Sunday, 1 July 2018

Dartmoor: Some Tors and Rocks on the Hameldown Ridge

Pony on King Tor

The Hameldown Ridge is a marvellous location, both for views and peace. It also offers much more, whether you like history, or, as in my case, Tor Bagging. This broad granite ridge has a lot to see and do.

Ascending the lane out of Widecombe

Getting off the bus in Widecombe in the Moor, I was faced with a short and arduous climb up a narrow dead-end lane, up onto the southern flank of Hamel Down. Shortly afterwards, I made for the upper outcrop of Langworthy Tor, before reaching the more impressive southern one. I was delighted to find a pair of ponies shading by the squat outcrop. 

They are technically separate tors, the northern upper part at SX 70674 77080, whilst the more prominent south part can be found at SX 70598 76844. So for this reason, and it rarely happens, I will split this tor into north and south.

Langworthy Tor north outcrop

Langworthy Tor north outcrop

Langworthy Tor south outcrop

Langworthy Tor south outcrop

Ponies shading beside Langworthy Tor

Ponies just below Kingshead Tor

I headed north, on the popular and well-trod Two Moors Way, where I discovered I had left my power bank at home. I had to use my phone as little as possible, to retain its charge for both safety reasons and so it records my route. Luckily, I had brought my iPad.

So, as I did, the next tor to be bagged was fairly obvious. Kingshead Tor lies just off the main track, and considering the lack of places to sit down and chill, this tor certainly was well-used by myself on this journey! 

Kingshead Tor

Kingshead Tor

Kingshead Tor

Kingshead Tor

I almost walked straight past Stoneslade Tor without knowing it, until I realised I was ascending too far and too close to Hameldown Beacon. Wary of Adders on this hot day, I made for the tor, that sits about 20 metres from the track.

From this direction, it lacks prominence, but from the west, it is quite commanding. I especially love the small rock on top for a sit-down and the small overhang that the sheep were using for shade.

Stoneslade Tor

Stoneslade Tor

Stoneslade Tor

Stoneslade Tor

Stoneslade Tor

Back on the Two Moors Way, I continued north, bearing off to visit Hameldown Beacon Rocks. This is a scattered tor, probably ruined. A couple outcrops are substantial but, to my shame, I missed the largest lower down the hill, and I prefer the cairn atop Hameldown Beacon, by the wall.

Hameldown Beacon Rocks

Hameldown Beacon Rocks

Hameldown Beacon Rocks


Wall over Hameldown Beacon Rocks

Hameldown Beacon

Wall leading downhill from Hameldown Beacon

Duke of Somerset 1854 on Hameldown Beacon

I had Two Burrows and Broad Burrow (the highest point on the ridge) in quick succession. Upon nearing the cairn and trig point at Hameldown Tor, back into known territory, I paid a revisit to Hameldown Cross. This is marked on the map as ''remains of'' - but it is still worth a visit and the views to the west are excellent!

It from here onwards where I switched back and forth from square to rectangle resolution!

Leaving Hameldown Beacon

Two Burrows

Broad Burrow - 532m

Hameldown Cross

At Hameldown Tor, I had lunch and absorbed the exceptional views afforded from this mighty eminence.

Approaching Hameldown Tor summit

Hameldown Tor trig point and cairn

Hameldown Tor outcrops
Descending Hameldown Tor

It was about 12 o'clock now and I still had many hours yet to go. I descended to Grimspound then ascended up steps to Hookney Tor. This isn't a bad tor, better than my last visit. I mean, it is way more substantial than my next bag; Shapley Tor!

Sheep near Grimspound

Grimspound south entrance, looking up to Hookney Tor

Stony track up to Hookney Tor

Hookney Tor

Hookney Tor

Hookney Tor

Hookney Tor

Hookney Tor
Hookney Tor

I headed in a northerly once again and through an old gateway to the extremely diminutive Shapley Tor! This tor is not great, apart from the views and hut circles around. It is ruined and straddles the summit of the hill. I do not like it.

Shapley Tor

Shapley Tor

Shapley Tor

Now is where it gets messy. I was trying to find the gate (if it exists) to Coombe Down Tor. I scrambled through bracken and gave up and climbed the wall instead. Coombe Down Tor from a distance looks low and disappointing; it's not.

First given credit by Tim Jenkinson, Coombe Down Tor forms a spur of granite that is dissected by a wall. Both sides are reachable though, through the succession of a nearby gate. I love the granite jointing here; much more obvious than its neighbours. I also believe there to be a rock basin on the summit that requires a climb - not for me today!

Broken part of the wall to reach Coombe Down Tor

Coombe Down Tor

Coombe Down Tor
Coombe Down Tor

Coombe Down Tor

It was then through a series of gates where I came to the southern gate and took paths to King Tor. King Tor was not as disappointing as I expected. Although the rocks are fairly insignificant, below King's Barrow, the views are very fine. Also the presence of ponies and their foals made for a welcoming visit!

King's Barrow - 488m

King Tor

King Tor

King Tor

King Tor

King Tor
King Tor

Now for the long trek back, getting temporarily misplaced for a little while, I passed Hameldown Cross and took the beautifully repaved bridleway back to Jay's Grave / Hound Tor (Manaton). I wasn't rushing, but had realised I had done 10 miles 2 hours quicker than anticipated! Only one thing for it, a hot dog at the Hound of the Basket Meals.

I also considered a trip to Hound Tor, as it was very close, maybe even Holwell Rocks. But it was really busy and my phone died on twelve percent. With no record, what would be the point? I lingered by the cairn circle for an hour before catching the bus back to Newton Abbot.

Hameldown Memorial

Hameldown Memorial

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