Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Dartmoor: Bagging Hexton Tor

Hexton Tor with Great Trowlesworthy Tor behind

Finally, I conjured up the courage to make a day solely for Hexton Tor, which prior to now was nicknamed, by me, as the 'elusive tor'; it was a right bugger to attempt from the Great Trowlesworthy Tor side but being the last tor to bag here had to be done. On my map, it just appeared as a lonely orange dot amid tonnes of purple. Time to remedy that!

Parked up at the Blackaton Cross car park (SX 5700 6315), we ignored the cross (I forgot it was there at the time) and took the damp track to Big Pond. Having comfortably sat in the car for the last half an hour in the dry, the wind accompanied by the drizzle made for hard progress at the beginning. I haven't had a walk in these conditions for ages, but the Met Office were right, for now.

No swimming

Big Pond - it's what it says on the tin!

Track beside Big Point, with Hexton Tor dead ahead

Lee Moor China Clay Works Leat before entering Big Pond

Before leaving the track to try and find a 'Dartefact', it is difficult not to notice what I call the 'eyesore' of Dartmoor - the china clay works which dominate the landscape for the worse. Imagining this part of the moor without them is tough, but boy would it be totally different: Penn Beacon and Shell Top would provide some of Devon's most beautiful views, and Luxton Tor would be situated in a more pleasant location.

Eyesore

Before the sharp bend, we veered off left towards a small clump of trees in the hope of finding this 'Underground Outpouring of Water'. Without a photo, though, I wasn't too sure about where to look, but Mum and I were definitely in the right spot. 

Pond

Pond

But we were still optimistic, even more so as our next point of interest (yes, Hexton Tor still seems a long way away) was a boundary marker, also on Dartefacts. See HERE. This was easily spotted from the track.

Boundary Marker

Boundary Marker

Around another bend, we were metres away from Hexton Tor, but both tussock grass and a narrow depression, actually a small disused leat, filled with stagnant water, prevented a 'bee-line'. We were prepared for this, however, and continued to follow the track south-eastward where an obvious path heads off left, just before reaching the bridge.

Keeping to the left, scattered granite rocks litter the ground, many small and of little significance, but on ascending further, the main outcrop becomes visible and its size took me by surprise. It's not huge by any means, but for a lesser known tor, which is this close to Great Trowlesworthy Tor, it is fairly extensive and obvious from afar if you know where you're looking, and have the ability to block out Penn Beacon. I'm surprised maps don't feel this is worthy enough.

Hexton Tor rocks on the south side

Hexton Tor to Great Trowlesworthy Tor

Hexton Tor cave entrance

Hexton Tor

Hexton Tor
Hexton Tor

Hexton Tor

Despite the mist descending upon us, the Hanging Stone could be spotted due east, acting as a prominent marker in the area as little else apart from the clay works grabs one's attention. It is a standing stone, but it's now slanted and it appears as if efforts have been made to preserve and maybe even restore this fine feature.

Off to the Hanging Stone

The Hanging Stone, Hexton Tor left, Great Trowlesworthy Tor right.

The Hanging Stone

The Hanging Stone

Using the large, chalk bridge this time to cross the leat, we retraced along the whole length of the track, taking us back past Big Pond all the way to the car park, but with a slight diversion to the magnificent Blackaton Cross. Once upon a time, as old OS maps illustrate, the road which abruptly ends here once continued across the moor all the way to Tolchmoor Cross, where the road has now been rerouted to bypass both Lee Moor and Wotter Villages, taking on another minor road rewidened to allow for large vehicles to utilise and prosper.

The cross is beautiful; it remains in good condition with quite the contrasting backdrop. We could see the mist encapsulating Penn Beacon and Shell Top once again, after which there was a short break where you could actually see the two small tors.

Blackaton Cross

Blackaton Cross

Blackaton Cross

Nothing that way anyway!

I should say that the plan now, as I write this, is to visit another part of the moor after heavily focusing on the south-west corner. It seems that I have moved away from the 'north' and 'west' but I am starting to feel the urge to go back there. This hasn't started off too great as the next day I found myself nearby, below Gutter Tor!

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