Monday, 1 April 2019

Dartmoor: An Expedition to the Queen of the Moor (Part 1)

Sandy Hole Rocks (north) view down the East Dart River

This walk had been in the planning for quite some time now, and given it was the first 'long' day of the year (31 Mar), a visit to the Queen of the Moor would be appropriate. I have never been until now and had high expectations of the tor itself. Several people have described it as the 'best' and even the 'queen' of the moor. Only thing which had to be decided upon was the route - would Paul, Tim and I go from Lane End or Postbridge? We took the latter.

This blog post covers the first part of the walk, from the start to Broada Stones. 

Heading out of Postbridge, we were awarded a beautiful sunrise, so already the weather was coming out perfect, or so we thought. The light illuminated the path as we made for our first outcrop, but before this, Paul and Tim guided me to the splendid Roundy Park Cist, topped by a double capstone, which is rare. All I can say is what a beautiful place to have one.

Postbridge Rock, a small rock in the car park :-)

Sunrise at Postbridge

Roundy Park Cist

Roundy Park Cist

 Then, the first outcrop of the day; Tim's Roundy Park Rocks at SX 6375 7963.

Roundy Park Rocks

Tim Jenkinson atop his Roundy Park Rocks

Roundy Park Rocks view of Hartland Tor

Roundy Park Rocks

Just a little further west, can be found another assortment of rocks, dubbed 'Braddon Lake Rocks' by Tim. They are located at SX 6350 7967.

Braddon Lake Rocks

Braddon Lake Rocks

Braddon Lake Rocks. Paul takes aim.

Braddon Lake Rocks

Across Braddon Lake at the ford, we began ascending the impressive mound known as 'Broadun' (Broad Down). There is a choice of paths to take here, but in order to reach our next rockpile, we took the central one to Broadun Rocks (south). The wall here was built over part of the tor.

Broadun Rocks (south)

Broadun Rocks (south), showing how the wall and tor connect

Broadun Rocks (south)

Broadun Rocks (south)

A short stroll away is the best tor on the down; Broadun Rocks (west). As Tim reminds us, this tor is not at all marked as even an outcrop on OS maps' coverage of the down, which if you ask me is ridiculous! Even from Higher White Tor, some 2km away as the crow flies, the tor stands out. 

It's a great elongated rock face.

Broadun Rocks (west)

Broadun Rocks (west)

Broadun Rocks (west)

Broadun Rocks (west)

Next up is the summit of the down, or at least the eastern one, where Broadun Rocks (north) resides. It's a bit disappointing compared to the other two rockpiles but you do get a great view of East Dart Falls to make up for it.

Paul Buck summiting Broadun Rocks (north)

Broadun Rocks (north)

Broadun Rocks (north)

Along the rock edge at Broadun Rocks (north)

Our next target was in sight, even for my one eye, with a track right to it. 'East Dart Falls', a well-known beauty spot, is a fantastic set of cascades with rock basins. It's a fairly sheltered valley and a wonderful place for a lunch break - not for us today, though.

East Dart Falls. Paul takes aim again.

East Dart Falls

Rock basin, East Dart Falls

Glistening water, East Dart Falls

East Dart Falls

There's a good track which continues up the valley, and as it enters Sandy Hole Pass, a large rock face appears on the right from this direction, known as Sandy Hole Rocks (south). This also spans the left side of the river, albeit in a more broken form, so I didn't feel the need to cross, especially since the main part is best viewed from this side anyway.

Paul, however, crossed where it was possible to get closer whereas Tim and I were more than content on the right bank. He then recrossed (by wading) without falling in, much to my disappointment!

Paul crossing the East Dart

Sandy Hole Rocks (south)

Sandy Hole Rocks (south)

Sandy Hole Rocks (south) huge buttress

Sandy Hole Rocks (south)

Upstream, the mound called Sandy Hole Rocks (north) comes into view. Unlike its southern neighbour, this pile of granite only sits above the right bank of the river. Climbing to the top reveals a good view down the pass.

Approaching Sandy Hole Rocks (north)

Sandy Hole Rocks (north)

Paul Buck atop Sandy Hole Rocks (north)

Sandy Hole Rocks (north)

We made for Broada Stones, a granite tor containing two major sections at Cowflop Bottom. The stream dissects the two where boulders and outcrops culminate into find piles still beside the East Dart. The name is obvious because it overlooks Broad Marsh, yet Ken Ringwood is the only reference to it I can find. If anyone can provide further details, please let me know on the Tors of Dartmoor Facebook Group.

Broada Stones

Broada Stones

Broada Stones

Broada Stones

Broada Stones

Broada Stones

It is here where this first segment of our Fur Tor adventure ends, but another one is soon to follow where we go even further upstream to Kit Steps and Kit Rocks, before taking a left up to Dartmoor's remotest hill and onto the Queen.

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