Thursday, 15 December 2016

Dartmoor: Arch Tor

The old Lich Way gate before the diversion
The old Lich Way gate before the diversion
After my unscheduled lunch stop at the Fox Tor Cafe, to sit out the fog, I jumped back in the car for the drive home. As I left Princetown, heading towards Bellever, I was thrilled to see the clouds had yet to form in these parts and the sun shone unhindered. Time to visit Arch Tor.

There was one space left in the tiny car park beside Higher Cherrybrook Bridge, on the corner of Bellever Forest. Once I had crossed the road, gone through the old Lich Way gate and started making my way over the moor, I realised I would have been better off parking nearer Postbridge. It was far simpler, rather than head straight for Arch Tor, to make my way to the Lich Way, a few hundred metres further up the B3212 and follow the path into the mire.

Joined the Lich Way new route
Joined the Lich Way "new" route

Once passed the boggiest of the ground, I left the Lich Way, which follows the old Mill Leat to Powdermills. It was a straightforward yomp up to the tor. 

Outcrops on the way to Arch Tor
Outcrops on the way up to Arch Tor
Approaching Arch Tor
Approaching Arch Tor

When you drive along the B3212 between Postbridge and the Two Bridges, you would scarcely notice this lonely outcrop just off the summit of Archerton Hill, your head being spun by the rocky heights of Beardown, Littaford, Longaford and Higher White. 

My friends, Phil and Sarah, who were there earlier this year, dubbed it "The Lonely Tor" and I can understand why. Other than to actually visit the outcrop, there is no particular reason to find yourself here. Beyond it, there is a mire that would surely hamper travel to Broad Down.

Arch Tor
Arch Tor

William Crossing, in his "Guide to Dartmoor" dismissively refers to Arch as both "merely a small lump of rock" and a "small mass", but Terry Bound, in his book "The A To Z of Dartmoor Tors" is pretty scathing saying;"..hardly worth the name 'tor'".

If you do visit, I'm sure you'll not be disappointed you went; it's views are pleasant and the granite is interesting enough, with a couple of rock basins and the initials "P.C" carved on the west face of a logan stone perched atop the largest outcrop. Who these initials refer to is unclear.

Here's a little video of the tor to whet the appetite!


Rock basin on Arch Tor
Rock basin on Arch Tor
Arch Tor
Arch Tor

Arch Tor
Arch Tor

Wandering back down to the Lich Way, I found some "Star Jelly". This is strange stuff, and there are all sorts of theories and myths as to what it is!

Star Jelly on the Lich Way
Star Jelly on the Lich Way
It's certainly not the remains of a meteor shower as folklore tells it, but is, in fact, the undigestible ovum jelly of a frog or toad that has been eaten by a predator. All that remains is this clear substance which expands as water from dew or rain is absorbed.

Star Jelly on the Lich Way
Star Jelly on the Lich Way

Lich Way
Lich Way

Approaching the forest, I decided to take the track through, rather than traipse along the road.

Bellever Forest
Bellever Forest

Bellever Forest
Bellever Forest

Bellever Forest
Bellever Forest

Bellever Forest
Bellever Forest

Bellever Forest
Bellever Forest
I took the first forestry track right, and began to encounter a succession of fallen trees blocking my gentle stroll. When these giants fall, they create a hell of a mess. Negotiating them took longer than I would have liked, the bark was wet from the previous nights rain, their girth made it tricky to climb over and the broken branches were ready to impale me!

More obstacles on the path, Bellever Forest
More obstacles on the path, Bellever Forest
Made it!
Made it!

In all, I think there were six trees on this obstacle course, I was relieved to make it out the other side, where I picked up the footpath down to the car park.

Back down to the car, out of Bellever Forest.
Back down to the car, out of Bellever Forest

Back at the car, I contemplated the day. I'd managed two different rocks that were a bit off the path of a decent days walk now bagged, and I was very satisfied with my visit to lonely Arch Tor.

And finally, the route: