Friday, 28 April 2017

Dartmoor: Torrycombe Tor, Crownhill Tor

Moss on Whitehill Tor lower outcrop
Moss on Torrycombe (Whitehill) Tor lower
I'll admit that Crownhill Tor was something of an irritant; not even within the national park and surrounded by the awful china clay works that scar the landscape. I expected little of the walk to bag this one, possibly there, back, job done. I'm pleased to report I was wrong!

I pulled in at the car park a short distance from Whitehill Tor, opposite the Lee Moor Clay Works. Prepared for a quick twenty minute bag, I went east along the busy road, crossing the open access field, south, towards Crownhill.

Open Access to Crownhill Tor
Open Access to Crownhill Tor
Through another gate, the tor stands above you. A collection of scattered granite across the hill, with a low outcrop on its summit, it was proving to be as disappointing as I envisaged it.

Crownhill Tor
Crownhill Tor
View from Crownhill Tor
View from Crownhill Tor
Top of Crownhill Tor
Top of Crownhill Tor
Its summit views were dominated by the clay works on Lee Moor, but if you can blot out the glare from the exposed pits, you'll notice that Whitehill Tor has a lot more to offer than can be seen from the road. It was then I decided to make this walk a circular.

Whitehill Tor
Whitehill Tor from Crownhill
First, I took a quick look further south, to the top of the hill, but the view had been decimated by Headon China Clay Works.

Headon China Clay Works the other side of Crownhill Tor
Headon China Clay Works
I started down towards Whitehill Tor, a little uncertain as to how I was going to get there. The route enters the Torycombe Valley and crosses a brook. This is right on the edge of some clay works and access wasn't obvious on the map.

Stepping into Knowle Wood, the walk took on a different feel. Whilst the clay industry was still a few metres away, there were pockets of this combe where you could be a million miles away.

Knowle Wood
Knowle Wood
Lee Moor China Clay Works
Lee Moor China Clay Works
I could hear the rushing of water and gravitated to the steep banks of Tory Brook where I discovered a wonderful scene of tumbling water. I later found there is a waterfall marked on the map, this is further upstream and I didn't visit it, but the falls I found were good enough.

Waterfall on Tory Brook
Waterfall on Tory Brook
The sheer drops of the brook, here, meant I couldn't cross so I descended to the valley floor where I encountered a good place at the base of a leat.

Knowle Wood
Knowle Wood
Tory Brook
Tory Brook
Leat tumbling to Tory Brook
Leat tumbling in Tory Brook
Knowle Wood
Knowle Wood
I followed the leat up to a works track, the other side of which I could see a lot of exposed granite hidden within the woodland. Encountering Whitehill Tor much lower than expected was exciting.

Also known as Torrycombe Tor, a name I prefer and will hence call it from now on, I had previously bagged the tor in the height of summer when the bracken hid its extent well. On this occasion I felt I was visiting a new tor!

Whitehill Tor lower outcrop
Torrycombe Tor Lower
Whitehill Tor lower outcrop
Torrycombe Tor Lower
Whitehill Tor lower outcrop
Torrycombe Tor Lower
Occasionally, when the outcrop has forced a clearing of the woodland canopy, there is a sharp reminder of your location, surrounded by the works. This little green valley is a real oasis.

View of the clay works from Whitehill Tor lower outcrop
View of the clay works from Torrycombe Tor Lower
Whitehill Tor lower outcrop
Torrycombe Tor Lower
Boulder on Whitehill Tor lower outcrop
Boulder on Torrycombe Tor Lower
Clambering over the top of the lower outcrop, I came to the major works road to the pits below. The other side of this road, Torrycombe Tor upper appears. 

Whitehill Tor upper
Torrycombe Tor Upper
Whitehill Tor upper and lower split by a road to the clay works
Torrycombe Tor Upper and Lower split by a road to the clay works
At first glance you could argue that, considering the distance between the two outcrops, this could be two tors, but I expect they had been parted years ago when clearing for the road.

Whitehill Tor upper
Torrycombe Tor Upper
Climbing up to the top of the tor and over was a simple affair without the barrier of bracken. Its summit popping out of the woodland, it possessed a pleasant view over the Torycombe Valley, Knowle Wood, and further to Crownhill Tor.

Whitehill Tor upper
Torrycombe Tor Upper
View from Whitehill Tor upper
View from Torrycombe Tor Upper
Trees below Whitehill Tor upper
Trees below Torrycombe Tor Upper
Once over the top, you have in front of you a short footpath leading to the busy road and the car park. This is the route I had taken when I had previously visited the tor and had been unimpressed. Now, just before spring had begun to cloak the scene, I could really appreciate Torrycombe. I suggest other tor baggers to do the same.

Whitehill Tor upper
Torrycombe Tor Upper
Here is the short route for those that wish to discover its delights: