Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Dartmoor: Tors and Rocks Discovered in Castor Copse

Higher Castor

The following blog post is the combination of two consecutive weekends within East Dartmoor's Castor Copse, thus the photos used will be from both walks. I felt a wealth of granite on my solo visit so I thought I'd alert them to tor explorers Tim Jenkinson, and Paul Buck. The weekend after my first visit we went off exploring for ourselves more lesser known tors.

I must note that although accessible and listed as an open access woodland by the Dartmoor National Park Authority, upon leaving the copse we found a sign warning us that it is private, yet not noticed upon entrance. No harm was done whatsoever, but being private land it is a shame to dismiss a visit to these wonderful tors.

Down the permissive path through the wood, from Bullaton Farm, we came to the only previously discovered tor, Kelly Mine Tor, named by Tim Jenkinson. Its proximity to the neighbouring Kelly Mine and located near to a footpath makes it a strange omission from documents at SX 7967 8182.

Ruined building at Kelly Mine

Kelly Mine Tor (upper)

Kelly Mine Tor (upper)

Kelly Mine Tor (upper)
 
Kelly Mine Tor (upper)

We headed east, over a small stream, and onto a wide track, to ascend steeply to a small outcrop I have named Little Castor, at SX 7994 8174. It is a beautiful granite outcrop, protruding from the hillside that I believe is worthy of a name. It is a small, but charming loaf-like tor and has an atmosphere with the stream tumbling below.

Little Castor

Little Castor

Little Castor

Little Castor mossed top 

Above Little Castor

There are some interesting mine workings around this area; as we ascended further to reach the same track again, it has gone around a hairpin bend, veering off to some mossy granite, at SX 8005 8170. This is a large collection of loose rocks at the highest elevation in the copse, 240 metres, approximately. These are outliers of Higher Castor.

Track through Castor Copse

Higher Castor outcrops

Higher Castor outcrops

Higher Castor outcrops

Further on, the Jewel of the Copse, and why I wanted to visit here in the first place. Higher Castor (Jewel of the Copse) is easily viewed on Google Satellite imagery and has eluded me for months until I made my first visit. It really is something special and also possesses one of the best views from a lesser known tor! The only problem, it's on Private Land.

Higher Castor

Higher Castor

Higher Castor moss cladding

Higher Castor vertical rock

Tim atop Higher Castor

Higher Castor

Higher Castor from below

Higher Castor has a lot more than just views, though, as there are interesting outliers to be seen. It also reminds me of Shaptor Rock, the largest tor in Shaptor Wood, nearby. Although smaller, Higher Castor still impresses in its character and stature. I have included "Jewel of the Copse" as an additional name to emphasise this gem. Such a pity it lies on Private Land, as I keep saying.

Under a barbed wire fence, that cuts our next tor, we could easily view Lower Castor, an apt name I have given to this small tor. It is very close to Higher Castor itself, but separate. It is best viewed from below, where you can appreciate the scale of this outcrop more.

Lower Castor

Lower Castor

Lower Castor

Lower Castor

We left Castor Copse and into Warmpit Copse. Yes, Warmpit Copse, over some gentle ground, soon to be Bluebell heaven! My first visit here revealed a small pile of rocks but what we were soon to discover was perhaps the second-best tor of the day; Great Warmpit Copse Tor. 


Great Warmpit Copse Tor

Great Warmpit Copse Tor

Great Warmpit Copse Tor

Great Warmpit Copse Tor

Beside a manmade pond, at the stream, this tor is a giant. Huge granite stacks tumble down the hillside that surely deserves ''great'' in the name, thus I named it just that.

Great Warmpit Copse Tor

Great Warmpit Copse Tor

Great Warmpit Copse Tor (part of), showing the stream

We recrossed the stream towards Kelly Mine where we began to notice large outcrops to our right (SX 7969 8177). I'd been twice before, once on purpose, without realising that these were near Kelly Mine Tor above. So, for bagging purposes, we labelled this the "lower" section.

Kelly Mine Tor (lower)

Kelly Mine Tor (lower)

Tim Jenkinson has nicknamed the lower rockpile ''alien head'' due to the lowest stack's appearance looking like one. It is a marvellous tor.

Kelly Mine Tor (lower) alien head

Kelly Mine Tor (lower)

So that's my tour of Castor Copse and surrounding woodland. Many great tors, but please remember this is all on Private Land! Kelly Mine Tor (upper) is the only one that is easy to reach without straying from the path too far.

But additionally, on my first visit, I bagged another private tor: Bullaton Rock. However, because it was visited at the same time it must be included here as an extra. Now, whilst it is supposed to be on Private Land, unlocked gates, a good track (albeit muddy in places) and a lack of 'keep out' signs meant it was easy to find.

Permissive path to Bullaton Rock

Bullaton Rock centre left

In the field where the tor is situated, you have the option to go into the woodland and explore its mossy outcrops, or, if you want to take it easy and enjoy the views, walk straight up to the summit from the back (field side).

I chose to see it in the wood first, then thought it would be an adventure to ascend from the woodland side up a slippery rock face - don't do this! Exit the way you came in through the unlocked gate.

Unlocked gate into Bullaton Rock woodland

Bullaton Rock

Bullaton Rock

Bullaton Rock Avenue

Bullaton Rock - the way I chose to ascend!

Once I had scrambled up the hard way, sliding down the rock, I sat down and enjoyed the stunning views of Lustleigh and across to Black Hill, Hound Tor and Chinkwell Tor whilst having lunch.

Bullaton Rock Rucksack

Bullaton Rock lovin' life

There's only one way out, the way you came in assuming you used the 'permissive path'. A great end to a rewarding couple of Saturday's exploring more of East Dartmoor's 'hidden' landscape.

No comments:

Post a Comment