Sunday, 16 June 2019

Dartmoor: Bellever Tor and Laughter Tor

Tim ascending Bellever Tor

After just finishing my first week of GCSEs, I already wanted to get out into some fresh air having been cooped up in a building for the last 5 days. It turned out to be one of my favourite walks, having great tors, terrain, and surrounding interest.

Tim (Jenkinson) picked me up promptly at 9 o'clock in the morning, and we headed out to Dunnabridge East Car Park, to being our walk around the 'centre' of Dartmoor.

Our first stop would be a new bag for me, one of many: Lower Cherrybrook Tor. This fantastic tor can be reached by heading south-west, over the stile at SX 63782 74464, then bee-lining towards it. The tor, at SX 6335 7413 consists of several interesting boulders and outcrops, the top forming a cave. A great find by Tim, it is another strange omission from the literature given its countenance is very good from the B3357 road at Lower Cherrybrook Bridge.

Lower Cherrybrook Tor

Lower Cherrybrook Tor and Tim in the cave

Lower Cherrybrook Tor

Lower Cherrybrook Tor cave

Lower Cherrybrook Tor

Lower Cherrybrook Tor

Lower Cherrybrook Tor avenue

We retraced back to the stile, ahead to the road, through a gate, taking a left, following a newtake wall which avoids the boggy depression situated between here and Bellever Tor.

It feels like a 'long way' round, but it is easy walking in dry conditions, and you can't exactly get lost. As you turn eastward, there are two stiles - we took the second, taking us onto the obvious track towards Bellever Tor.

But before reaching this beautiful eminence, we struck left to a lesser known group of rocks, sufficiently detached from Bellever proper and discovered by Tim. At SX 6437 7611, this is clearly a separate tor; now dubbed 'Little Bellever Tor', Tim noted a logan stone, now redundant at the site.

Little Bellever Tor

Little Bellever Tor

Little Bellever Tor ledge

Little Bellever Tor

Little Bellever Tor

Now, onto one of my favourite tors: Bellever. This stupendous tor just keeps giving; Tim and I made the effort to explore as much of it as we could, admiring its many stacks, climbing up to the trig point and plaque, and finding a couple of rock basins (OK, they're mediocre, but so what?).

Bellever Tor

Bellever Tor

Bellever Tor

Bellever Tor trig point, showing the plaque

Plaque on trig point
Bellever Tor

This summit avenue tor boasts magnificent views, too, some notable tors being Haytor Rocks, Rippon Tor, Laughter Tor, Longaford Tor, North Hessary Tor, Yar Tor, Corndon Tor and Sharp Tor. I was pleased to be revisiting.

Bellever trig point

Bellever rock basin

Bellever Tor

Tim on Bellever Tor

We spent some time here, but next, we were off to Laughter (Lough/Lar) Tor, a splendid tor which, in our opinion, is actually two tors: north and south.

The southern sections is less prominent but houses a rock basin (SX 65315 75702), a plaque for Bill Mudge (SX 65270 75674), a memorial for someone called Don (SX 65263 75705), a sheepfold (SX 6526 7559), a cave with its own chimney (SX 6521 7566 approx), and awesome views. And that's just the south section south of the wall!

Obviously with this in mind, we took our time absorbing all of this freely accessible goodness, starting at the south section, then to the north, then back the south. But to make things easier, let me focus on the south section first.

So for the purposes of tor bagging, I shall refer to Laughter Tor as two different tors: north and south, not just because of the wall, but because there is little relationship between the two sections.

These photos are NOT in chronological order!

Laughter Tor (south)

Laughter Tor (south)

Laughter Tor (south) rock basin

Laughter Tor (south) Don Memorial

Laughter Tor (south) sheepfold

Laughter Tor (south) - Tim in the cave

Bill Mudge on Laughter Tor (south)
Bill Mudge Rock on Laughter Tor (south)

If tor bagging is more of your jazz, then head to the north section, like we did. It comprises at least four decent outcrops, all of which are higher than the summit rocks (south section). There is also a cross in the wall, near the gate, at SX 65422 75793. It is unknown why it is here to my knowledge, thus if anyone can enlighten me please do so via ToD.

Laughter Tor (north)

Laughter Tor (north)

Laughter Tor (north)

Laughter Tor (north)

Laughter Tor (north)

Laughter Tor (north)

Laughter Tor (north)
Cross in the wall near Laughter Tor (north)

Phew... but there's still more in the vicinity, most notably a stunning menhir and a stone row consisting of three stones.

The former, at SX 6521 7538, is known as the Laughter Man, or Lough Tor Maen.

Me beside the Laughter Man - pic by Tim Jenkinson

Laughter Man

Laughter Man from the two gateposts

The stone row can be found at SX 65370 75321, and is not so easy to find. Not only are the three stones obscured from the path but there is no easy way to reach them, either, apart from a very skinny path from the south-east side. 

I reckon there's more to this stone row buried amid the dense heather and gorse, especially since it perfectly lines up with the Laughter Man.

Stone row east of Laughter Man

Stone row east of Laughter Man

We retraced onto a very level track heading towards Dunnabridge where Tim's car was parked, but en route, Tim spotted a fenced off mine shaft at SX 6528 7511. I am not in any way knowledgeable in this area, so I will just post the pics and let you read.

Dunnabridge mine shaft

Dunnabridge mine shaft

Upon reaching the main road, Tim wanted to show me the famous 'Judge's Chair'. This is a grand seat by the road in Dunnabridge Pound, where for once one could comfortably sit down - not that this particular location would be my choice!

Tim sat in the Judge's Chair

The Judge's Chair

A short road walk lead us back to where we started from, the easterly car park at Dunnabridge. If you've made it this far, well done, but there's one more tor to go and it's the easy to access Combestone, achieved by driving right up to it (use the car park, please don't off-road).

I don't know why but I never tire of coming here, as I always seem to find a new angle in which to frame a photo, plus the rock basins are cool.

Combestone Tor

Combestone Tor

Combestone Tor rock monster

Combestone Tor

Combestone Tor

Combestone Tor rock basins

Combestone Tor rock basin with open spillway

Combestone fallen rock basins

Combestone fallen rock basin

I always feel very wobbly when climbing this tor, and have never reached the top (yet). I think next time a stepladder will be necessary.

After this, Tim drove me back to Abbotskerswell, and a big thanks to him indeed. A successful end to an enjoyable day with lots of new tors in the bag.

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