Thursday, 28 August 2014

Dartmoor: another Sheeps Tor wildcamp

Stone row and circle above Newlycombe Lake, looking to Hingston Hill
Stone row above Newlycombe Lake, looking to Hingston Hill
Continuing our adventures after our morning stroll (my previous post HERE), we left Princetown early afternoon. Our destination was to be Sheeps Tor for a wild camp. Time would tell how we fared, as the weather was looking ominous; a reliable prediction of a soggy conclusion to the day hanging over us!

We wandered off in completely the opposite direction to our destination; instead, picking up a less popular bridleway that would take us passed a well known bronze age cist known as "Crock of Gold". An interesting point on the route, but Rich and I were happily chatting as we sauntered along, and went right passed it without me pointing it out to him! 

We reached a fence line, which I intended to follow, on the lookout for another cist enroute, but Rich had spotted we had passed Royal Tor, on Royal Hill, and so we thought it best to pop up there and bag it.

Royal Hill
Royal Tor
We headed west from Royal Hill, descending to the Strane River, eagerly trying to spot a likely suspect for Strane Tor. We saw a few outcrops, nothing significant, and nothing that matched the coordinates we had. 

Crossing the river at a small ford, we turned upstream, avoiding the worst of the mire to follow a sturdier section along a disused leat. We reached a likely candidate, climbed up it and stood there waiting for notification on Rich's smartphone to confirm we had acheived our goal.

But nothing. I was beginning to regret leaving my copy of Dartmoor Tors and Rocks in the car!

@FlintyRich waiting for confirmation this is Strane Tor (it isn't!)
To be or not to be Strane Tor?
The coordinates still suggested it was further upstream, and so we moved on. Eventually, the pushover notification came through and we assumed it was for where we had stopped earlier, so we were content with that and left the river. Further investigation when I got home revealed that while we were close enough to bag Strane Tor, we hadn't stood on it. Apparently all it is is flat slabs of granite that sit between two forks of the stream. Strane Tor will have to be revisited and conquered properly!

We picked up a bridleway through a small farm called Peat Cot and over the Devonport Leat. Now we could see Sheeps Tor in the distance as we crossed the cycle track that goes from Princetown to Dittsworthy Warren via the ruins of the Eylesbarrow Tin Mine. We descended a rocky bridleway towards Newleycombe Lake, but once we reached yet another section of the Devonport Leat, we turned left, following its banks to a cross I had never visited before.

Cross near the Devonport Leat
Cross near Devonport Leat, near the tunnel
Further on, we reached a point where the leat disappeared into a tunnel, or to be more accurate, reappears after entering the hill near Nun's Cross Farm about 500 metres east.

Tunnel exit for the Devonport Leat
The Devonport Leat Tunnel Exit
We climbed up above the tunnel, and stopped briefly to admire the location of an old tinners hut nearby. I just love wandering across this moor and happening upon these bits of archaeology, be it over four thousand years or within living memory.

Tinners Hut near the Devonport Leat
Tinners Hut near Devonport Leat
We were now climbing up onto the ridge above Newleycombe Lake, where we stopped at a large cairn for a bite to eat. After about ten minutes, we put our packs back on and made straight for an impressive stone row and circle, just below Hingston Hill. Once again, I had not visited this part of the moor, and once again I was thrilled to come across it.

Stone row and circle above Newlycombe Lake
Stone row and circle above Newleycombe Lake
Further on, however, I was on very familiar territory, having been here just a few weeks before with +Phil Sorrell+Kate Alford, and +Neil Rooke . With Rich in tow, it was only right that we should revisit Combshead Tor, Hingston Hill, and the others on the descent to Burrator.

Sheeps Tor from Combshead Tor
Sheeps Tor from Combshead Tor
Down Tor
Down Tor
Passed Down Tor, no lounging on tors this time given it was getting late, we bagged Little Down and made our way to Snappers Tor. My first visit to this tor, I wasn't very taken by it, but could see that hidden amongst the ferns, there was a drop. This time, we wandered around to the other bank of the re-entrant it sat above to get another perspective of it, and from where we now stood, it looked a significant tor.

Snappers Tor
Snappers Tor? No.
However, I have since found, thanks to +Matthew King, that an error had been made and this outcrop is not Snappers Tor at all! We summitted what we thought was Middleworth Tor, but was, in fact, Snappers, took some photos, and then headed down to the car park at the Burrator Reservoir, by a route that missed the real Middleworth Tor completely!

Middleworth Tor
Snappers Tor, and not Middleworth
Just as we reached the car park, we took a bridleway sharp left, along the edge of the Middleworth Plantation, and down to the Narrator Brook where we collected a few litres of water for our stay on Sheeps Tor.

Laden with water, we climbed up a path up through Outholme Wood, to Yellowmead Down. The rain had abated, but knowing it would return, we were keen to make our way up to Sheeps Tor.

We were up on the tor by 7.30pm. and our tents were set up sharpish. We had time to briefly visit the top of the largest granite outcrop but from the south-west, it was obvious that soon the rain would arrive along with the clag. There was nothing left to do but dash for our tents and call it a night.

The rain fell for most of the night, and despite our sheltered spot, my tent was flapping, making it a restless one. We awoke to more clag, and after this shot from my tent, the camera was stowed snug and dry in my pack for the walk out.

Sheeps Tor Clag
Sheeps Tor Clag

We were off by 9.30am. In the mist we bagged Narrator nearby and then dropped down to the Roughtor Plantation. We took the opportunity, while it wasn't raining too heavily, to visit Rough Tor (Burrator), but this time I tried to find it from a different direction. We eventually found where I had been a few weeks earlier, but in our search we had come across a much more impressive tor like outcrop a mere fifty metres further north, lower down and deeper into the darkness of the pine plantation. I would even venture to suggest that our find might be the tor proper! Given the lack of light, we didn't take a photo, I'll definitely be back to take one soon, though.

Retracing our steps to the Narrator Brook and the car park, we turned into Norsworthy Plantation, passed Leather Tor Bridge, and then right up onto the open moor. Now the rain began to hammer down. Whilst my thoughts, since I got up, were of a coffee and a sausage and egg bap in the Fox Tor Cafe, we still took the opportunity to deviate from the direct route to bag Cramber Tor.

From Cramber Tor, I pulled out the compass for some navigating to South Hessary Tor, but the mist lifted in the direction of Hart Tor, and given this route wouldn't entail trudging down the cycle track into Princetown, we decided to traverse over this one.

At Hart Tor, the rain returned. I was enjoying this bout of decent rain, it had been so long since I had walked in such a downpour and it was reassuring that I was prepared to do so! As we eventually walked into Princetown, it eased again and with a quick change into some dry clothes we were soon in the welcoming atmosphere of the cafe, nursing a decent cup of coffee and devouring the bap I had been thinking about all morning!

And the route;