Saturday, 22 August 2015

Dartmoor: The Tors and Rocks above the Plym from Cadover Bridge

Dewerstone Rock
Dewerstone Rocks
Recent trips down to Dartmoor have had the distraction of trying to buy a home and as a result, walks have been sidelined. Saturday, the first day of August, though, I had time to get out and so I set off to the scout hut near Ditsworthy Warren to explore the tors in the area. That initial idea didn't go to plan, though, as I arrived late morning and had been beaten to the parking spots. I had to come up with an alternative starting point quickly, or the day would be gone, and whilst meandering across the narrow roads of the open moor I found myself down in the car park next to Cadover Cross.

This was new territory for me, but as I whittle away at the list of tors and rocks, I'm always excited about what I may find. 

Cadover Cross
Cadover Cross
I struck west, to Cadover Cross, and then up onto Wigford Down. All very nice, with views into the moor, but on the map, the Plym heading off the moor is what catches your eye.

Wigford Down
Wigford Down
A path lined with bracken, above the tree line of Cadworthy Wood, takes you down to Cadworthy Tor, where the anticipated vista doesn't disappoint. The tower of Dewerstone Rock sits dramatically on the edge of the valley, overlooking the ancient oak, while on the other side, Shaugh Beacon sits waiting for my visit.

View from Cadworthy Tor
View from Cadworthy Tor
I walked to the end of the ridge, where an unnamed tor sits within an ancient settlement. I'm not sure if this is an extension of Dewerstone, which sits lower to the south-east, and naturally steals the attention.

Unnamed Tor above Dewerstone Rock
Unnamed tor above Dewerstone Rock
Track down to the Plym
Track down to the Plym

And so to the descent, an inviting gentle path draws you into Dewerstone Wood, and once inside, promptly turns nasty. The descent is a test for the legs with big strides down amongst tree roots, moss covered rock and mud. 

Beautiful Dewerstone Wood
Beautiful Dewerstone Wood
By the time I reached the edge of Dewerstone Rock, where some climbers were playing, about half way down the valley side, the lactic acid had built up in my legs and the pain had me thinking I might have to curtail the walk. But a rest helped and I was further aided by a slight easing of the task for the remainder of the descent.

Plenty of options for climbers around Dewerstone Rock
Plenty of options for climbers around Dewerstone Rock
Outcrop in Dewerstone Wood
Outcrop in Dewerstone Rock
I finally hit a proper path, one that is used by climbers to access the rock, and I followed it to see the base. It's a stunning location, and there were plenty out making the most of the granite wall.

Below Dewerstone Rock
Below Dewerstone Rock
I went off path down to the Plym. I'm becoming a bit of a fan of these woodland and river locations. After being wowed by Double Waters a couple of months back, I was no less enthralled by today's discovery.

River Plym
River Plym
I followed the bank of the river as best I could. There was a path, but there was also some tree hugging sections to make it more of a challenge. Eventually, you hit the main track through Dewerstone Wood before reaching Shaugh Bridge.

Shaugh Bridge. Where the River Meavy meets the Plym
Shaugh Bridge. Where the River Meavy meets the Plym
Another highlight, where the River Meavy meets the Plym. With a car park a short distance away, it would be a nice spot to bring a picnic. Most users of the car park are keen to climb the rocks further up the valley, so I had it to myself for a ten minute break.

I left the scene, making a mental note to explore the Meavy at some point, and with a resolve to one day walk the Dartmoor rivers from source to sea (or wherever they end up). Crossing the Plym on a wooden bridge, I entered the car park, with its ruins of the kilns for the Shaugh China Clay Works.

Ruins of the Shaugh China Clay Works
Ruined kilns of the Shaugh China Clay Works
Now, I had a decision. My next objective was Shaugh Beacon. I saw two options; one was to take the road up towards Shaugh Prior and find a small path out onto the access land where the beacon is situated. But I figured the more attractive route to bag it would be to follow the marked path high along the valley, and veer off when the foliage looked like it was thin enough to succeed.

Permissive "Steps"
Permissive "Steps"
Up the steep permissive steps, I was soon following an uneven path with a broken clay pipe running its length. I read that liquidised clay was pumped down from the quarries on the open moor, to the kiln I had passed earlier, and assume this broken pipe was the route it took.  

It was then that I feared I may have made an error, not entirely of my making. On the OS map, the path looks to be running above the tree line, and along the boundary of the access land on West Down. In reality, I was still in the woods, and finding a route up and out into the open was proving difficult.

Granite near Shaugh Works
Granite near Shaugh Works
Three times, I struck up the hill, only to be met with a jungle of bracken. After about half an hour of this frustration I eventually admitted defeat and withdrew; this bag could wait until the winter.

Each attempt to ascend to Shaugh Beacon thwarted!
Each attempt to Shaugh Beacon thwarted
I returned to the clay pipe path and began my walk back to the car. Occasionally I caught glimpses of Dewerstone Rock through the trees, but once I reached North Wood, the panoramas went and were replaced with idyllic shady river spots.

Dewerstone Rock
Dewerstone Rock
Entering North Wood
Entering North Wood
The number of people increased, with plenty of dog walkers and families, but that is to be expected as the car park at Cadover Bridge is close. I still managed to find some peace, though, and stopped for a late lunch on some rocks along the Plym bank.

The River Plym
The River Plym
The River Plym, looking downstream
The River Plym, looking downstream

A short distance on, I was out of the woods and at the Cadover Bridge car park. There were many people here on the pony manicured lawn; some enjoying a barbecue, whilst others were scoffing an ice cream from the van parked nearby. I didn't stop. My car was a bit further on, over the bridge, and it made sense to finish the walk, then drive back to enjoy a 99!

Cadover Bridge
Cadover Bridge

All in all, Shaugh Beacon excepted, it had been a fine walk! Considering I had originally planned a walk on the open moor, today had turned out really well!