Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Tors on Bridestowe and Sourton Common (south)

Icicle, Great Links Tor
Icicle, Great Links Tor

With the likelihood of snow appearing on the high parts of Dartmoor, as guaranteed by the Met Office, I was keen to see it. Well, with all respects, predicting the weather is difficult, especially for Dartmoor, but the so-called snow didn't happen, the only evidence on the whole walk was the lightest dusting at the highest point of the walk.

We parked, as usual, at the Fox and Hounds. I really like this place, the staff are lovely and it is a welcome sight at the end of a walk in the area.

Just after Nodden Gate, we made for the ford over the Lyd, but it was too deep for a crossing, we decided. Luckily, a track heads south beside the field wall, and past Vale Down Rocks (visited HERE), leading to the bridge beside the stepping stones.

Ponies near Nodden Gate
Ponies near Nodden Gate

Arms Tor from Nodden Gate
Arms Tor from Nodden Gate

Vale Down Rocks
Vale Down Rocks

Negotiating bog, we headed towards Arms Tor, a tor I like the more I see of it. At first sight, it is a bit messy and unimpressive, but get closer and you will be impressed.

It was blowing a gale up there, so the Met Office were right in that field. I almost got blown off the top of the summit whilst trying to get a decent shot of the rock basin.

Arms Tor
Arms Tor

Arms Tor
Arms Tor

Arms Tor
Arms Tor

Rock Basin, Arms Tor
Rock Basin, Arms Tor

Arms Tor
Arms Tor

The family beelined Great Links as I made my way, over tussock (grass), to Little Links. I liked revisiting this splendid tor, its horizontal jointing captivating to the stunning views westward.

Little Links Tor
Little Links Tor

Little Links Tor
Little Links Tor

Little Links Tor
Little Links Tor

Little Links Tor
Little Links Tor

As I ascended Great Links Tor I began to encounter snow, only a little, but enough to keep me pushing on to see if the summit had any more. 

I met the family at the top, and my was it windy up there! No photo can do justice as to show the strength of the wind. However, being at such a massive tor meant that there would always be one side that didn't suffer such fate; in this case, the south side, a northerly wind as the Met Office issued and confirmed earlier that morning.

Icicle, Great Links Tor
Icicle, Great Links Tor

Great Links Tor
Great Links Tor

Great Links Tor
Great Links Tor

Great Links Tor
Great Links Tor

Great Links Tor
Great Links Tor

At this moment in time, a decision had to be made; go north into the biting wind, taking in two or three new tors, or go west, back the way we came? Either way would have to endure the force of the wind so we took the former, dropping down off this mighty eminence, to reach the Rattlebrook Peatworks Track; a lengthy railway track that, similarly to Princetown, would serve as a vital resource for local communities, or so was intended.

The aim was to extract peat from the surrounding boglands, most notably Rattlebrook Head, the source of the river of that same name, which twists its way southward to reach the Tavy at Watern Oke.

Great Links Tor
Great Links Tor

The route to Hunt Tor looked malicious, so we ignored it and veered left off the track to bag Woodcock Tor, a small but pleasant tor with great views westward over Great Nodden and out to Cornwall. It's almost the same view as that from nearby Little Links Tor, visited earlier on in this walk. (SX 54911 87511)

It was first described by Eric Hemery; "The short combe opening between Woodcock Hill and Great Links Tor is not without interest. Small rock outcrops, very broken and scattered, occur above the north side of the valley on Woodcock Hill..."

Woodcock Tor
Woodcock Tor

Woodcock Tor
Woodcock Tor

Woodcock Tor
Woodcock Tor

Woodcock Tor
Woodcock Tor

Back on the track, heading north, I again veered off, almost getting "stuck in the mud" en route to Gren Tor, or Grenny Tor, or Grinny Tor, or Green Tor! Modern-day OS maps call it "Gren Tor", a name that must stem from "Green"; it perfectly describes the summit of this small emergent tor.

Gren Tor
Gren Tor

Gren Tor
Gren Tor

Gren Tor
Gren Tor

Gren Tor
Gren Tor

After crossing the Lyd, we chopped off the hairpin bend at the northernmost section of track, meeting up with it again just before the modern construction of a railway bridge. I suppose the intention of it was to allow cattle and other animals to connect with both sides of the moor here.

Nodden Rail Bridge view to Great (& Little) Links Tor
Nodden Rail Bridge view to Great (& Little) Links Tor

Nodden Rail Bridge
Nodden Rail Bridge

True, we could simply follow this track back to the pub since there were no more tors to bag, but I had always wanted to see the views atop Great Nodden, the Plum-Pudding Hill (ref. Crossing) usually viewed from above the left bank of the Lyd.

It was a mere descent of 20-30 metres before I reached the cairn, composed of non-granite rocks, the same geology as the hill itself I believe, both residing within the metamorphic aureole.

Great Nodden
Great Nodden

Great Nodden
Great Nodden

Great Nodden
Great Nodden

Great Nodden
Great Nodden

It was a simple stroll back to the beloved pub, a good end to a good walk, even if the wind (which I didn't mention often) hindered all (well, some) of the enjoyment which could've been had.

The Fox and Hounds Hotel
The Fox and Hounds Hotel

The Fox and Hounds Hotel
The Fox and Hounds Hotel