Thursday, 30 October 2014

Dartmoor: The Burrator Perambulation for Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Plymouth) PT.2

Looking across Narrator Brook valley
Looking across Narrator Brook valley
This was proving to be a cracking day for a walk. Continuing on from part one, we were making good time on the Burrator Perambulation. Having passed the cut off point of Cramber Tor an hour and ten minutes before the deadline, the pressure to catch up with the rest had subsided.

Once we had crossed the Devonport Leat and hot footed it down to Crazywell Pool, we actually overtook a few of the other participants enjoying their lunch. My feet were feeling a little jaded after a six week lay off, thanks to work, but spirits lifted because the sun was out, and before us we could see the rest of the route.

Crazywell Pool
Crazywell Pool
Down to the bridleway, we wandered along it awhile, tracking the progress of some other perambulation walkers in the fields of Newlycombe Lake, below. They were looking for an opportunity to cross the stream and we were curious as to where that would be. Before the bridleway entered the forest, we met up with more stewards, who directed us down to the lake where they said there was a suitable place to cross.

Down at the stream, there was a crossing, but it would take a leap of faith. Mindful of the greasy rocks the day before, we explored further up stream for a safer spot. Newlycombe Lake was running fast, but we found a section ankle high to wade over. It's speed, however, compromised my gaiters and the feet took a soaking.

We stopped so I could wring out my socks, and watched those we had overtaken catch up. Some hopped over the suggested rocks, whilst others procrastinated as we had. Feet a little drier, we started up, leaving the others to their ten tor challenge, whilst we ploughed on up to Little Down Tor; back of the pack again.

Little Down Tor
Little Down Tor
Down Tor
Down Tor
Up and over Down Tor, we checked in, and then made the short ascent to the rockery of Hingston Hill, where we could see the next check point at Combshead Tor.

Combshead Tor from Hingston Hill
Combshead Tor from Hingston Hill
At Combshead Tor, a lady memeber of the Search and Rescue Team asked us about our team name "#ChasingRed". Rich explained the concept of Social Hiking and the Share Your Adventure website and how the peak icons on the website turn from green to red when you visit them. I'm not quite sure she understood and I really wished we had some Social Hiking business cards. Note to self; must get some more from +Phil Sorrell.

Rich went off to climb to the top of the tor, while I chatted with the rest of the team, who were tidying up the route behind us. We discussed the tors we had still to visit, the merits of visiting a couple of the lesser known, and I also discovered, to my dismay, that the book "Dartmoor's Tors and Rocks" was close to selling out and would not be reprinted.

Time to crack on, we went slightly off route to bag Cuckoo Rock, not listed in the perambulation paperwork, but close enough for a divert to make the total for the day twenty-one.

Cuckoo Rock
Cuckoo Rock
Cuckoo Rock
Cuckoo Rock
The route down to Narrator Brook was considerably easier in October, compared to last time, the height of summer, when the bracken was head high! We rejoined the official route to cross the brook, and then immediately lost it, wandering along an animal trail to an area of saturated ground and patches of featherbed.

We were soon back on track, though, and climbing higher above the Narrator Brook valley, with good views of Cuckoo Rock and the route we had traversed.

Cuckoo Rock
Cuckoo Rock
Looking back down the Narrator Brook valley
Looking back down the Narrator Brook valley
We entered a clear field and approached the site of Click Tor. Standing in our way, though was a barbed wire fence, and with the Search and Rescue Team close behind, we didn't like to hop over and potentially get into trouble. The team caught up with us and I asked if there was a gate nearby to access the next field, rather than descend to the brook and fight our way up to the tor, as was the case in the summer visit. The team leader suggested we just leave our bags there and hop over. So, while they looked after our rucksacks, we nipped over, entered the tree line, and bagged it almost immediately.

We now had our old "favourite", to go find. Over the past couple of months, including this occasion, I have visited it three times, and Rich, twice. Over a stile and into the Roughtor Plantation, we carefully negotiated a handful of cattle, leaving Search and Rescue to head straight for Sheeps Tor, where we would see them next.

Last visit, to Rough Tor (Burrator), we happened upon a more significant granite outcrop to the official one, but the poor light and drizzle in the dense woodland meant we couldn't get a decent photograph without a tripod. Today, the day was brighter, but still the plantation floor was starved of natural light, and again without a tripod, it was difficult to get something to do the tor justice. I did manage one semi-blurred image worth posting.

Rough Tor (Burrator)
Rough Tor (Burrator)
Getting out of the plantation, we found a chink in the fence that enabled us to avoid losing too much height before tackling Narrator and Sheeps Tor. I was grateful for that!

By now, my feet were screaming, and my stamina was flagging. Rich, with the advantage of a good pair of "Munro" hill legs, reached Narrator first.

Narrator
Narrator
We strolled over to Sheeps Tor, where about a dozen of the Search and Rescue Team sat, sheltered behind an outcrop, patiently waiting for us. We checked in, visited the main bulk of Sheeps Tor, and then made the tricky descent to Burrator Reservoir, with our hosts following closely behind. I did contemplate asking them if they wanted to practice and stretcher us off, but that, technically, would have been cheating.

Sheeps Tor
Sheeps Tor


Sheeps Tor, looking down to the Burrator Reservoir
Sheeps Tor, looking down to the Burrator Reservoir
We visited Maiden Tor, enroute to the road near the Reservoir. Here, we followed the road, and realised we had shaken off the others. Further along, we spotted they were taking a more scenic route along the reservoir shore, a trick we had missed.

Maiden Tor
Maiden Tor
Just before we crossed the Reservoir Dam, we turned left into the woodland, where our very last tor of the day sat. Last time, I adored this hidden gem; Burra Tor. Before, a shady retreat from the summer sun, this time, there were more visitors and the green canopy had all but fallen to the woodland floor and it wasn't as idyllic.

Burra Tor
Burra Tor
Burra Tor
Burra Tor
We returned to the others, stood on the Dam. It was then just a five minute walk back to the car park where we picked up our certificate and cloth badge, and enjoyed a welcome cup of tea. There were still other participants milling about. Whilst we sat and relaxed by the car, the organisers packed up, and one by one, everybody said their goodbyes and left. We changed out of our wet socks and smelly teeshirts, changed our footwear and packed the car. We then took a look at the time, and realised we had plenty of time to kill, and another cuppa at the Fox Tor Cafe was just the ticket!

A great day, pretty chuffed we had bagged 21 tors, and had been the only participants to attempt them all! We were also very grateful for the patience of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team - Plymouth. I'll definitely embark on another fund raising walk with them in the future!

All that remains is the route;