Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The Rocks on Mardon Down and a Revisit to Pin Tor

Pin Tor rock basin
Pin Tor rock basin

This was going to be an exciting walk, not least because I was visiting the magnificent Pin Tor and Willingstone Rock, but the weather was forecast to be interesting, i.e changeable. 

I got off the bus in Moretonhampstead, home to some of my favourite (and least favourite!) walking memories, such as Hingston Rocks. I hadn't been here in ages and was happy to be revisiting. The first tor of the day, called Rectory Tor, was a new one to me, and is an interesting formation, consisting of an artificial base, with higher rocks above.

Rectory Tor
Rectory Tor

Rectory Tor
Rectory Tor

Past Yarningdale, I made for the narrow bridleway up to Mardon Down. As weather on Dartmoor goes it was as one would expect it to be; dark clouds appearing in seconds, heavy rain and a rainbow.

Cows by Shute Lane
Cows by Shute Lane

The colours are changing on Mardon Down
The colours are changing on Mardon Down

The colours are changing on Mardon Down
The colours are changing on Mardon Down

The colours are changing on Mardon Down
The colours are changing on Mardon Down

I had to negotiate some terrible bracken to get to the next tor; Mardon Down Rocks (south). It was worth the effort, however, a small tor with moss and a fine outcrop and view of Cosdon. The sun had started to re-appear.

Mardon Down Rocks (south)
Mardon Down Rocks (south)

Mardon Down Rocks (south)
Mardon Down Rocks (south)

Colour on Mardon Down Rocks (south)
Colour on Mardon Down Rocks (south)

Mardon Down Rocks (north) was no easier to get to; more bracken and ankle breakers getting in my path, forcing my way through. It is a much larger group of rocks, but less impressive.

Mardon Down Rocks (north)
Mardon Down Rocks (north)

Mardon Down Rocks (north) view
Mardon Down Rocks (north) view

Is this the Giant's Grave cairn/stone circle?
Mardon Down antiquities

The next section was deceptively long, taking the track off the down and taking the road towards Little Wooston. Turning westward, however, the road was choked by leaves, a sign that Autumn was here!

A Dartmoor country lane
A Dartmoor country lane

The gate, which is supposed to be the access point onto the access land to reach Pin Tor, was unfortunately locked, and still: I had this issue last year, back in October. It seems a shame to make such a wonderful tor, or a tor by any means or definition, private. I feel that it may have been Ken's book making the tor become busy and so Pinmoor Farm closed access after the publication.

I couldn't give up, not for the sensational rock basin up top. Heading along the lane to Willingstone, I noticed, on my right, a small stile. No sign that access was not permitted, I took it.

Access to Pin Tor upper outcrops is forbidden!
Access to Pin Tor upper outcrops is forbidden!

Pin Tor upper outcrops
Pin Tor upper outcrops

Pin Tor rock basin
Pin Tor rock basin

Pin Tor rock basin
Pin Tor rock basin

I made back for the stile, taking the track north to visit the absolutely exceptional outcrops of Pin Tor's lower section. I stopped for lunch, but it got quite chilly so I didn't stay long.

Pin Tor lower outcrops
Pin Tor lower outcrops

Pin Tor lower outcrops
Pin Tor lower outcrops

Pin Tor lower outcrops
Pin Tor lower outcrops

Willingstone Rock, or Willistone Rock, was next; however, I noticed, on my left, a small tor. I have walked this road plenty and never noticed it. It's amazing what the trees can hide. I decided, after visiting the Rock, that I would get closer.

Willingstone Rock
Willingstone Rock

Willingstone Rock
Willingstone Rock

Now it was time to visit what I have dubbed 'Butterdon Down Tor', at SX 7530 8867. On the northern side of Butterdon Down, in a plantation recently cleared, and extremely close to Willingstone Rock, is a sizeable tor. Despite its close proximity to the aforementioned rock, the outcrop is on the other side of the road and hardly related. It is quite impressive from both afar and close up.

I think it lies on Private Land.

'Butterdon Down Tor'
Butterdon Down Tor

'Butterdon Down Tor'
Butterdon Down Tor

'Butterdon Down Tor'
Butterdon Down Tor

Taking the track directly south to Moretonhampstead, there was little to note, other than a couple of Cows and a letterbox. From there, it was a fine stroll back into the town centre.

Cows and Bulls
Cows and Bulls

Lime Street Moretonhampstead Letterbox
Lime Street Moretonhampstead Letterbox