Monday, 18 February 2019

Dartmoor: Easton Cross to Moretonhampstead

Great Parford Tor (lower)

This walk was a last-minute decision really. It is, at the time of writing, half-term and I really wanted to get out immediately. Add on the fact that just the day before I had completed two practical Drama exams for my GCSEs, I wanted to reward myself. 

For a change, I didn't start at Slade Cross, Moretonhampstead, or Chagford this time. Instead, I got off the bus at Easton Cross, a small crossroads near Chagford and Castle Drogo. I initially wanted to firstly bag Whiddon Park House Tor, and I could see the track leading through the field. However, a farmer was feeding breakfast to some Cows.

Not wanting to interrupt, I made a short detour via the entrance to Whiddon Park and back to the house of the same name, getting the odd view of Castle Drogo. 

A bridleway leads to Dogmarsh which I took, and when I noticed the copse on my left I went in search of the tor. It is not too difficult to find, and the lower portions can be seen from the path below. Its Grid Ref: SX 7182 8928.

Whiddon Park House Tor

Whiddon Park House Tor

Whiddon Park House Tor

Whiddon Park House Tor

I retraced my steps back to the house, and over the bridge which I didn't mention before. Now, I began ascending the steep, bouldery slopes of Whiddon Park. The lower outcrops of the scattered tor started to appear, some impressive.

Whiddon Park Tor lower rocks

Whiddon Park Tor lower rocks

I went in search for "The Egg Rock", a conspicuous rock completely different from the rest. This magnificent boulder was dubbed as such by Tim Jenkinson, and the crack formed between the rock boasts some fabulous xenoliths.

The Rock sits just below the summit rocks of the tor, at SX 7231 8950 (give some leeway since this is woodland and some grid refs may be out slightly).

The Egg Rock at Whiddon Park Tor

Whiddon Park Tor

Whiddon Park Tor xenolith

Then, just above, the summit rocks of the tor.

Whiddon Park Tor summit rocks

Nearby, as I progressed upwards in search of my next tor, I bumped into a rambler at what seems to be known as the passage sculptures; two large pieces of granite, split in half, sited either side of an opening in a wall. "Who, or what put them there is unknown." he went on; "Nevertheless, it is an interesting piece of architecture".

Passage Sculpture in Whiddon Deer Park

Ahead of me, I could see the impressive hill at the top of the Deer Park, with Whiddon Wood Tor atop it. Despite its lower rocks and outcrops being accessible, the best part of this stupendous tor hides, tantalisingly, over the other side of a massive wall on Private Land. 

There are portions that are climbable, but since I was alone, decided against it and had to somehow satisfy myself with the bag from its public side. (SX 7268 8944)

Whiddon Wood Tor ahead

Outcrop below Whiddon Wood Tor

Whiddon Wood Tor public part

Whiddon Wood Tor public part

Whiddon Wood Tor public part

The wall beside Whiddon Wood Tor

Whiddon Wood Tor

Sharp Tor (Castle Drogo)

I was at the top of the Deer Park and had to find a way to descend. Knowing the whole area south of the great wall is Open Access Land, I had a bit of choice of a route. Noting a few outcrops on the south edge of the wood, I took the meandering track past the hut at SX 7260 8915.

Deer Culling Hut

Just beyond this, I came across a new tor, at SX 7260 8906. It consists of multiple slabs of granite with large boulders below. The name of Great Parford Tor seems appropriate.

Great Parford Tor (upper)

Great Parford Tor (upper)

Great Parford Tor (upper)

I felt an inclination to venture the lower levels and what I discovered was mind-blowing. At SX 7250 8901 you will find a massive set of imposing crags, on the steep valley side. When seen from below the vegetation partly hides the crags, but ascend beside them on rough tracks to reach the top and you will be rewarded by good views of Meldon Hill through the treeline.

You may also notice, when standing atop this tor, two rock basins, both very close to each other. One of them appears to have tilted, creating a wide opening on its lower side. The other one is situated below another boulder, perched in such a manner as to resemble some poised rock. Clamber around this tor, but be careful in that the ground can be quite uneven and loose at times.

It was here where I separated them into "upper" and "lower" sections to ensure the visitor visits both outcrops thoroughly.

Great Parford Tor (lower) channelled rock basin

Great Parford Tor (lower) summit rock basin

Great Parford Tor (lower)

Great Parford Tor (lower)

Great Parford Tor (lower)

Great Parford Tor (lower)

Great Parford Tor (lower)

Great Parford Tor (lower)

Right, time to reluctantly leave granite heaven and get on with the walk proper, as I had already wasted too much time. However, it was at this moment where my mum rang to tell me that I could be picked up at quarter to four; giving me an extra hour and three quarters. Looking back, I easily could've got back to Moreton by two o'clock, but nevermind!

