Thursday, 28 June 2018

Dartmoor: The Lesser-Known Tors in Higher Knowle Wood

Knowle Rocks

Higher Knowle Wood, near Lustleigh, is a very special woodland, managed by the Woodland Trust and so is publicly accessible. A maze of large footpaths cut through the woodland, the main one passing at the top. What interested Paul Buck, Tim Jenkinson and myself on our visit, the hidden tors and rocks within.

We came in from the north on the footpath to Hatherleigh, where we spotted, on our right, a small outcrop. On closer inspection, this revealed to be the old May Queen Stone for Lustleigh (the new one is located in The Orchard in the village centre). It lies on private land so we had to bear with reading the inscription from the gate, just before entering the public woodland.

It appears that this feature is part of a much bigger tor behind known as 'Long Tor'. I did not know this at the time.

Old May Rock

Old May Rock - pic by Paul Buck

Tim led the way ahead as we entered Higher Knowle Wood, immediately veering off left into Loxter Copse, where the chaotic tor named Lox Tor (or Loxter) by Richard Horsham would be found. It is not granite in composition, and being sedimentary means it has sharp edges and the ground is weak in places, so be careful walking here.

Loxter Tor

Loxter Tor

Loxter Tor

Loxter Tor

Tim then led us to a grand collection of rocks, also found by Richard Horsham. They were dubbed Knowle Rocks, being located in the heart of Higher Knowle Wood. Some very interesting shapes to the rocks in this section.

Knowle Rocks higher

Knowle Rocks higher

Knowle Rocks higher

Knowle Rocks higher

The rocks extend further down the hill, this part being 'The Giant Tor' of the collection; much more extensive than we thought at first.

Knowle Rocks lower

Knowle Rocks lower

The road was a short way below us and we followed that to an outcrop Tim has mentioned, like the rest of the tors from now on in this post. This was called Stondtorre, after the house of the same name. It appears to be a small, ruined tor set in private land and only visible through the trees and fence.

Stondtorre

Stondtorre zoom - pic by Paul Buck

At Knowle, we took the footpath signed Hatherleigh where, to our right, we came to another impressive tor: Higher Knowle Wood South. Although shrouded in vegetation, this small tor incorporates a high pile of granite amid smaller rock piles to the south, back in Higher Knowle Wood. I do apologise for the poor pics on this one; I was too busy perfecting my tor sitting techniques once again, including a drink of cold water!

Higher Knowle Wood South

Higher Knowle Wood South

Higher Knowle Wood South

Back into the heart of the woodland, three large outcrops of rock near the main footpath, that were dubbed Higher Knowle Wood North. Unfortunately, the sunlight prevented any good shots of this one.

Higher Knowle Wood North

Higher Knowle Wood North

Exiting the woodland, Tim showed us what he has named Hatherleigh Tor, split in two by a field track. Deep within private woodland, one can only glimpse what I reckon is a significant tor in there. I'd love to see it up close one day, not far from Slade Cross.

Hatherleigh Tor

Slade Acre