Thursday, 15 November 2018

Shaptor Wood - Part 1: Northcombe Copse from Slade Cross

Shaptor Rock
Shaptor Rock

This is a very special place; I have walked in Shaptor Wood more times than anywhere else in the whole of Dartmoor National Park, and there are many fabulous tors within it. So I have decided to include every single tor in 3 separate blog posts to allow me to show you, in detail, this boulder-strewn woodland. Before I start I must thank Tim Jenkinson who has found many of these excellent tors and helpfully documented them on his Flickr page. He is a true inspiration for this era of discovering long-lost rock piles and has motivated me to keep going. 

In addition, I must also thank Paul Buck with whom I have gained a real passion for this woodland, blogged HERE and HERE; inevitably, there will be more to come. From this, I have endeavoured to record my new findings, as well as those already documented by the tor bagging enthusiasts.

Slade Rock (Slade Farm)


Starting off at the crossroads at Slade Cross, and by taking the footpath behind the farm of the same name, there is a sizeable rock just out of reach on the left, hidden within trees in Summer. Whilst lacking aesthetics, it is still worthy of note I think, and so I have dubbed it 'Slade Rock' at SX 8000 8128.

Slade Rock
Slade Rock

Slade Rock
Slade Rock

Eastpark Copse

The path winds through the edge of the woodland, still with the A382 obvious on the right. When the path ends, turn right will take you up an ascending bridleway. The visitor will then find a way into the small copse where Gladstone Rock, at SX 8027 8125 can be found. Marked on OS maps, this outcrop is heavily vegetated and lies on Private Land, but is accessible from the bridleway to the west and no warning signs indicate that access is forbidden.

Gladstone Rock
Gladstone Rock

Gladstone Rock
Gladstone Rock

Shaptor Bottom Copse (Hawkmoor Wood)


Retracing and heading eastward, you will drop down beside a fence that backs onto the stunning gardens of Hawkmoor. The track splits; one goes right over the tumbling stream whereas the other heads steeply uphill on the left. Take the latter and you will face a fine small tor known as Hawkmoor Rocks at SX 8055 8093.

Hawkmoor Rocks
Hawkmoor Rocks

Hawkmoor Rocks
Hawkmoor Rocks

The pile continues uphill, cutting out the large bend in the track. Still part of Hawkmoor Rocks, this small overgrown pile can be found at SX 8049 8097.

Hawkmoor Rocks (upper)
Hawkmoor Rocks (upper)

The next tor was a big surprise for me, and even more so that it is marked as a massive outcrop on OS maps. Not far northward from Hawkmoor Rocks, above the track as it descends to the stream on its west bank, and easy to reach from above, Long Cleave Tor is a worthy contender to be crowned the best woodland tor on East Dartmoor, even rivalling Shap Tor across the valley.

Situated at SX 8057 8103, a massive wall of granite emerges from the steep valley side. From the summit, roughly at 207 metres above sea level, there is a wonderful view of Shaptor Wood extending towards Stonelands; the stream running below. Descending from the top is much easier where the 20ft granite wall, I called it ' The Great Wall' can be viewed, intimidating the onlooker.

The name 'Long Cleave' appears as a name for the vicinity on the Tithe Map for the Parish of Bovey Tracey, and so the appellation given seemed appropriate. It is surreal and is my best find to date.

Long Cleave Tor
Long Cleave Tor

Long Cleave Tor summit
Long Cleave Tor summit

Long Cleave Tor
Long Cleave Tor

Long Cleave Tor
Long Cleave Tor

Long Cleave Tor
Long Cleave Tor

Shaptor Down


After you've calmed down from admiring this tor, take the track to the south where an outlying pile can be seen. Turn right and then left over the stream to make for Shaptor Wood proper. Just before the stile, strike left over a low wall and uphill. The first of the many impressive piles of 'Shaptor Outliers' can be seen on the left, a curious logan stone at SX 8071 8087.

Other huge piles can be found at SX 8076 8085 and SX 8081 8090 on the western side of the main tor, marked on OS maps. All of the woodland described here is Open Access land.

Shaptor Outliers (lowest pile)
Shaptor Outliers (lowest pile)

Shaptor Outliers (middle section)
Shaptor Outliers (middle section)

Shaptor Outliers (upper)
Shaptor Outliers (upper)

Shaptor Outliers (upper)
Shaptor Outliers (upper)

On the right is the lower summit ledge of Shaptor Rock or, as I prefer, 'Shap Tor'. The summits are reasonably flat and fail to suggest an impressive rock face below at SX 8095 8082. The views, however, are amazing.

Shaptor Outliers (upper)
Shaptor Outliers (upper)

Shaptor Rock view
Shaptor Rock

Shaptor Rock view
Shaptor Rock

Shaptor Rock
Shaptor Rock

Shaptor Rock
Shaptor Rock

Northcombe Copse


Making your life easier, head east to the edge of the wood, and turn right at the field boundary to meet the path where the huge rock shown above can be appreciated. Further down, you come to a T-junction. Just opposite, slightly on the left, is a narrow opening in the wall to access Northcombe Copse. Contour the hill but you will probably have to ascend a little to your right to the flat summit rocks.

The summit of Northcombe Copse Tor (SX 8053 8061) is a flat one, but drop down to the south-west and you will find a more substantial granite tor, some bizarre shapes as well as an odd rock near the summit. Try not to drop too far down to the northern edge of the tor where there are many fenced mine shafts. They are signposted to warn of the danger.

Northcombe Copse Tor
Northcombe Copse Tor

Northcombe Copse Tor
Northcombe Copse Tor

Return to the T junction.

In the next instalment, we will explore the tors and rocks of Sonny Copse, Pixey Copse and Aller Down Copse, including the cliff face above Stonelands. More to come soon.