I headed up the minor road to Uppacott and Parford Brake, taking in another new outcrop (there are quite a few in this post). It is a small tor situated at Parford Brake, the main outcrops straddling the Public Footpath which leaves the minor lane here, heading towards Linscott through a field. In late Winter, the area boasts an abundance of wildflowers.

There are several sizeable boulders here, forming two main sections, the most prominent of which can be found at SX 7293 8848, and visible from the minor road close by. The main rock here is crowned by a sign stating the name "Parford Brake". All of this is accessible from the footpath.

The other section is on Private Land, and consists of a couple of emergent, flat granite rocks, with no real height or stature (SX 7291 8844). When you're here, you should be able to hear the ambience of the small stream trickling past the tor, while horses graze in the aforementioned field.

Daffodils at Parford Brake Tor

Parford Brake Tor

Parford Brake Tor

Parford Brake Tor

Parford Brake Tor

The lane continues further up to Uppacott, a stunning hamlet boasting a marvellous array of snowdrops at this time of year, as well as several strange animals! Oh, and I forgot to mention Uppacott Tor; two separate artificial tors likely cleared because of the road. However, because nature has taken over they look natural. (SX 7324 8859 and SX 7330 8845)

Snowdrops at Uppacott

Uppacott Tor west

Uppacott Tor east

Uppacott Tor east

Sheep near Uppacott

I noticed, when viewed from the lane to Linscott, a rubble tor in a field left. I got a zoom of it and wondered if it deserved a name. For this and the next tor, the next one being natural and at Linscott House, I'm unsure. The rubble tor sits at SX 7363 8790.

A rubble tor

A rubble tor

The next tor was a much more satisfying affair, and also unnamed and on Private Land. Yet this one has more distinction and I am kind of baffled as to why I haven't named it yet. We already have a tor by the name of Linscott, so I don't know.

Well, I guess it's also because I would like to gain permission from the landowner(s) to get up close with the tor because it looks substantial. It can be seen from the driveway but I know there's more behind the wall. (SX 7366 8747)

Tor at Linscott House

Tor at Linscott House

I was really enjoying this leisurely stroll along the road; minimal gradient and plenty of farm animals to see made it featured and not boring. It enabled me to gather my thoughts.

I was getting hungry, however, and you know what that means; food. The next tor, Linscott Tor, was a few minutes' walk away, and a revisit from my post HERE. So I had lunch and contemplated the route ahead.

Linscott Tor

Linscott Tor

I hate making decisions, but I had to make one now; continue to Howton, a shorter route, or divert to Ash Tor along the bridleway to Bowden, then drop down into Howton? I chose the latter. 

I had ample time to enjoy the walk now, as although I was lengthening the route the road had quickened my pace with fewer distractions, aka tors!

Ash Tor lower outcrop

Ash Tor

Ash Tor

Ash Tor crevice

Ash Tor

Ash Tor 

Back on the bridleway, I saw that the fallen tree had not been moved since I was last here, back in December. It looks like it has been down for months and months because there was a smaller track skirting around the edge of it.

Snowdrops in Howton

Sheep at Waterfield, Howton

Sheep at Waterfield, Howton

Sheep at Waterfield, Howton

Bench in Howton

At the crossroads, I made for the one leading to Moreton and Trips. This time of the year is the best time to view Trips Tor, a large bedrock tor in South Wood on Private Land.

Trips Tor

Trips Tor

Trips Tor

Walking into the town centre I realised I still had some time to spare, so I headed up Queens Road and onto the footpath, almost doubling back to cross Wray Brook below Milland Rocks at SX 7552 8650.

Bridge and Milland Rocks

Milland Rocks

Milland Rocks

Milland Rocks

I crossed Lime Street and over the stile and Wray Brook (again!) to revisit Rectory Tor, the natural outcrops up on high.

Rectory Tor

Rectory Tor

Rectory Tor

But guess what? I was still too early, so I sat on a bench near the playground to view the unnamed outcrop in the field at SX 7596 8615. I sat and viewed the mist which started to cover the tops of Hingston Rocks and Mardon Down.

Bench above the Rectory

Outcrop above the Rectory

Outcrop above the Rectory

Overall, a good day, and yes way too many tors, rocks, boulders, outcrops, etc to document but hey ho, what can you do about it?

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