Saturday, 18 November 2017

Dartmoor: Nattor (with kind permission)

Nattor (12)
Nattor
Back to a weekend in mid-September, I had half a mind to finally bag Nattor, but as this was a long way to come for such a minor outcrop, I planned to walk a circular from Burrator Reservoir. Although, when I had parked up I had still yet to decide on the route to take.

I set off from Claig Tor quarry car park, towards the reservoir, but quickly stepped off the road to explore the lower outcrops of Claig. The upper outcrop is fairly well known, documented in Ken Ringwood's book, but few will drop down through the trees to the River Meavy, below the dam wall.

Claig Tor (upper)
Claig Tor (upper)
Claig Tor (lower)
Claig Tor (lower)
Claig Tor (lower) (2)
Claig Tor (lower)
Whilst down here, I came across Drake's Leat. Also known as Plymouth Leat, the purpose of this seventeen and a half mile watercourse was to supply the City of Plymouth, and its important naval port, with water.

Drake's Leat
Drake's Leat
It was the idea of Sir Francis Drake, then mayor of Plymouth, and constructed in the late 16th century to tap the River Meavy on Dartmoor. Construction began in 1590 and was completed a year later.

Drake's Leat (2)
Drake's Leat
The best preserved part of the leat can be viewed further down, as it skirts Roborough Down, where a cycle path known as Drake's trail gives easy access to it. At this section, you are closest to the source, which now lies beneath Burrator Reservoir.

Drake's Leat sign
Drake's Leat sign
I left the leat, taking a leafy footpath down to the village of Meavy. Passing through a couple of fields, I came to the road, turning left to head for the crossing of the River Meavy.

Footpath to Meavy (2)
Footpath to Meavy
At the ancient, now redundant, ford, with its set of stepping stones, the road bends sharp left, proceeding to Higher Meavy Bridge, also known as Marchant's Bridge.

Stepping Stones near Higher Meavy Bridge
Stepping stones near Higher Meavy Bridge
Higher Meavy Bridge
Higher Meavy Bridge
I followed the road up to Marchant's Cross, stopping to admire this tall waymark, with an incised cross on both faces. I then turned left, following the lane towards Yeo Farm.

Marchant's Cross
Marchant's Cross
Marchant's Cross (4)
Marchant's Cross
As the lane turned to the farm, I left the tarmac, following the rocky track that climbed up to the road near Ringmoor Cottage, before turning left. At first chance I stepped onto Ringmoor Down, heading east, through a gate in a long wire fence, to Gutter Tor, over a kilometre away.

Fence on Ringmoor Down
Fence on Ringmoor Down
Bull on Gutter Tor
Bull on Gutter Tor
I was wary of a serious looking bull, when I approached the trig point near Gutter Tor, but he wasn't particularly interested in my presence. The trig point is maintained, as the plaque on it says, by Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Plymouth.

Gutter Tor Trig Point
Gutter Tor Trig point
Gutter Tor Trig Point (2)
Gutter Tor Trig Pillar
I would have liked to have spent a bit more time at Gutter Tor, but the enclosure it resides was being used for some military training. There was a scattering of basha shelters and soldiers either having a brew or packing up, while the position was protected by a sentry manning a machine gun positioned on a rock, aimed down the hill.
It was odd to be wandering through the scene. I decided to make an exit when I almost stepped on a sniper as I jumped down from the highest outcrop!

Gutter Tor
Gutter Tor
Gutter Tor (3)
Gutter Tor
I went down to the road that provides access to the scout hut. I was a stone's throw from the location of Nattor, but from the road it is impossible to see. I stood at the gate to the field and wondered if it was close enough for me to bag without contacting the landowner. A few months ago I had sent a letter to Nattor Farm, to ask permission, and they had replied to let me know that they no longer owned the land but gave me a name and phone number I could call.

I rang the number, explained what I was doing and what I wanted to do, which always sounds a bit odd when I'm actually saying it out loud! The landowner asked if it was just me, I said it was so he told me to just hop over the two gates.

As I said, Nattor cannot be seen from the road. It lies hidden just off the brow of the hill as it drops down to Sheepstor Brook.

Nattor (2)
Nattor
The tor consists of a few small granite outcrops, with no real significant height. It is more a collection of exposed boulders rather than an obvious outcrop, but it suggests it was once a more impressive sight.

Nattor (4)
Nattor
Nattor (5)
Nattor
Nattor (7)
Nattor
Despite its low stature, the location gives for a lovely view, looking north to one of my favourites; Sheeps Tor. As we will see later, looking back from Sheeps shows the extent of Nattor.

Nattor, Sheeps Tor in the background
Nattor, Sheeps Tor in the background
I rejoined the road, and went east, passed the scout hut. I was delighted to see this herd of Highland's chilling by the track, at the point where I turned north, for Sheeps Tor.

Highland Cattle (2)
Highland Cattle
Highland Cattle (3)
Highland Cattle
As I mentioned, when I scaled Sheeps Tor, Nattor is better seen and its scattered appearance suggests it is a ruined tor.

Nattor from Sheeps Tor
Nattor from Sheeps Tor
I stopped on the summit of Sheeps Tor for something to eat but that plan was soon scuppered when I opened my lunch box to find I had picked up my defrosting dinner and left my sandwiches back in the fridge! Just as well I wasn't far from the end of the walk, and it was all downhill!

Burrator Reservoir from Sheeps Tor (2)
Burrator Reservoir from Sheeps Tor
On my way down to the reservoir, I passed Maiden Tor, although why this has been singled out to be named among all the other outcrops across the side of Sheeps, I just don't know.

Maiden Tor
Maiden Tor
The green bridleway at the bottom of the hill is a picturesque shady spot, with lichen covered rocks across the floor, between two walls. It takes you to where there is the option to visit the reservoir or walk the road back to the car park.

Bridleway at the bottom of Sheeps Tor
Bridleway at the bottom of Sheeps Tor
I decided on the road, all the way to the dam wall, but with a side excursion to Burra Tor. This tor never fails to please me and each time I visit, I seem to discover more of it. I keep meaning to make a special effort to explore the area and this particular encounter did nothing to change my mind.

Burra Tor (4)
Burra Tor
Burra Tor (14)
Burra Tor
Eventually, I tore myself away from Burra Tor, and returned to cross the dam, walking back to the car along the road that has ripped Claig Tor upper and lower apart. A lovely 14km walk on a fine late summers day!

The road separating Claig Tor upper and lower
The road separating Claig Tor upper and lower

Finally, the route: