Monday, 23 October 2017

Dartmoor: Forbidden Bel Tor

Bel Tor
Bel Tor
After Vixen, Bel Tor, sat so close to a car park bearing its name, is probably the most well known forbidden outcrop on Dartmoor. It has been closed to the public for over 25 years now.

William Crossing, in his "Guide to Dartmoor" tells us that; "On the left within a farm enclosure is Bel Tor, which although only a small pile, is sufficiently interesting to call for notice. A gate in the wall will enable the rambler to visit it." Sadly, that gate now has the obligatory "private" sign, and, if landowner permission cannot be sought, the public must be content with gazing from the perimeter walls well over one hundred metres away.

Bel Tor
Bel Tor
Walking the perimeter, enticing glimpses of the extent of the granite can be had, especially if you stand at Mel Tor, looking north. You will see two main outcrops on a hill being consumed by gorse. For a description of the outcrops, both William Crossing and Eric Hemery give an incite from those days when access was not an issue.

Bel Tor
Bel Tor
Hemery, in "High Dartmoor", says that from a distance, the tor "offers little of interest" but then goes on to describe a logan stone and three rock basins.

Bel Tor from Mel Tor
Bel Tor from Mel Tor
Crossing tells of the largest rock basin; "On the surface of a logan, curiously poised and appearing as though it would topple over at any moment, is a rock basin measuring 38 inches by 32, with shelving sides, and to this a tradition attaches. It used to be said that good fortune would await anyone seeing the reflection of the rising sun collected in it." William Crossing, p. 336-337.

Bel Tor
Bel Tor
Ordnance Survey maps show us that there is also a triangulation pillar on its top, but, looking from so far away, you would not guess it, thanks to the encroaching gorse and bracken. Looking at the trigpointing.uk website, the forbidden location of pillar number 3469 makes it one sought by enthusiasts, who likely visit more often than tor baggers.

Trig on Bel Tor
Bel Tor
It is disappointing that this tor is incarcerated with no visitor privileges. Whilst the fields surrounding the tor are farmed, often patrolled by cattle, a permissive footpath would be welcomed for this one. It works for the likes of Bag Tor, or Heltor Rock, so why not this one? It would be nice to see those rock basins both Crossing and Hemery refer to.

Such a shame.