Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Dartmoor: Hidden Tors on Trendlebere Down


Main outcrop of Trendlebere Tor in the Woods
Trendlebere Tor in the Woods
Fresh from a successful morning foray to Oddy Tor, we arrived back at the Manaton car park with time on our side. Tim earlier suggested he show me a hidden outcrop on the steep slopes of Trendlebere Down, a short drive to the south of here, a five minute drive.


I've had experience of the slopes of Trendlebere before on a circular to Water Rock and Gradner Rocks; on that occasion I abandoned my attempt to reach the track at the bottom, as walking alone I had concerns for my safety and returned to walk the road to a footpath near Becky Falls. With a companion, they were less daunting.

Trendlebere Down
Tim leads the way on Trendlebere Down
We followed a track from the road across a clearing of gorse, which dropped over the edge of the hill toward the wooded slopes below. Here, the path became narrower and undefined as it gets steeper. It isn't long before you see the first signs of an outcrop, a large flat slice of granite, sticking out of the ground like a giant's tombstone. Interesting enough, but I could see Tim eagerly continuing his descent.

Upper outcrop of Trendlebere Tor in the Woods.
Upper outcrop of Trendlebere Tor in the Woods

I soon saw the large pile, its pyramid top worthy of a visit itself, but when I followed Tim round the outcrop, descending beneath it,  the full spectacle was awesome!

Main outcrop of Trendlebere Tor in the Woods
Main outcrop of Trendlebere Tor in the Woods
It looks as though this huge tower is made predominately of giant boulders, balancing on a larger base, but likely there is more of this granite hidden beneath the earth. It reminded me of some of the giants near the Dewerstone, except this one was solitary.

Main outcrop of Trendlebere Tor in the Woods
Main outcrop of Trendlebere Tor in the Woods, from below

With the foliage, this tor is not on full display, like most outcrops within woodland, the time to visit is when the leaves have fallen. It is difficult to convey the sheer size of, what Tim has labelled "Tor In The Woods", you'll just have to visit yourself! 

Main outcrop of Trendlebere Tor in the Woods
Main outcrop of Trendlebere Tor in the Woods from below.
When looking at our position on my gps, I could see that Tor in the Woods, wasn't the area of unnamed rock clearly marked on the map, this was a smaller section a couple of hundred metres to the south-west.

A nice surprise; the prospect of another outcrop to find was a bonus we didn't expect. We began to contour the hill, heading north-east, immediately noticing a change to the ground beneath us. It was steep, but we were treading on a different type of rock and this area of rubble and chipping was difficult going, not your usual granite clitter.

Below, I spotted a narrow path, which we took differing routes to reach. The going to the marked rock was easier, but the exhibit was disappointing. Tim dubbed it Trendlebere North-West Tor.

Trendlebere North-West Tor
Trendlebere North-West Tor
We weren't sure of the rock type, Tim remarked he had seen a similar outcrop in Fingle Woods. We couldn't help but feel there was more to this higher up, but hidden between an impenetrable crown of gorse. We were never going to reach the top, but we managed to scramble further up the unstable slope where we were able to pass through a gap between what was a lower and higher outcrop.

Trendlebere North-West Tor
Trendlebere North-West Tor
Trendlebere North-West Tor
Trendlebere North-West Tor
We found another path at this height, and followed it hoping it would begin to ascend out of Houndtor Wood, but no, it progressed to a small combe and stream, with enough bracken to deter us from trying to follow it up out to the open down. We returned to the gap in North-West Tor, spotting a very narrow and crumbling path, many a rock dislodged as we picked our way back to Tor in the Woods.

Path out of the woods
Path out of the woods
We exited the way we entered, although the lungs were tested and heart quickened on the climb. The day was humid and this made the ascent more taxing than it should have been. As the track levelled out, I took a breather, looking back across the valley, to Riddy Hill, marked as Houndtor Ridge. We could see where Houndtor Wood ended and field began. At the back of the fields, we could make out the small copse on the summit, shrouding our prize from earlier that day. A fitting end to an excellent morning.

Looking to Nympenhole from Trendlebere
Looking to Oddy Tor from Trendlebere

The route to Tor in The Woods and Trendlebere North-West Tor.