Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Dartmoor: Social Hiking Meet - Pt 2

Outcrop below Cox Tor
A yet to be named outcrop below Cox Tor
Sunday morning, after breakfast, we said goodbye to Rik, then the rest of us drove to the Cox Tor car park for a "two part" walk. The rain, that had begun to fall the moment we finished yesterdays ramble at Haytor, had finally buggered off, and we were treated to a chilly day, with excellent visibility, affording fine views of West Devon and Cornwall.

So, why two parts? We were, essentially doing a figure of eight; first up we would retrace my route north, documented in my post The Tors East of Peter Tavy, and when back at the car park, venture south to visit the tors in the vicinity of the magnificent Pew Tor.

Contouring Cox Tor to an outcrop on the west side of the hill called, not surprisingly, Little Cox Tor, it was then down to Sharp Tor (Peter Tavy).

Sharp Tor (Peter Tavy)
Sharp Tor (Peter Tavy)
What becomes clear on this section of the walk is the change of rock formation in this part of Dartmoor. None of the tors here are granite.

Great Combe Tor is next, overlooking the Colly Brook valley, Peter Tavy sat to the west, Mary Tavy north-west, and Brent Tor obvious on the horizon. What a wonderful sight!

Great Combe Tor
Great Combe Tor
I adore Colly Brook! No matter what time of year, it is always an idyllic scene of tumbling water set amongst a beautiful sheltered, wild pocket of woodland. It seems a world away from the open moorland above.

Dean crossing Colly Brook
Dean crossing Colly Brook
Today, the Colly Brook was full and fast, and it was a wonderful spot for a pause before moving on up to one of my favourite tors; the moss wrapped gem that is Little Combe Tor!

Dean and Rich on Little Combe Tor
Dean and Rich on Little Combe Tor
Out of the valley, we reached Furze Tor, set beside a track that goes deep into the moor. Here you can clearly see three other tors in close proximity; Boulters Tor, Little Boulters Tor, and Smeardon Down Tor.

Phil and Jim on Little Boulters Tor
Phil and Jim on Little Boulters Tor
I really like Smeardon Down. My second visit and I rather fancy a wild camp up here. Not ideal, as the nearest water source is back down at Colly Brook, but the idea of watching the sun set across the big skies of West Devon and Brent Tor really appeal. One for next summer.

Smeardon Down Tor
Smeardon Down Tor
We returned on a path, passing Boulters Tor again, to the track, before reaching Setters Tor. From here, we spied Stephen's Grave, so wandered over to pay our respects.

At the grave, there is an obvious bridleway. We followed it in the direction of Wedlake Farm, veering left of it slightly to visit the magnificent Wedlake Tor; my party were little impressed by its stature, as was I when I first bagged it.

Wedlake Tor
The unimpressive Wedlake Tor
Down to Wedlake. Not an actual "lake" in the common use of the word. Many of the "lakes" on Dartmoor are actually streams where the head resembles a lake bed, likely drained in the days of medieval tin mining. Once again, the excellent Legendary Dartmoor has done the research to explain it further.

Wedlake feeding into Colly Brook
Wedlake, feeding into Colly Brook
We climbed up to the saddle between Cox Tor and Staple Tor. Sitting here is a small tarn, larger than usual thanks to the rainfall of the past couple of weeks. You would be forgiven for thinking it is temporary, but check the OS 1:25k map, and it is definitely marked.

Lake in saddle near Cox Tor
Lake in the saddle between Cox Tor and Staple Tors
It was then just a short climb to the trig point at Cox Tor, with a fine scenic vista of the south.

Cox Tor
Dean Read, Phil Sorrell and Rich Flint on Cox Tor
We ate our lunch in a sheltered spot, just below the summit, before descending down to the car park for the end of part one.

Once there, mindful of a long journey back to London, I bailed on part two of the walk, along with Jim. Phil took up the leading reign, taking the rest south to see his beloved Pew Tor, and a few other baggable tors and rocks. Jim and I, disappointed to find the ice cream van in the car park didn't do coffee or teas, drove down to the Dartmoor Inn, Merivale, to satisfy my craving for a brew.

An hour or so later, they all returned, and we said our goodbyes. A very successful weekend. I was so pleased I decided to come despite my chest infection!

I'll leave you with a couple of links, a video of the weekend, and this particularly poignant comment from Matthew; 

"After so many years looking to rockier terrain for my chill out, I think I’m coming to realise that moors may possibly meet my need better than anything else. The feeling of space is so much greater than somewhere like the Lake District, cut as it is into deeper and more dramatic valleys. On Dartmoor, the valleys are gentle and the terrain just rolls on and on."

You can read the rest of Matthew's (@hillplodder) excellent account of the weekend; one that made my post all the more difficult to write;
And finally, when Dean Read accepted my invitation, I was immediately looking forward to his video account of the weekend! Like all his videos, he captured the walks and the two days brilliantly, and if you wish to watch it, here it is below;


And the route: