Monday, 14 May 2018

The Tors and Rocks out of Belstone

Belstone Tor

I have always wanted to visit Belstone Common, and bag every tor here, but location and lack of time has never worked in my favour. Upon having a full day with full sunshine free, I did exactly that!

Most people would just rely on their sat navs, which would take them to the Belstone Car Park some way from the moor. Me, though, having some local knowledge of the area, decided it would be so much easier to park further south, at grid reference SX 61644 93325. This turned out to be a good idea.

The first incline of the day hit us, and that was to the summit of Watchet Hill. A flagpole marks the summit and there are already great views of the Mid Devon countryside in front of you.

Watchet Hill

From here it was another ascent, now onto Dartmoor Granite, up to Tors End. This is a great collection of boulders and outcrops at the northern edge of the ridge. My brother, Sam also found a neat little letterbox, hidden among the rocks.

North Moor from Tors End

Tors End view of Belstone Common Tor (left) and Belstone Tor (right)

Tors End

Tors End

Tors End

Struggling through a large clitter field, we arrived at Belstone Common Tor, an appropriate name to distinguish this separate outcrop from the summit of the ridge. It can be found at SX 6160 9237.

The tor's structure and appearance is akin to that of Sharpitor (Walkhampton Common), being a massive jumble of loose slabs and rocks partly obscured by its own clitter. It is most impressive when viewed from the south, where its proud cone stands high above the ridge.

Belstone Common Tor

Belstone Common Tor view of Taw Marsh

Leaving Belstone Common Tor behind, with Tors End on the left.

Southward is the summit of Belstone Tor and, south of the Irishman's Wall, two logan stones and a spectacular rock face appear. I was pretty darn impressed. The tors are huge, and by looking at the clitter (ankle killers), one has to think of what the tors would've looked like before weathering broke them all down.

Belstone Tor

Belstone Tor

Belstone Tor logan stone

Belstone Tor logan stones

Belstone Tor

Higher Tor was only a short stroll away and also impressed. Its horizontal and vertical jointing in the granite creates a vertical wall with excellent views of Taw Marsh and the surrounding area.

Higher Tor

Higher Tor

Higher Tor

Higher Tor

Next stop, the aptly named Lower Tor, or Russ Tor as is recorded. This is a fine tor, and worthy of recognition. I'll leave it at that!

Lower Tor

Lower Tor

We struck west to a tor that I was excited for; Winter Tor. It turned out to be the complete opposite to what I was expecting and perhaps the worst tor of the day! It lacks stature and shape and all it is really is a collection of ruined boulders on the side of the hill. Higher Tor should be called Winter Tor - it sounds better! At least it has those views.

Winter Tor

Winter Tor

Winter Tor

Winter Tor

Leaving Winter Tor behind, with the military road on the left.

We easily found the track south to Oke Tor, veering off slightly to bag Knattaborough Tor. This is low yet pleasant tor named courtesy of Eric Hemery. Why it is named as such I don't know (Knatta Barrow maybe) but the name is growing on me!

Knattaborough Tor

Knattaborough Tor

Knattaborough Tor

An easy and level path took us to the epic Oke Tor - my favourite of the day. It is bulky, has wonderful views, is quite bleak, and possesses some fantastic horizontal jointing. I absolutely adore this tor and would definitely recommend you visit.

However, if you approach from this direction you should pass some substantial outcrops which are not a part of Oke or Knattaborough Tors; therefore, for tor bagging purposes, perhaps it should be called Little Oke Tor?

Oke Tor northern rocks SX 6114 9036

Oke Tor northern rocks SX 6114 9036

Oke Tor

Oke Tor arch

Oke Tor

Oke Tor

Oke Tor

We took a good track west down the hill to cross the East Okement River on a bridge before ascending up to the beast of East Mill Tor. One thing in our way though, Cows! One approached us and me, being a complete wimp, dived into the bog!

East Mill Tor is a bugger of a climb from this angle. But at last, we had come to the flattish summit. I first visited the southern outcrops. Pleasing enough but because they are all grouped together with the northern outcrops it makes this large bag rather demoralising. Just give yourself a big pat on the back for going that extra mile to visit all the outcrops.

East Mill Tor south

East Mill Tor south

East Mill Tor summit OP station

Millie on East Mill Tor

Approaching East Mill Tor north

East Mill Tor north

East Mill Tor north

I was left disappointed, not by the views - they were awesome, but by the summit. After a long, steep climb and you're treated to a poor mound, half manmade. It didn't interest me whatsoever and my high hopes had decreased dramatically.

But I suppose it is something to note that lower outcrops definitely are worth exploring, as they can be better, and this is the case here.

Negative things aside, the northern outcrops were something else. Quite bulky and well-formed lower down. I lingered here for a while to admire the views ahead of Rowtor and Harter Hill.

Taking the track directly for Hart Tor (Okehampton Common), we came across a nice southern outcrop and then onto the main outcrop beside the military road.

Hart Tor south

Hart Tor

Hart Tor

Hart Tor

Hart Tor

Taking the road for a bit then a track beside the river to Cullever Steps, we took for Scarey Tor. Disclaimer, it's not scary at all. Funny still and it has a good view of the valley up north while I eye up Ashbury Tor. Then, a simple stroll back into Belstone to end the day's tor bagging expedition.

Ford at Cullever Steps

Scarey Tor

Scarey Tor

Scarey Tor

Spring

Non-Granite Geology in Belstone