Friday, 17 August 2018

Dartmoor: The Tors and Rocks Around Blackaton Copse, and other places

Marigolds in the 'Square' in Chagford

A popular location for me to start and finish walks, I had never ventured off to the west of the small town. It had always been a slog up to Nattadon Common and Meldon Hill, or off to Fernworthy Forest for a longer walk. After realising the wealth of granite I had still not visited, that would change today and I would do a circular to Gidleigh.

Down Mill Street, I turned left before the bridge and made my way past Holystreet Manor to the first of the outcrops. Different to what I'm used to, this was a cliff built into the wall by the road. Although being wholly in the granite, it sure didn't appear to be that rock type!

Holystreet Manor Cliff Face

Holystreet Manor Cliff Face

Holystreet Manor Cliff Face

Further along the road, and to my right, lay Puggiestone. This is a massive looking mansion, with a huge grassy garden beside the River Teign, backed into a lush forest. I was trying to find the tor, which was lurking through the trees and my poor phone camera zoom will not do justice. One day, one day, I'd love to get up close.

Puggiestone

Puggiestone

Puggiestone

I progressed, coming to the splendid ruined tor named Leigh Bridge Rocks. Also on private land, but this one can be easily viewed from the road, and an unlocked gate for those who wish to get even closer like I did.

Leigh Bridge Rocks

Leigh Bridge Rocks

Leigh Bridge Rocks

I took the footpath away from Gidleigh Park to cross the North Teign River. Consulting the map, what I was to expect were not marked and so I blame the Ordnance Survey for not making this clear. But to be fair, there was little inclination of a footbridge either. Stepping Stones, my worst nightmare, through a fast-flowing river, and I would need to cross somehow. I could wade, but not in my new boots so I took into consideration all of the things that could go wrong.

I'm clumsy, and a few of the stones looked slippery. I loosened and untied my rucksack, as Ten Tors taught me. The chances of drowning with a tight rucksack were much higher than if undone, to escape if necessary. I hobbled my way across, trembling, slipping on one of them and it made me look back at my experience at Laughter Hole, where two people had to help me across, without a rucksack. However, this was my first time doing this alone.

I did make it across, but next time I'm wading. If I were to slip on the rocks and hit my head I would be in serious trouble; at least if this was done in the river it would just be a splash, given the lack of large rocks in it. Lesson learnt. The only thing worse than stiles.

Which way?


Teign stepping stones

Reflections

Reflections

The footpath surprisingly improved, as it turned into a bridleway towards Murchington and I felt the presence of rocks to my right. Back at home, I noticed a weave of paths through the wood to my right called the Milfordleigh Plantation and is well worth an investigation next time, and lies on a steep slope, in a national trust piece of access land.

At the crossroads, I headed left down to Highbury Bridge, again looking to my right into the woods near Blackaton Copse. Even on my map, there are rocks marked in there, and it's public land! It requires a full exploration.

And just up the hill, towards Gidleigh, the sprawling tor of Highbury Bridge Rocks. I just had to climb up to see more of the outcrops; glad I did, it's a very good tor, but private.

Moss on the walls

Highbury Bridge Rocks dissected by a wall

Highbury Bridge Rocks

Highbury Bridge Rocks

Higbury Bridge Rocks

Skirting Gidleigh, down a bridleway to the Mill, I spotted, on my right Gidleigh Mill Rocks. A ruined pile of rocks in a private enclosure but visible from the track. Please bear with my poor zoom. Mentioned by Tim Jenkinson.

Gidleigh Mill Rocks and idiots. The impenetrable barbed wire meant the plastic bag had to stay.

Gidleigh Mill Rocks

Passed the Mill, I came to the road to the northern edge of Blackaton Copse, now heading back to Chagford. I spotted granite by the road, on my right. A disappointing outcrop called Blackaton Bridge Rocks.

Blackaton Bridge Rocks

Blackaton Bridge Rocks

Blackaton Bridge Rocks

Unnamed granite in Blackaton Copse

I took multiple roads, to get to Murchington, where yet again Pigs were in the fields. But unlike the ones at Mary Tavy, this lot were noisy and signposts on the road even said: "Please drive slowly, Pigs playing!"

Pigs in Murchington 

Pigs in Murchington

Murchington

Murchington

Murchington is a nice village, set in a rural landscape, like most on Dartmoor. I can only dream of living here as I looked on, enviously at some of the thatched cottages. If I ever win the lottery ;-) I noticed a footpath sign to my right and decided to take it, to get off the road, as was originally planned, and miss out on some of the ascents otherwise.

It lead me down into a stunning woodland known as War Cleave Wood and over small stepping stones that I could handle. I noticed mossy granite outcrops on my left, that stretch up into the trees, so decided to name them War Cleave Rocks, though somewhat obscured. I will definitely revisit.

Public Footpath and Nattadon Common

Public Footpath

War Cleave Rocks (north) at SX 6896 8805

Happy with the find, although it's disappointing, I walked further south to find wonderful fungus growing precariously from a full-grown tree.

To my delight, more outcrops on my left appeared, even more impressive than the last, but too far away to be dismissed from the other group, so I split them into north and south. Both by the footpath.

The photos are blurred so I won't share them. The GR is SX 6910 8789.

It was then a simple walkover Chagford Bridge and up Mill Street into the square, curious by this outcrop protruding out from the wall. A great day exploring this side of Dartmoor.

Bench on Mill Street

GPO Marker complete with benchmark

Exposed granite

Exposed granite