Monday, 31 December 2018

Pepperdon Down and Wray Cleave

Wray Cleave Wood Tor
Wray Cleave Wood Tor

Ever since spotting, on old OS maps, a collection of large outcrops in the wood here, I have been wanting to check them out, even more so after looking at Paul Buck's pics along with Tim Jenkinson's on their visit to the area. What was revealed was and is truly magnificent.

Parking by a small verge on Pepperdon Down, we first went to the summit of the hill; a very diminutive granite outcrop, lowly in appearance. However, put that aside and it has a fine ruined rock basin.

Pepperdon Down
Pepperdon Down

Pepperdon Down rock basin
Pepperdon Down rock basin

Pepperdon Down
Pepperdon Down

We then headed in a southerly, coming to the sprawling outcrops of Pepperdon Rocks. Still lowly, but much more substantial. Before this, however, I made the most of my new camera and zoomed into Pepperdon Tor, or Pepperdon Rocks North, that lies on Private Land.

Pepperdon Rocks North
Pepperdon Tor

Pepperdon Rocks
Pepperdon Rocks

Rock basin, Pepperdon Rocks
Rock basin, Pepperdon Rocks

Pepperdon Rocks
Pepperdon Rocks

Descending further on the down, and beside some trees just above the lane, is Rose Cottage Lower Rock; a fine outcrop resembling a small cliff face.

Rose Cottage Lower Rock
Rose Cottage Lower Rock

Rose Cottage Lower Rock
Rose Cottage Lower Rock

Rose Cottage Lower Rock
Rose Cottage Lower Rock

Then, onto Rose Cottage Rocks, one outcrop topped by a bench.

Rose Cottage Rocks
Rose Cottage Rocks

Rose Cottage Rocks
Rose Cottage Rocks

Rose Cottage Rocks
Rose Cottage Rocks

We made for the lane heading away from Rose Cottage, and, on our right, we spotted two ramblers. Guess who they were? Paul Buck and Matthew King!

Back to the walk, a sharp left turn takes you southward to Lewdowns and an entrance to Wray Cleave Wood. Wray Cleave Wood Tor was first, the largest of the tors here, where I inevitably forgot to photograph Lewdowns Rocks. Clambering down the steep slope, you come across massive walls of granite and a stunning viewpoint out to Sanduck.

Wray Cleave Wood Tor upper
Wray Cleave Wood Tor upper

Wray Cleave Wood Tor
Wray Cleave Wood Tor

Wray Cleave Wood Tor
Wray Cleave Wood Tor

Wray Cleave Wood Tor
Wray Cleave Wood Tor

View from Wray Cleave Wood Tor
Wray Cleave Wood Tor

One of the things I love about woodland tors is that some of them boast views almost as good as those on the high moor. Being above the canopy and looking out after spending hours messing about the dense wood is rewarding and you're likely to have this lesser known tor to yourself.

We stopped just above the tor on a rock for a snack, bumping into Paul and Matthew again. It was nice to meet Matthew for the first time, he has his own website at Backpackartist. Not to leave Paul out, his website can be found HERE.

OS maps show several footpaths through this wood, which is rare as many obvious paths on Dartmoor aren't marked on modern maps. However, the paths in Wray Cleave Wood are some of the worst I've walked because they simply don't exist, or are very faint and indistinct. So we relied on my GPS.

The next tor was my favourite of the walk; Wray Cleave Middle Tor. A very beautiful outcrop, possessing chacrater and shape.

Wray Cleave Middle Tor
Wray Cleave Middle Tor

Wray Cleave Middle Tor
Wray Cleave Middle Tor

Wray Cleave Middle Tor
Wray Cleave Middle Tor

Then lastly, Wray Cleave South Tor, a modest tor.

Wray Cleave South Tor
Wray Cleave South Tor

Wray Cleave South Tor
Wray Cleave South Tor

Wray Cleave South Tor
Wray Cleave South Tor

It took some effort finding the stile to exit the woodland, but, when we reached it, we almost had a heart attack. As mentioned earlier, the paths in this area are poor and indistinct; this one, on the other hand, was obvious, but severely overgrown and not maintained, left for the bracken to swallow it up.

Luckily, Paul and Matthew had walking poles, helping us to bash through the elements. It was difficult both mentally and physically, especially for me as I had to not only climb a barbed wire fence, but also a gate. The motivation from the group got me through that traumatising experience.

Bracken bashing
Bracken bashing

Lesson learnt, exit the way you entered, from Lewdowns. I can also see an access point by Steward Wood, on Pepperdon Hall Lane. We haven't explored the woodland and paths there yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if there are more forgotten rockpiles to be found. I hear that the bluebells really thrive in Spring, so that'll probably be my first revisit, a distraction if nothing else is discovered.

I digress; the path is no longer gripped tightly by vegetation and it opens out into fields, where the uplands and valleys (cleaves) of East Dartmoor unfolded themselves.

It was a simple route then past Rose Cottage on its east side, back to the car. We said our goodbyes to Paul and Matthew, the former going to embark on a long trip to Australia for the Christmas holidays as I write this post.