Sunday 9 June 2019

Dartmoor: In Search of Dartmoor's Chub Tor

Chub Tor

Chub Tor, one of Dartmoor's best-named tors, is also one I've been meaning to bag for some time. This is not my usual patch (of land), so I became even more excited to explore a new area. A late afternoon venture on the west side of the moor proved successful, and Mum and I can now retell the tale.

Now, before I dive right into this blog post there are a few things you must be aware of if you ever consider visiting this outcrop:
  1. Chub Tor is on PRIVATE LAND, although on my visit, there was no signage to observe. I do not support trespassing, however, this is a very minor stroll off the public right of way where no crops, wildlife or privacy were disturbed. I now believe that a sign at the end of the tunnel has been put up asking people to 'please keep out'; hopefully not as a result of this blog post.
  2. To reach the tor at SX 5208 6633, you must pass through a dark tunnel, slippery in places, as well as occasional areas of bracken. The tunnel is very difficult to see from the footpath below.
  3. After passing through the tunnel, there is a very steep hill in front of you, bounded by even steeper sides. This is a gully and you can either ascend the hill ahead before descending again (which is what we did, thanks to me), or you can do the easier route by clambering up the right-hand-side.
  4. For further information, please refer to Tors of Dartmoor. I will not be held liable for any damages caused or if you get into any trouble visiting this site. This blog post is here to document my visit and to note this outcrop for the purposes of completion.
We didn't just do Chub Tor, either, since we parked as close as we could get to it - that being the large car park at Roborough Rock - the tor we decided to leave until the end as it would be easier and more enjoyable.

Roborough Rock car park. Views of Cox Tor and Great Mis Tor.

The walk across the A386 turned into more of a run as it seemed like everyone was in a hurry - it's the main link between Plymouth and Okehampton after all, passing through Tavistock and several villages.

Across the road, we immediately took the first right turn onto Drake's Trail, a flat, easy-going cycle track which follows the courses of both the Devonport and Plymouth Leats. It wasn't long before we spotted the sign we were looking for on our right - a footpath leading to Hoo Meavy - the path we took.

Signposts here seem to disappear, and you are left taking a wide track which winds down the hill, with views of Sheeps Tor and several grand houses on the left. At the bottom of the hill, we turned right and then left under a massive railway bridge. 

A very rusty kissing gate can be seen on the right, which took us along a narrow footpath adjacent to the railway line that is disused. It's a pleasant stroll until you suddenly approach an iron gate beside some houses. Almost at Chub Tor, the path opens out into a pretty woodland - this is Chubbtor Wood.

Public footpath to Clearbrook

As expected, we couldn't find the tunnel at first, the only object in sight being a ruined building on the left. This was the correct location, however, so I made the decision to explore the slightly elevated right bank. 

Soon, I saw the tunnel, a bit more overgrown than expected and very dark, so I called Mum to join me and turn on the phone torches!

There's a tunnel in there!

Chub Tor Tunnel

If you don't like claustrophobia then perhaps this isn't the place for you because the enclosed area does assert an intimidating feel to it. I knew where to look but the vertical hillside meant the only way to go was ahead, for me at least, as Mum would've quite happily ascended. As usual, she had the right idea but it felt like climbing Everest.

We pushed forward, declining the route we should've done. The leaves made this a proper chore, but our proximity to the tor was compensation in itself!

Out of the gully, the woodland opens out and you can breathe, and move freely somewhat. We realised at the time that we were too high up, the only way forward meaning a descent over loose ground, a common feature of non-granite areas.

I spotted the top of the main outcrop below us and had to say I was quite surprised at how low down the hill it is, as well as how close to the railway it is. The top is not all impressive, but that's to be expected of all valley side tors where the lower side is where the rock shines.

Chub Tor summit

Happy with the find, we rounded the tor, admiring its 'chubby' appearance. There is some contention about this site, but it's the only outcrop in the vicinity of Chubbtor Wood, and the many houses where the name is prominent. It's definitely a tor, though, albeit a rather small one.

Chub Tor

Chub Tor

Chub Tor

Chub Tor

Chub Tor

Chub Tor

The return would hopefully be quicker, battling tree branches to reach the steep descent at the tunnel entrance. Mum used one of my poles to descend without any issue but me, as usual, went on my bum and almost slid into a tree trunk. I swerved to avoid it. It was a free rollercoaster, and thoughts were now of getting back up!

How to leave Chub Tor - pic by Beth Robotham

I had taken half of the wood with me as we crawled through the brooding tunnel. It felt more difficult retracing back to the car park than the journey to get there did. I take that down to the dampness of Chubbtor Wood.

Elford Town Tunnel

Sheeps Tor from Drake Leat

Back across the road, we had another tor to explore, and a very fine one too: Roborough Rock - first visiting the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Memorial and the Harrowbeer Aerodrome. Another non-granite outcrop, this one is so accessible and beautiful.

Harrowbeer Aerodrome, the memorial left of the car

Harrowbeer Aerodrome

We circumnavigated the tor, part of which was being enjoyed by families, the western side in the woodland being the quietest. The easternmost edge of the tor is known as 'The Duke of Wellington's Nose' for obvious reasons.

Roborough Rock

Roborough Rock

The Duke of Wellington's Nose

Roborough Rock

Tree growing in Roborough Rock

Roborough Rock

Roborough Rock

Roborough Rock and its proximity to the car park

So, all in all, a very good walk; enjoyable, entertaining and picturesque in many sections - though not the road crossing! If you ever wish to retrace my steps in the future, you should seek landowner permission to visit Chub Tor as I hear that a sign has been put up, giving a clear indication that the owner wishes for people to abide by it and, well, stay away.

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