Sunday, 29 July 2018

Dartmoor: The Tors and Rocks North-East of Peter Tavy

Small rock basins on Bagga Tor

Back to Smeardon Down, I was meeting up with Paul Buck and Tim Jenkinson to visit one new tor, a rediscovered tor, a possible contender for Brousentor and taking in the tors along the River Tavy. Tim and I met Paul at the quarry car park at Smeardon Down where we headed west down the road and through the quaint village of Peter Tavy.

Paul showed us the way through a gate to clamber up the stunning Longtimber Tor, also known as the Mary Tavy Rock.

Longtimber Tor

Tim on Longtimber Tor

Longtimber Tor

Longtimber Tor

Photos fail to do this tor justice, for its 20+ foot stack of dolerite is gripped by trees and vegetation, but you can glimpse the rocks from certain angles. The River Tavy here has carved a deep pool perfect for swimming and a lovely grassy plain for a picnic. 

The weather forecast said it was going to rain hard in the Afternoon; we got some of this whilst walking towards Mary Tavy. Once it subsided, we crossed the Tavy, 1 of 4 times today, and looked for a way to access High Tor. Deciding it was too unsafe to proceed through the gate, we diverted to the grave yard in Mary Tavy to pay our respects for the legendary William Crossing. He is well known in the Dartmoor literature and has provided invaluable information on Dartmoor.

Sheltering from the rain whilst bikers pass

Mary Tavy Church

William Crossing's Headstone

We left the graveyard, where this walk turned into a slog. Every field seemed to have a stile, but not your typical wooden stile, no - instead we were climbing up vertical ladders up slippery walls. For someone who fails at the simple stiles and the additional height, this was a painful, time-consuming task. I do thank Tim and Paul for putting up with my constant whining, although they took it as a joke, and inspired me to create a stiles album in Flickr.

En route, and marked on the map, we passed a chimney stack. 

Chimney stack

3 stiles later, the field entered a farm state where various animals were being kept in enclosures such as Pigs. It was weird to see.

Pigs

Pigs

Stile hopping - pic by Tim Jenkinson

5 stiles later we exited the field system, along a good track where the delightful Brimhill Tor resided. This one lies on Private Land but we didn't see any signs to warn us upon entry to the woodland. At first sight, it is disappointing, a lowly pile much obscured by the vegetation. We explored it, where Paul and I investigated the summit outcrops, Tim rounded the lower section.

Brimhill Tor

Brimhill Tor

Brimhill Tor

Brimhill Tor

Back onto the road, through Horndon, Paul showed us the way to the Master Rock, an outcrop mentioned by William Crossing but not well known at all in modern times. Strange, because it is an obvious outcrop that would be a challenge to scale and has a lovely vantage point.

Fingerpost and cross socket stone in Horndon

The Master Rock and Tim taking notes. Great Staple Tor top left.

The Master Rock

The Master Rock

The Master Rock

Through Willsworthy, on the road, we made for the bridge back over the Tavy, avoiding the stepping stones, to enter Coffin Wood. Mike Kitchener had documented an outcrop where he had suggested it was the real Brousentor. We don't think it is so we feel that the ''Coffin Wood Tor'' is apt. Many thanks to Mike for bringing it to our attention.

If you walk these slopes, be warned it's very steep and beautifully mossy, slippery by the River Tavy.

Standon Steps

Coffin Wood Tor

Coffin Wood Tor

We left the woods, through a field, to meet the track that leads to Standon Farm. Brousentor, the generally accepted location near Baggator Farm, lies in a field below Bagga Tor on Private Land. It is easy to bag with a quick stroll across to it. The views from this small granite tor are amazing.

Brousentor view of Standon Hill

Brousentor view of Gibbet Hill

My favourite of the day, Bagga Tor, required a short, steep ascent. This tor lies so close to the edge of the granite that in most of the outcrops' irregular jointing was noticeable. It is supposed to be on Private Land but is so easy to get to from the car park below, usually a starting point for Fur Tor, past Lynch Tor.

Bagga Tor view of Lynch Tor and Limsboro' Cairn

Bagga Tor and Paul's walking poles. The incised cross is obvious.

Bagga Tor

Bagga Tor one of two tiny rock basins

Bagga Tor geology

A mixture of road walking and field tracks (with more stiles!) took us to Hill Bridge, back over the Tavy where we followed the Mill Leat to view ''Disintegrated Tor''. This is a Private Tor on the other bank of the leat and is mentioned by Eric Hemery. I think that a better name for it would be Creason Wood Tor, for the purposes of tor bagging, in the Woodland Trust's Creason Wood and at this point we are back off granite.

Hill Bridge

Creason Wood Tor (part of) before entering the actual wood

Creason Wood Tor 

Creason Wood Tor

Creason Wood Tor above the leat

Shortly after, ''Big Rock'' loomed in the trees.

Crossing over a clapper bridge enables the visitor to get the best close up view of this magnificent non-granite tor. Yet only portions can be viewed from afar, photos will again fail to provide a sense of scale.

Big Rock

Big Rock

Big Rock

Big Rock

The rain became heavier now, for I didn't want to mention it. This made for steady progress down a rocky track. Every step could've led to me hitting hard on the ground. No thank you! Through a small settlement, we were at Smith Hill Tor, found by Paul Buck. A fine tor that captures light and a perfect place to sit down.

Smith Hill Tor

Smith Hill Tor

Smith Hill Tor moss

Negotiating some Cattle, we quickly bagged Boulters Tor, a fine non-granite tor.

Boulters Tor eastern outlier

Boulters Tor

Boulters Tor

Boulters Tor

Its little but striking neighbour is metres away so we also paid a visit.

Little Boulters Tor

Little Boulters Tor. It's clouding over.

And last but not least, Furze Tor, just beside the track back to the quarry car park.

Furze Tor

Furze Tor

A great day, with ups and downs for me. I tend to call myself a fair weather hiker, but on Dartmoor anything can happen, so I must be prepared and just get over it. That's one thing Ten Tors taught me and to get to like it, don't know if I'll go that far. Many thanks to Paul and Tim for your great company!

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