Monday, 10 June 2019

Dartmoor: The Tors at Becky Falls

Boulder Clamber South Tor

I've been holding off writing this blog post for a while since it was a very tough area to document, and there is such an abundance that you can end up bewildered, like Mum and I at the time, walking around in circles trying to find a certain outcrop. Fortunately, we were one of the first people in, at 10 o'clock, so we had much of the park to ourselves to explore.

But anyway, if you enjoy a rant then you've arrived at the right blog post!

Mossy boulders at Becky Falls' entrance

An important thing to note if you ever attempt this walk: it is located within Becky Falls' woodland park, a popular attraction that requires a fee upon entrance. If you desire you will be provided with a map of the park showing three routes: the blue, red and purple trails, purple being the most strenuous.

This walk only follows the blue and red trails because that's where the tors are found. There is also a cafeteria and petting zoo near the entrance, which is wheelchair accessible - but the rest is NOT. It's not for the fainthearted.

With that all done and dusted, we took the higher bridge across the Becka Brook and turned immediately right, onto the red trail. This section of the trail is quite pleasant, with the rushing water sited on your right. Descending some steps beside some outliers of Boulder Clamber South Tor, it is not long until you are at the foot of the 'main falls' - and this spot is simply sublime.

Staircase near Boulder Clamber South Tor

Becky Falls

Becky Falls

I noticed some outcrops on my right, when looking up the massive boulders at the falls. I took these to be outliers of a bigger tor - and I was correct.

Outliers of Boulder Clamber South Tor

Outliers of Boulder Clamber South Tor

Continuing to follow the river, the trail did indeed become a 'boulder clamber', not helped by the numerous intimidating mossy outcrops on our left, all part of Boulder Clamber South Tor. 

Boulder Clamber South Tor

Boulder Clamber South Tor

Boulder Clamber South Tor

All of a sudden, the trail seemed to disappear, but just around the corner on the left is a small wooden staircase, built into the tor! It is here where the tor's best section can be seen: a humongous cave opens up on the left, quite deep, within a giant boulder.

I have a GR of SX 76226 80064, just east of the cave, but I think this is too far east given how many outcrops spread westward from here. Also, being in woodland may effect other GR's in this post which, as far as I'm aware, are all correct.

Boulder Clamber South Tor

Staircase at Boulder Clamber South Tor

Boulder Clamber South Tor cave entrance

Further eastward, another staircase appears on the left, heading steeply uphill. I decided to leave Mum at the bottom to see if I could go and find the North Tor (but she eventually joined me). I did find it, but I didn't know this at the time because I could not find an outcrop to match Tim Jenkinson's photo. This was not helped by the unexpected barbed wire and tree/vegetation cover.

So I retreated.

Boulder Clamber North Tor at SX 76185 80111

Back at the brook, we took the lower bridge to follow the red trail eastward, in the hope of finding the 'Red Trail Boulder'. Found at SX 76407 79980, this is an impressive pyramid rock beside the path so is an easy spot. I give credit to Tim for finding/naming it.

Red Trail Boulder

Red Trail Boulder

Red Trail Marker at Red Trail Boulder

Red Trail Boulder

The track twists and turns with little to note apart from peaceful woodland, until we came to the aptly named 'Money Tree'.

The Money Tree

The Money Tree

The Money Tree

I had seconds thoughts about going back to find the elusive North Tor, but refused, keeping to the path above the brook's right bank. (This does not include my little run up and down the red trail 'shortcut' just to confirm it wasn't there!)

Soon, we were at the main falls again, near the petting zoo.

Becky Falls

We recrossed the higher bridge that we crossed earlier to follow the blue trail this time. This was much more enjoyable, and within seconds did we spot a huge chunk of slanted granite to the right of the path, at SX 7597 8011.

This deserved a name, so we opted for the most appropriate: Deal Copse Tor, for it is located in that same-named copse.

