Sunday, 20 August 2017

Dartmoor: A Tor named "Granate" - part one

Logan Stone on Corn Ridge
Logan stone on Corn Ridge
Every time I get wind of a tor I haven't heard of before, the urge to get out there and find it takes hold. Less than 24 hours had passed, from my attention being captured, and I was venturing out in a brief window between the rain, in search of "Granate" Tor.

I had been tagged, by Phil Sorrell, into a conversation on the Facebook page of Legendary Dartmoor, where he had mentioned a Granite Tor lying north of Branscombe Loaf. When I asked for reference, I received the following; "Other Ordnance Surveyor's drawings dated to 1802-3 give the name ...Granate Tor just north of Branscombe's Loaf on the north-west side of the moor." Tom Greeves, Dartmoor Magazine, Summer 1994, p.6."

I found the Ordnance Survey map of 1803 online here. I had my suspicions this could be another one of those misnomers; the same map also lists "Litorally Tor", to the west of Scorhill Down, which all those seeking have failed to find.

1803 Ordnance Survey Map
I had previously looked at Google Map Satellite view for some inkling of granite to the north of Branscombe's Loaf, finding plenty of it scattered across the hillside, but this looked very much like clitter. I feared that if there were a tor here, it would be a ruined one. I did spot one candidate, though, although it looked too far north and too far into the bowl of Corn Hole.

Satellite view of outcrop in Corn Hole
Satellite view of outcrop in Corn Hole


Shelstone Tor and Corn Hole
Shelstone Tor and Corn Hole

Despite my reservations, I never need an excuse to visit Corn Hole, one of my favourite spots on the moor. I parked at Prewley Moor and made my way over to this natural amphitheatre. I soon found the outcrop found on the satellite view, obvious by the green rectangle of grass on top of the largest slab.

Corn Hole Rocks
Corn Hole Rocks
Corn Hole Rocks
Corn Hole Rocks

Convinced this wasn't Granate Tor and for want of an official name, I dubbed this "Corn Hole Rocks", a collection of low granite, at SX 55366 89599,  protruding from the grass slopes. It possesses a lovely vista to Shelstone Tor, and beyond to the high moor.

Corn Hole Rocks
Corn Hole Rocks

I now looked south, and up Corn Ridge. A bit of a slog, but the ground was good. I reached an intriguing feature cut across the side of the hill; was this ditch natural, a disused leat or merely an old track worn by footfall? Whatever its origins, it was a point to catch my breath and enjoy the scene.

Disused leat on ascent of Corn Ridge?
Disused leat on Corn Ridge?
Disused leat on ascent of Corn Ridge?
Disused leat on Corn Ridge?

I soon started to encounter the clitter I had seen on Google the day before. It is quite extensive and pinpointing a significant outcrop proved tricky. I swept back and forth across the hillside, searching extensively, and whilst I found some large boulders, this, if it were Granate Tor, looked very much to be ruined.

Looking for Granate Tor
Looking for Granate Tor
Could this clitter be all that was left of Granate Tor?
Could this clitter be all that was left of  Granate Tor

I found myself up on the top of the ridge and the familiar Branscombe's Loaf loomed into view. I made my way over to the "loaf", then to the smaller outcrop William Crossing cites as the "cheese", where I sat and surveyed the area north for clues.

Branscombe's Loaf
Branscombe's Loaf
Branscombe Cheese
Branscombe's "cheese"
I figured I would visit Shelstone Tor before I headed back to the car, and so I trod northwards, back into the clitter field. On this occasion, I spotted a tiny outcrop, at SX 55251 89363, significant because of a logan stone atop, that still rocked when I "surfed" upon it. It was a nice feature and, if this were the lost outcrop, as good a spot as any to mark as the position of Granate Tor.

Corn Ridge Logan Stone
Corn Ridge Logan Stone
Corn Ridge views
Corn Ridge views

I dropped around the ridge of Corn Hole, making my way down to Shelstone Tor. This is one of the best set of outcrops on the moor, in my humble opinion, possessing some great balancing boulders and a cracking view up the West Okement valley to Lints Tor.

Shelstone Tor
Shelstone Tor
Shelstone Tor
Shelstone Tor
Shelstone Tor looking to Black Tor
Views up the West Okement
Shelstone Tor, above Meldon Reservoir
Views down the West Okement

When making my way back across the hole to the car, I looked back up at Corn Ridge. It made me consider if there was anything on the north-west slope and I remembered some outcrops on the direct route from Branscombe's Loaf to Sourton Tors. I climbed the ridge again, I guess I was enjoying myself so much I didn't want the hunt to end! Back up to the loaf, I turned onto the trodden route to Sourton Tors. 

The small outcrop is just off the brow, to the left of the path. I took some time to consider it and my hunch is this was not the tor I was searching for, but I could well be wrong.

Outcrop to the west of Branscombe's Loaf, on the descent to Sourton Tors
Outcrop to the north-west of Branscombe's Loaf
Outcrop to the west of Branscombe's Loaf, on the descent to Sourton Tors
Outcrop to the north-west of Branscombe's Loaf
Outcrop to the west of Branscombe's Loaf, on the descent to Sourton Tors
Outcrop to the north-west of Branscombe's Loaf

I could see the rain sweeping across West Devon from here, and so decided to miss a visit to Sourton Tors, instead heading straight down to Prewley Moor, reaching the car just in time.

Ponies on Prewley Moor
Ponies on Prewley Moor

An enjoyable hunt, if not entirely successful. The likelihood is that Granate Tor was indeed ruined but I'm not convinced it was the clitter field I had encountered. It might be disappointing but the little logan on Corn Ridge is worth seeking out and I encourage the reader to search for better evidence of this tor. I will certainly be doing a bit more research and will return to take another look.

UPDATE!: Soon after this was post was published, I found a later Ordnance Survey map which put Granate Tor to the west of Branscombe's Loaf, and not north, as Tom Greeves suggested, WIth further information from Tim Jenkinson, I am now convinced I have not found the lost tor. Suffice to say, the search continues....

The days route: