Monday, 11 June 2018

Dartmoor: Bonehill Down and clearing up some stragglers on Haytor Down (Part 1)

Chinkwell Tor

The Haytor Area has always been one of my top visited areas, yet I must feel ashamed on some of today's tors I have never visited before, as they were great. It was also great to revisit and explore, taking in more new tors along the route.

I started off at Bonehill Rocks, the first trip on the handy Haytor Hoppa this year.

Bonehill Rocks

Bonehill Rocks

Bonehill Rocks
Bonehill Rocks

After this, my the first ascent up to the large mass of Bell Tor. I absolutely adore this tor: its views, tor granite, and interests never fail to disappoint!

Bell Tor south approach

Bell Tor

Bell Tor
Bell Tor

Then, the double summit of Chinkwell Tor with a strange rock pillar, similar to that of Higher Castor - I liked it. The obvious route from here was onto the marvellous summit cairns, where the tor bagger will likely have a snack and chill out; I didn't, I had tors to bag.

Chinkwell Tor south

Chinkwell Tor

Chinkwell Tor
Chinkwell Tor

Unlike my usual routes in this area, I did what was right and that was to make a short excursion to the wonderfully named Honeybag Tor. I'll admit: I have been too harsh with this one on previous visits. There is a bunch to see, with good views and large tor stacks.

Honeybag Tor

Honeybag Tor

Honeybag Tor

Honeybag Tor

I almost retraced my route, in search of Saddle Clove Rock, where I was heading next. Mentioned by Tim Jenkinson, the rock reads, and I quote: ''Inscribed with DS/1854/ (Duke of Somerset) Dave Brewer describes this as the Clove Stone or Saddle Clove Rock. It can be found on the lower north-east slopes of Chinkwell Tor."

The first rock I came to was wrong, so I checked my grid reference and I was out a tad, so headed to the correct one, at SX 7313 7834. It is an intriguing formation with a hollowed rock and a rounded one side by side.

Mistaken for Saddle Clove Rock

Saddle Clove Rock

Saddle Clove Rock

Saddle Clove Rock

I headed south-west, to a farm gate where loads of ponies and foals greeted me, confidently. Extremely friendly, they let me take some (blurred!) photographs! I have to be wary when I am close to a mother and foal, as to not be trampled alive, but luckily I was in the safe zone and I love these common encounters.

Here is where I came across a problem, serious for me. I just strolled through the field, past some Sheep, minding my own business. But I must've startled some and it appeared that two had squeezed through a largish hole in the barbed wire fence, near a locked gate. I tried to ignore the scene, as to not interfere with these sensitive animals. But, it was becoming stressed and for my life could I leave it to suffer.

Knowing as little about Sheep I climbed the fence and prayed for it to approach, reluctantly, for me to gently take it over into the field. Sheep don't like being handled. Me, being the person I am, tried several solutions, using teeth to open the gate (should've brought scissors), but the Sheep ran around like crazy and it was then that I realised this wasn't to be a job for me. Thankfully, though, Moorland Walker had helpfully pointed out these useful tips in case of such a scenario in this blog post: Hurston Castle Tor

So, being stressed myself, I was on the phone with Karla at the Dartmoor Livestock Protection trying to explain the situation. The Sheep at this point was almost self-harming as I looked for any id, but only a 56 could be seen, so I gave her my grid reference and hoped for the best after all of this hassle. Just goes to show, you never know when this stuff happens!

Back to the walk, regrettably leaving the Sheep alone, I arrived at the many piles of ''Rubble Tor'' - a few fake granite piles in the field. Their purpose, I don't know; but they are not a natural phenomenon.

Rubble Tor on Hedge Down

Rubble Tor on Hedge Down

Rubble Tor on Hedge Down

Then, across the lane to Swallerton Gate, a quick wander up Holwell Lawn to Holwell Lawn Rock.

Holwell Lawn Rock

Holwell Lawn Rock

Holwell Lawn Rock

Holwell Lawn Rock is a small granite outcrop photographed by Tim Jenkinson but the location is gorgeous, even though I had missed the Bluebells. I slightly ascended, to Hound Tor Down Outcrop, named also courtesy of Tim Jenkinson.

This is not Holwell Rocks this is another tor incorrectly marked in Ken Ringwood's book. Holwell Rocks are not here, at SX 74449 78417, but instead can be found at  SX 73911 77696, some distance to the south-west. I liked this one. Diminutive from the path, but it has a good drop from the mini summit.

Hound Tor Down Outcrop

Hound Tor Down Outcrop

Hound Tor Down Outcrop

A mixture of animal tracks and bee-lining past Greator Rocks had me on a ''good track'' to Becka Brook. The clapper bridge down there is lovely but firstly, I was distracted by Lower Greator Rocks, found by Tim.

The former tor was busy with climbers so I'm afraid to say I didn't spend a lot of time there.

Greator Rocks from below

Lower Greator Rocks

Steep climb ahead

Cobbled path

I took multiple footpaths, taking the lower one to the lower levels of my favourite of the day; Lower Leighon Tor. It is really sporadic. The moss-covered boulders have lots to explore and clambering up you come across a ''Cuckoo Rock'' style boulder, among others of interest and the summit rocks have a lovely view. It really should make the maps.

Well done to Tim Jenkinson for spotting this one. 

Lower Leighon Tor

Lower Leighon Tor

Lower Leighon Tor
Lower Leighon Tor


Lower Leighon Tor pyramid rock

Conveniently, the upper levels are by a very good footpath. I crossed over it and began ascending Black Hill, with the enticing Leighon Tor on my right. There are a couple of smallish cairns at the summit area, but I ignored the north summit as I have been before. But that will be featured in Part 2.