followed this part of the way, veering off to the B3212 where a small watercourse feeds into the River Meavy.

Walkhampton Common
Walkhampton Common
I crossed the road and made my way across the common, above the Meavy, before making my way up to Black Tor (Walkhampton).

The Meavy
The Meavy

Black Tor (Walkhampton)
Black Tor (Walkhampton)
I noticed, on my map, reference to a stone row running south-west, within an enclosure and close to the wall. Should be easy to locate, I thought, and I did find part of it.

Old Stone Row alongside boundary
Stone Row

Further south-west, passing the edge of forestry known as Stanlake Plantation, I came across the Boundary Work I had followed earlier.

Boundary Works
Boundary Work

I climbed up to Sharpitor (Burrator), a bit of a scramble in parts. Atop and there are wonderful views!

Sharpitor (Burrator)
Sharpitor (Burrator)
Sharpitor (Burrator)
Sharpitor (Burrator)

Leather and Lower Leather Tor from Sharpitor (Burrator)
Leather Tor and Lower Leather Tor from Sharpitor (Burrator)

I strolled over Peek Hill and dropped down to some granite overlooking Burrator Reservoir. This was Lowery Tor.

Tree on Peek Hill
Tree on Peek Hill

Stunted tree beside Lowery Tor
Stunted tree on Lowery Tor
Leather Tor
Leather Tor
The view from Lowery Tor, of Leather Tor, enticed me to head there next. This is certainly one of the most dramatic of tors on Dartmoor, with an easy scramble to the top but some giddy drops to the River Meavy on its east side.

Leather Tor
Leather Tor looking to Down Tor and Combshead Tor

Leather Tor
Leather Tor

I dropped further down to Lower Leather Tor. Some would argue, with some justification, that this is just an extension of the higher, much grander outcrop. It is worthy of exploration, whatever your opinion, and the lower clitter has some beautiful moss and lichen covered boulders and oaks.

Lower Leather Tor, Sheeps tor background
Lower Leather Tor, Sheeps Tor background

Moss below Lower Leather Tor
Moss below Lower Leather Tor

Moss below Lower Leather Tor
Moss below Lower Leather Tor

I dropped down to the road at Cross Gate and followed the forestry track in search of a Cairn and Cist situated close to the Devonport Leat.

Cairn and Cist beside the Devonport Leat
Cairn and Cist beside the Devonport Leat

Next, I crossed the leat and walked its path through Stanlake Plantation.

Devonport Leat
Devonport Leat

Fallen tree in Stanlake Plantation
Fallen tree in Stanlake Plantation

At the end of the path, where the open moor returns, I went right, over the Meavy and up beside the walled edge of Raddick Plantation to Crazywell Pool.

Crazywell Pool
Crazywell Pool

Just to the east of Crazywell Pool, there lies Crazywell Cross. Restored in 1915, the original positioning is probably closer to the pool, as this is where its head was found.

Crazywell Cross
Crazywell Cross

From the cross, I went north-east, up over the hill where a triangulation pillar sits at 445 metres, and on to the cycle track that would take me back to Princetown, via South Hessary Tor, before the sun began to set.

Ponies on the cycle track to Princetown
Ponies on the cycle track to Princetown, South Hessary in the distance


Looking back to Sharpitor (Burrator)
Looking back to Sharpitor (Burrator)