Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Tors out of Nodden Gate

Chat Tor (Clatter Tor)
Chat Tor

After a short break from blogging I am now, hopefully, back into the swing of things because taking a break could lead to forgetting the walks I had done prior which means no bag! This time we started at the Fox and Hounds, crossed the Lyd and started the ascent up onto Arms Tor. I tried to do it (the climb) in one go: I nearly succeeded but let's just say that I was being thoughtful!

I was happy to be revisiting Arms Tor, a large tor with several outcrops, my favourite feature being the excellent rock basin on the summit. The art of tor sitting was becoming even more apparent on such a lovely day. Why rush?

Arms Tor
Arms Tor

Arms Tor
Arms Tor

Arms Tor
Arms Tor

Arms Tor rock basin
Arms Tor rock basin

Arms Tor
Arms Tor

Arms Tor
Arms Tor

Arms Tor
Arms Tor

We took the contouring hillside to the next tor, and another great revisit for me. Brai Tor (marked 'Brat Tor') is another fine tor, with the wonderful Widgery Cross atop the summit.

Brai Tor (Brat Tor)
Brat Tor

Brai Tor (Brat Tor)
Brat Tor

Brai Tor (Brat Tor)
Brat Tor

Brai Tor (Brat Tor)
Brat Tor

Brai Tor (Brat Tor)
Brat Tor (Brat Tor)

The next bag would be interesting and, even in full visibility, Chat Tor could not be seen. From previous knowledge and photographs from books, we were weren't expecting much, but upon arrival to this tor I warmed to it immediately. Despite the Doe Tor Brook being an easy crossing, the ground up to Rattlebrook Hill was boggy, clumpy and one member of the family almost lost a leg!

The tor itself is fantastic in my opinion; clean, neat and tidy with superb views and location, albeit rather boggy even after a dry spell. The small tor atop Rattlebrook Hill resembles an oversized manure dropping but its horizontal jointing is well worth a visit, especially for geologists!

Chat Tor (Clatter Tor)
Chat Tor

Chat Tor (Clatter Tor)
Chat Tor

Chat Tor (Clatter Tor)
Chat Tor

Chat Tor (Clatter Tor)
Chat Tor

Sharp Tor (Lydford) was obvious ahead, and impressive looking. But the path could not be seen, so we made a beeline of sorts. Looking back at my GPS tracker, we were on the path for a while, but then inexplicably veered off it. However, great visibility meant that the views would always make up for the terrain.

Sharp Tor is humongous, with a massive amount of clitter on its west side with an impressive drop overlooking Doe Tor. Splendid geology here, unusual given that it is some distance from the edge of the granite. It reminds me of Bagga Tor.

Sharp Tor (Lydford)
Sharp Tor (Lydford)

Sharp Tor (Lydford) excellent geology
Sharp Tor (Lydford) excellent geology

Sharp Tor (Lydford)
Sharp Tor (Lydford)

Sharp Tor (Lydford)
Sharp Tor (Lydford)

Sharp Tor (Lydford)
Sharp Tor (Lydford)

Sharp Tor (Lydford) grumpy face on the right
Sharp Tor (Lydford)

Finding a way down proved a challenge, with the aforementioned clitter and steep drop we opted for a descent near the impressive Hare Tor, its cone outcrops forming a volcano-like mountain of granite. It was still a bit messy but grateful to have chosen the clockwise route, a last-minute decision.

Doe Tor looked modest from here, but on arrival, it is a beauty to behold. Passing a War Department Boundary Stone, its geology became clear; I was trying to find the rock basin, not realising that it was on the westernmost outcrop, whereas we were on the easternmost outcrop of the main 3.

Upon reaching the rock basin, I felt obliged to fill it up with water. Some may disagree with that decision but I feel that it added a lot of contrast to the scene and, being filled with water on other visits, felt no harm in giving it a refill!

War Department Boundary Stone
War Department Boundary Stone

Doe Tor
Doe Tor

Doe Tor
Doe Tor

Doe Tor
Doe Tor

Doe Tor
Doe Tor

Doe Tor rock basin
Doe Tor rock basin

Getting down from this tor was actually really hard with clitter in every direction. It was quite scary to think that on a misty day you could spend hours clambering through this torture, with no way out. We aimed for what I was expecting to be a gate by some tress; no, it had to be a bloody stile!

Black Rock was next, but we (I) had missed the turn off left for the ford, which is right after crossing the bridge over Doe Tor Brook. This resulted in a fun hopping from rock to rock over the River Lyd to get up to the tor. Not penalising non-granite tors, I really didn't like Black Rock. It's quite ugly to me, its dark outcrops dominating the river here which has some deep spots worth coming back to in summer at least, including Black Rock Falls.

Strange formation at Black Rock
Strange formation on Black Rock

Black Rock
Black Rock

Black Rock
Black Rock

Black Rock plaque
Black Rock

Black Rock
Black Rock

We followed the right bank of the river to High Down Ford, where we crossed another stile and veered off right in search of 'Vale Down Rocks' some metamorphic outcrops first mentioned by Peter Freeman. This is on Private Land, apparently, although there are no signs that I could see, and the footpath is not clearly marked as going in any particular direction.

Vale Down Rocks
Vale Down Rocks

Vale Down Rocks
Vale Down Rocks

Vale Down Rocks
Vale Down Rocks

Vale Down Rocks
Vale Down Rocks

It was then to Nodden Gate and a simple stroll back to the pub for a late lunch. It was a great day and the weather was kind. What much more could a Dartmoor walker ask for?