Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Dartmoor: a busy morning; a stroll, Active Summer, and the Dartmoor Timelapse Film

Little King's Tor
Rich Flint on Little King's Tor
My weekend was pretty much going to be the usual smash and grab on the South-West, sandwiched between the drive to and from London. What I didn't expect was that, on Thursday night, when in a tweet to @FlintyRich, I extended an offer to join me on Dartmoor, the said offer would be taken up! 

Rich's favoured haunts, both the Lake District and Scotland, were anticipating some bad weather over the weekend, while the South-West was looking like it may escape the worst until Sunday. Seed sown, Rich was soon on board with the idea and I was pleased I would be having some company on this adventure!

Rich had got the overnight train down from Paddington, arriving at stupid o'clock (5.15am) Saturday morning in Plymouth. I had offered to pick him up from the station, but on hearing the time of arrival, I promptly arranged to meet him later in Princetown. Two buses from Plymouth later, he arrived at eight to join me for the mandatory breakfast at the Fox Tor Cafe.

Among my objectives for this weekend, I wanted to pick up a couple of signed copies of Ken Ringwood's "Dartmoor Tors and Rocks", at the National Parks Activity Summer Day, and also introduce myself to Jenny How, one of the Publishers of the excellent Active Dartmoor Magazine. But that wasn't until later in the day, it was early still so we went for a short bimble.

We walked out along the old railway track and made our way up to Foggintor, or what is left of it, because when you reach the top of the hill you are met with a long drop view of the old quarry. What was once a blot on the landscape is gradually being reclaimed by nature and the spot doesn't look half bad an option for a wild camp! A quick google about the place, I've since found out that it is listed as a place to Wild Swim!

Also, granite from this quarry was used to build the Prison in Princetown and parts of the town, as well as the base of Nelson's Column. For more about the quarry, visit the; Dartmoor20 website.

Foggintor Quarry
Foggintor Quarry
We skirted the edge of the top, and descended down to the railway again, where the ruins of Hill Cottages, where the quarrymen lived, still stand as a reminder to the industry that thrived on the moor in the 19th Century.

Old quarry building below Foggintor
Ruins near Foggintor Quarry
We made our way up onto Swelltor, site of another, but not so impressive, quarry. Then it was on to King's Tor, which the old railway once contoured and had a station named after. Check this clip HERE from a 1954 BBC film called "Brief Journey" for a look at the trip from Plymouth to Princetown. Such a shame that Dr. Beeching ripped our railways apart; if the line were here today, I'm sure the journey from Yelverton to Princetown would be a lucrative tourist attraction. That said, the railways loss is the hikers, and cyclists, gain.

Descending from King's, I mopped up Little King's Tor, one I had overlooked the last time I was here, thinking it was part of the higher tor.
Heather on Kings Tor
Heather on King's Tor
We then dropped down to the railway again. By now, it was time to make our way back to Princetown, through some of the ruined workings of Swelltor Quarry, and back onto the track.

The old railway near King's Tor
The Disused Railway near King's Tor
For those short on time, I would recommend this wander out from Princetown, for little effort you are afforded big skies, open moorland and plenty of local history to explore.

Walk done, we went to the Visitor Centre. We met Ken Ringwood and purchased the signed copies of his book, and then we wandered to the Active Dartmoor trailer, to say "hi" to Jenny How. I had met Jenny on Social Media a few weeks ago, enjoying my last foray onto Dartmoor, A Sweltering, tor bagging weekend and wildcamp with Phil, Kate and Neil and she had expressed an interest in publishing an article, written by myself. If all goes well, it should be in the next issue and I'm extremely excited to see it, having never been in print before! If you're interested, you can see both current and previous issues on their website; www.activedartmoor.com

Jenny's enthusiasm for Dartmoor is infectious, and what is abundantly clear is that she has a lot of love and passion for the magazine and its subject. It's an enjoyable read and a perfect planner for those wanting an active holiday on Dartmoor. Long may the publication continue!

After Jenny raved to Rich about the Timelapse film being shown in the Visitor Centre, we had to go in and see it. It didn't need selling to me, having seen it on my last visit I was keen to watch it again. As Rich later remarked, it is a film you need to see again and again, to take in everything that is going on.

Its creators; Alex Nail and Guy Richardson have done a grand job! For an interview with the pair, visit http://www.activedartmoor.com/timelapse.html. Meanwhile, here is the trailer to whet your appetite;


And finally, having seen the film, and loved it, we returned to the car to pick up our kit, and head off for a night on the moor. But that will be in another post..

All that remains of this one is to show you the route we took this morning: