Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Dartmoor: The Tors near Lee Moor

Blackalder Tor
Rich and I on Blackalder Tor
With our trip around Ditsworthy Warren and a wildcamp complete, Matt (@hillplodder), Rich (@FlintyRich) and I jumped back in the car and started off to visit some more tors in the area before the bad weather set in. We stopped off at the quarry car park near Burrator first so Matthew could bag Claig Tor, then drove over to the village of Lee Moor for a short walk.

We needn't have worried about the weather, as it was turning into a gorgeous warm sunny day. Heading west out of the village on a bridleway, we were soon walking on a good path with an old oak woodland to our right. We immediately noticed the unnatural green hills behind, evidence of earth being dumped from the clay works to our north, but reclaimed by nature. It did make for an odd landscape.

Within the woodland, we spied a tor, which we took to be Blackalder. The steep slope off the track, and the density of the trees deterred us from trying to reach it, so we walked further to where the oaks were replaced by bracken, and the way seemed more achievable.

Blackalder Tor
Blackalder Tor
It proved to be quite a challenge; Matt, Rich and I all took different routes to reach the granite, every step amongst the bracken a huge leap of faith in there actually being ground beneath each footfall. When at the granite wall of the tor, it still required some agility to climb out of the foliage and onto the back of the beast. Pretty chuffed we managed to make it, getting down was still going to take some doing.


Blackalder Tor
The bracken protecting Blackalder Tor
We all made it back to the path, and continued west to the village of Wotter. A short five minute spell of road walking before we hooked back up with a footpath that took us out on the moor again, in search of Collard Tor. We reached an obvious outcrop next to the path marked on the OS Map, but something didn't sit right with me.

Top of Collard Tor but not the main outcrop
Collard Tor or not?
I checked the coordinates on my phone, but it bared no resemblance to where the tor was marked AND where the path should be. Quite often, paths on OS maps across open moorland should not be taken literally, so we were almost ready to count this as a misplaced tor and move on, but as we had stopped for a rest, I took the opportunity to wander down the hill to see if there was something more substantial there.

Collard Tor
Collard Tor from above?
It appeared there was a likely contender, but the ground was littered with clitter among the long grass and I had difficulty balancing as I'd not taken my walking poles. So I abandoned my attempt to reach it and vowed to return to Collard Tor another day.

Rejoining Matt and Rich at the higher granite outcrop, we took the path, north-west onto Shaugh Moor, stopping to bag Hawks Tor.

Hawks Tor
Matt beside Hawks Tor
The same path now turned north-east, it was a kilometre and half or more to Saddlesborough Trig Point. Our given grid reference for Luxton Tor, appeared wrong, so while I went to search those coordinates, Matt and Rich went straight for the obvious outcrop.

Saddlesborough Trig Point
Saddlesborough Trig Point
I was soon back with them to confirm there was nothing of note where I had been, so another one to be adjusted on the Social Hiking Tors and Rocks of Dartmoor listings.

Saddlesborough
Luxton Tor
There was nothing left to do now but return to the car. I suggested we drop down by Hawks Tor and make our way back at a lower altitude. I had a hunch we might be able to spot Collard Tor better from below. I was right; as we reached the houses of Wotter, the tor could be seen above us. We stopped for another rest on the lawn by the village. I had ambitions that we could make it through the foliage and climb up to it. Before either Matt or Rich could argue, I had set off up the hill, through the bracken and clitter.

There were sections that turned this venture into a scramble for a short-arse like me, but Matt seemed to manage it with some sure footed rock hopping. As we all topped out, the notification went off on our phones, and we had successfully bagged Collard. My return was a lot quicker than I had expected!
Collard Tor
Rich after the climb up Collard Tor
We returned on the path past Blackalder Tor, and made it back to the car in Lee Moor by 2pm. Whilst thoughts were now on the journey home,  we still had time to nip out to a car park not half a kilometre away and quickly bag Whitehill Tor, by the roadside
.
Whitehill Tor
Whitehill Tor
Whitehill Tor
Whitehill Tor

From there, we returned to Yelverton, stopping off for an ice cream at Cadover Bridge enroute. I finally dropped Matt and Rich out at Yelverton to get the bus to Plymouth Railway Station. A successful weekend of tor bagging, with only one tor left behind; Little Hen, but that can wait for another time.

Our route: