Thursday, 28 March 2013

Dartmoor: Belstone to Hangingstone Hill

Hangingstone Hill military shelter
Hangingstone Hill military hut
A couple of days thawing out at Base Camp (aka "mum's"), in Halwill Junction, and it was time to venture out onto the moors again. This little route is a particular favourite of mine; a circuit of the ridge above Taw Marsh and the valley. On this occasion I added an extension to Hangingstone Hill to up the mileage.


The River Taw
The River Taw

Filling up my Nalgene bottle at the Taw ford, below Belstone, I took the bridge over the river to the base of the mighty Cosdon Hill. I have climbed this lump on many occasions, and it is a good indicator of my fitness levels. 

Belstone
Belstone

The ground was firm underfoot, and fairly easy going. When I reached the top, it was the best part of an hour from the start, including the stop for water filtration.

Cosdon Hill
Cosdon Hill

Cosdon Beacon
Cosdon Beacon

I hunkered down in the cairn at the top, to have lunch as snow flurries started to fall. A couple of cold pizza slices and a lamb fillet sandwich hit the spot. 

Moving on across the frozen scene, next point of interest is the White Moor Stone Circle and the standing stone.

White Moor Circle and Stone
White Moor Circle and Standing Stone

Keeping moving as it was to cold to linger too long, I found some shelter from the wind at Hound Tor. Compared to its namesake near Widecombe, this tor is short and can be scaled with a couple of bounds and without the aid of a rope.

Hound Tor
Hound Tor (Okehampton)

Steeperton Tor
Steeperton Tor

To my right, Steeperton Tor, and normally my next stop, but as I was feeling particularly energetic, I continued south to Wild Tor.

Wild Tor
Wild Tor

Hangingstone Hill is a kilometre or so away from here and the path can be seen snaking up to the army shelter on its top. As I made my way up to the highest point on the walk, at 603 metres, the effects of the last few days was more apparent.

Hangingstone Hill military shelter
Hangingstone Hill military hut
Frozen Hangingstone Hill
Frozen Hangingstone Hill

Once at the top, I could just pick out the track north, which I took. As altitude dropped, the route was easier to see and soon it had turned into a recognisable military track.

Knack Tin Mine
Knack Tin Mine

I continued north to the Old Knack Tin Mine Ford at the top of Steeperton Gorge and crossed the Taw, with some interesting ice formations on the edges.

Icicles
Icicles
Icicles
Icicles
frozen grass
Frozen grass

The track ascends up to Oke Tor, and it is largely a grassy path up to Higher and Belstone Tors.

Oke Tor
Oke Tor
Oke Tor
Oke Tor

By now, the sun was making an effort to come out, and the conditions were perfect for the paragliders chucking themselves off the edge of the ridge.

Paragliders
Paragliders and Belstone Tors
Paragliders
Paragliders and Taw Marsh
Paragliders
Paraglider

With the paragliders finally behind me, I turned my attention to the final push up passed Lower Tor and over Belstone Common, with some walking through mild clitter around Higher and Belstone Tors.

view from Lower Tor
View from Lower Tor

Higher Tor
Higher Tor
Belstone Tors
Belstone Tors

Once down, I followed the obvious path to Watchet Hill and then down into the village of Belstone. I'll never tire of this walk; a great way to get a taste of the north moors without having to work too hard at navigation. I didn't look at my map all day, but then I've walked the route often enough and visibility was pretty good with views as far as Yes Tor and High Willhays, and beyond!

The route: