Sunday, 14 October 2012

Dartmoor: Haytor Rocks Circular

Haytor Rocks
Haytor Rocks

A great circular near Widecombe, that can take in ten tors, although I only managed nine on this occasion.

I’ve always thought of the east side of Dartmoor as being a little too popular for my tastes; some of the iconic tors, such as Hay and Hound are well trodden thanks to the car parks at the foot of each, and so I have shied away from them. However, on my previous visit, as I drove across from Ashburton to Princetown, via the village of Widecombe in the Moor, I had chanced upon a beautiful day and the whole scene had me thinking of giving it a chance.

Rainbow from Bonehill Rocks
Rainbow from Bonehill Rocks
Fast forward to last weekend. Starting from a small car park near Harefoot Cross, above Widecombe, I headed north in a biting wind, and, within a matter of minutes, the rain. Fortunately, it lasted no more than half an hour, but the showers stayed close for the day; countless rainbows spotted throughout the walk were testament to that.

Bell Tor
Bell Tor

Across Bonehill Rocks, where school kids were being instructed in some climbing, on to Bell and Chinkwell Tors respectively. I took a look at Honeybag Tor, some 500 metres away, but, still yet to find a second wind, I turned back and headed east, then north across Houndtor Down, to the famous Hound Tor.

Hound Tor (Manaton)
Hound Tor (Manaton)

Hound Tor is a well known climbing location, and even on a mixed bag like today, there were plenty of ropes dangling from the tops of the granite walls.

Hound Tor (Manaton)
Hound Tor (Manaton)

I moved on, down to a medieval settlement, nicely sheltered from a south westerly in a re-entrant with Hound Tor and Greator Rocks either side.

Medieval settlement remains near Greator Rocks
Medieval Settlement near Greator Rocks
Greator Rocks
Greator Rocks

The track then fell away, some 80 metres, into woodland either side of Becka Brook.

Clapper across Becka Brook
Clapper across Becka Brook

A steady climb up out of the valley, I came to Smallacombe Rocks, and before me,  a kilometre and a half away, lay Haytor Rocks; quite possibly the most photographed of all the tors on Dartmoor. As you near the giant granite outcrops, you get a sense of the size by the people clambering onto their tops.
Haytor Rocks from Smallacombe Rocks
Haytor Rocks from Smallacombe Rocks
Haytor Rocks
Haytor Rocks

Arriving at these tors from the north is much preferable, as you get a more remote feel to the whole scene, because once passed through the two lumps, you can see the bustling car park some thirty metres below.

Haytor Rocks
Greator Rocks
Haytor Rocks
Greator Rocks

Saddle Tor
Saddle Tor

I avoided the throngs, and set off to the quarries to the west, and then Saddle Tor, before hitting the road for a short stretch and an easy ascent of Top Tor. From here, it was a few minutes to the car.
Top Tor
Top Tor
Bonehill Rocks, Bell Tor, Chinkwell Tor
Bonehill Rocks, Bell Tor, Chinkwell Tor


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