Dartmoor: Winter walk to Branscombe's Loaf
Snow had arrived on Dartmoor a couple of days after Christmas, but I had yet to take a walk over the festive period thanks to a virus. When I got the chance, on the 28th, the best had gone, but there was still enough to make a short stroll up to Branscombe's Loaf worthwhile.
Normally, Prewley Moor can be a bit wet with plenty of stream hopping, but today the ground was firm and it made for easy going up to Sourton Tors.
|Sourton Ice Works|
I was delighted to see that the 19th Century ice works were frozen over but still, I wondered why anyone would have seen this as a lucrative business.
Most of the ice was sold to fish buyers in Plymouth although some was sold for domestic use. A combination of unsuitable winters and finally the introduction of artificially produced ice heralded the demise of the icework in 1886. Source: Historic England
|Sourton Ice Works|
At Sourton Tor, I turned south-east to meet the disused tramways which would make my journey into the moor easier with gradual ascent to Corn Ridge.
|Great Links behind Corn Ridge|
Reaching Granate Tor, I spied a snow storm sweeping towards me from the west. I turned my back and pushed on for Branscombe's Loaf before the cloud would surround me.
|Snow approaching fast.|
Sure enough, just as I reached this magnificent outcrop, the flakes began to fall and visibility disappeared. In all the excitement of the snow flurry, I was struck by the silence.
|Branscombe in the snow video.|
It was quite cold now and the cloud cover encouraged me to make for lower ground, the inclination to head back for the car on Prewley Moor. However, no sooner had I dropped down some fifty metres, the cloud had rolled on, the snow stopped, visibility was good and I changed course for Corn Hole Rocks.
|Ponies below Corn Ridge|
|Corn Hole Rocks|
I love the amphitheatre that is Corn Hole. It is a grand view and the rocks are a good spot to stop and admire it, although the granite was a little too icy to linger long without insulation. As I looked down, I watched a flock of sheep being herded by quad bikes across the bowl, driven up over Shelstone Tor and down into the West Okement valley.
|Sheep in Corn Hole|
Shelstone Tor was my next stop. Somewhat surprised to see a robin out here, hopping the rocks. It was nice to have company as I sat and sipped my hot Ribena whilst admiring a wintry Black Tor and the High Willhays ridge.
|Robin atop Shelstone Tor|
|Black Tor (Okehampton) and Black-a-tor Copse|
I now made my way back off the moor, across Corn Hole, taking one last look back at the ridge before I dropped down passed Prewley Farm. It had been good to experience a wintry Dartmoor, and I was thankful to have had the scene to myself.