Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dartmoor: Mardon Down from Moretonhampstead

Doccombe Rock

Yes, I'm back in Moretonhampstead; it's either here or Chagford. This walk would still be different, though, and take in several rockpiles on the western side of Mardon Down, which, until now, were unbagged.

Setting off from the town to the Rectory, I again spotted the unnamed outcrop at the back of the field (apologies for the blurry shot). As the path descends to the stile, I passed an inscription to the tor.

Unnamed outcrop above the Rectory

Inscription beside a stile

Rectory Tor

Rectory Tor

Rectory Tor

A track passes through Halscombe to begin ascending through woodland to Yarningdale. Minutes after joining the driveway, a footpath sign on the left heads north to the southern flank of Mardon Down. From here, the views really open up with the likes of Haytor Rocks and Hound Tor visible.

Ascending to Yarningdale

Above Yarningdale

A short road walk west, my GPS informed me that it was now time to head off right up the slope to reach Mardon Down Rocks (south) discovered by Tim Jenkinson. This was easier than my LAST visit.

Mardon Down Rocks (south) moss

Mardon Down Rocks (south)

Mardon Down Rocks (south) views of Yes Tor and Cosdon Hill

Mardon Down Rocks (south)

It is just a short skip away to the northern rocks, where there is a shallow rock basin, a xenolith and even better views.

Mardon Down Rocks (north)

Mardon Down Rocks (north) shallow rock basin

Top notch views from Mardon Down Rocks (north)

Mardon Down Rocks (north) xenolith

The last ascent to the down affords not only some of the best 360-degree views on Dartmoor but also a plethora of archaeology.

Gorse on Mardon Down

Mardon Down stone circle (part of)

Maximajor Cross (Headless Cross)

Now, I venture into new territory, but navigation was simple: take the gently ascending wide path beside the hedge line and, when it turns right, follow it southward until you come across a path veering off left. This will take you to the summit outcrops of what Tim has called 'Stacombe Rocks' after the farm below.

Stacombe Rocks

Stacombe Rocks

But it continues further down the hill, one outcrop of which possesses a tiny plaque with the initials 'PA' dated the 29th May 1910 to the 18th April 1993 at GR SX 77602 87408. It is such a shame that no one knows why it is here and who the person was. Tim suggests that it may refer to father, which is plausible, and I reckon it may have something to do with the dwellings below.

Stacombe Rocks

Stacombe Rocks

Stacombe Rocks, showing the plaque

Stacombe Rocks plaque

The next tor of note was also first noted by Tim Jenkinson; in fact, all of today's tors were apart for Milland Rocks! Doccombe Rock is a stunning granite outcrop dissected by a wall at SX 77936 87489. Very much lesser known, don't visit here in summer as it would be difficult to view and reach since it is off the path.

Doccombe Rock

Doccombe Rock

Doccombe Rock vista

Doccombe Rock wall

Doccombe Rock

Doccombe Rock ivy

Doccombe Rock

Through a wooden gate at the south-east side of Mardon Down's eastern plateau, I descended into a woodland which had a private feel to it, despite no signs indicating this. Leign Valley Tor could be seen just down the steep slope, and what a beautiful tor it is!

Leign Valley Tor

Leign Valley Tor

Leign Valley Tor

Leign Valley Tor

Leign Valley Tor

Somehow, I needed to descend further to reach the driveway to Upper Leign, yet this required some hopping and diving. At the driveway, I took the marked public footpath into Woodcock Wood, to find the tor of the same name. 

It was a huge disappointment for me, however, and the 'tor' is really a few boulders, one by the path, and a tiny stack at the top of the woodland. OK, maybe the bracken may obscure a larger outcrop but as I visited in winter I did expect a little bit more!

Woodcock Wood Tor

Woodcock Wood Tor

Woodcock Wood Tor

Woodcock Wood Tor

Woodcock Wood Tor

Woodcock Wood Tor

I returned to the driveway and made for Upper Leign where a bridleway would take me back onto Mardon Down. But first I stopped for a snack, perched on a rock, as I hadn't eaten all day. 

Taking a short break at Upper Leign

Gate onto Mardon Down

Back on Mardon Down

I chose a slightly longer route back to Headless Cross, but instead of heading back over the summit, I followed the road around the down's north-west side.

Maximajor Cross (Headless Cross)

Mid Devon

Just before the cattle grid, I noticed some tadpoles. Descending the road wasn't enjoyable and was busy, but a bench on my right offered some respite, and the occasional views of Haytor Rocks caused me to pause. What's more, a small lane on my left was stocked up with potatoes.

Tadpoles

Bench near Addiscott

Holly

Potatoes, anyone?

At the bottom of the road, on Shute Lane, just before the sharp bend, a rockface intimidates you on the right.

Shute Lane dissecting the granite

Shute Lane outcrops

Shute Lane rockface

Shute Lane rockface

Shute Lane cliff

Shute Lane cliff

I had time to kill so followed the Wray Brook upstream to view one of my finds: Milland Rocks.

Milland Rocks

Milland Rocks

Moretonhampstead

A short ascent up Lime Street and back to the bus station.

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