Deal Copse Tor

Deal Copse Tor

Deal Copse Tor

Deal Copse Tor

Deal Copse Tor

The next tor was both a surprise and an error on my part. I meant to have studied the area before visiting to ensure the walk encompassed everything, but I had missed an outcrop, dubbed Blue Trail Tor at SX 7592 8011 courtesy of Tim Jenkinson. An interesting find by Tim, I didn't really 'explore' it - unlike me, and only grabbed one photo showing its scruffy appearance amid dense vegetation. That said, the photo was crap so I deleted it!

Small unnamed outcrop at SX 75813 80116, not Blue Trail Tor itself

The track, which is very easy to wander, comes to a halt at a crossroads. To keep in the Becky Falls' woodland park, take a right to follow the blue trail to Luke's Tor at SX 75871 80162. The name for this tor comes from an old map of Becky Falls. I say 'old' because the name for this and nearby Brett's Tor have strangely been omitted from the current maps, yet the outcrops still remain.

Luke's Tor and Blue Trail Marker

Luke's Tor

Luke's Tor rock monster

Luke's Tor

Luke's Tor

Luke's Tor

Brett's Tor is about 10 seconds away at SX 75881 80175. OK, maybe that was a bit of hyperbole, but these tors technically are connected so I'm surprised they're separate. I like this one, and it was the choice for a snack before the rain set in.

Brett's Tor

Brett's Tor and Blue Trail Marker

Brett's Tor

Brett's Tor

Brett's Tor

Raincoats on, we left the blue trail, keeping to the top of the woodland on its north side. Yet again, we got a bit disorientated, so we descended the steep staircase that I ascended then descended earlier, passing the tor again, to cross the lower bridge (again) to see if it would be located on the purple trail, the only trail not walked. 

Within minutes of stepping on it we turned around, and it was at this moment that I forced myself to see how close to the GR we could get before giving up. Back over the lower bridge (for the third time) and we found ourselves back at Boulder Clamber South Tor.

Becky Falls' lower bridge

Boulder Clamber South Tor - a different perspective

But this was not right; sure, we were nearer the GR, however, not near enough to spot an outcrop which matches Tim's photo. And besides, we were here earlier!

So, back up the stairs for the second time (fourth time using them) to go in search. I veered off into a horrid overgrown patch of the copse, leaving Mum to use the staircase since I was far from optimistic about the outcome. 

I found nothing resembling the photo, and I was now leaving the GR. I began to assume that the GR was wrong and lost all hope, having dedicated most, if not all of this walk for this one, single tor. I had no escape; barbed wire although low prevented an easy escape, but it was inevitable if I was going to find the North Tor.

I called Mum to meet me at the gate at the top of the staircase, and we were the closest to the GR we'd ever been, despite coming here twice already. We ascended the wooded slope, arriving the the right spot but with no outcrop in sight.

Admittedly, we both gave up, and chose to return to the the path and follow it towards the higher bridge. But on doing so, over the wire fence (it's not 'barbed') on our left, could be seen several mossy, obscured outcrops near but not on the GR. I thought, 'What are the chances of these rocks being the actual tor?' 

Only one way to find out, climb the fence (this is all within Becky Falls I think so I have no idea why it's here) and find the right angle for Tim's photo. Well wasn't I lucky finally, o' finally finding it at SX 76185 80111. I let out a huge cheer, laughing at myself because it's facing away from the path but still, I should've found this ages ago.

Boulder Clamber North Tor's location has finally been logged.

Boulder Clamber North Tor, showing wire fence

Boulder Clamber North Tor

Boulder Clamber North Tor

Boulder Clamber North Tor

Boulder Clamber North Tor

Boulder Clamber North Tor

Back over the higher bridge, we were greeted by a fellow goat in the 'petting zoo' - let's change the tone for this blog post now.

Goat at Becky Falls' Petting Zoo

Satisfied with the day, we exited the park to go into a public woodland to reach 'Becky Falls Tor' at SX 76006 79994. Another find by Tim, this one is named as it is within metres of both the woodland park and car park.

Becky Falls Tor

Becky Falls Tor

Becky Falls Tor

Becky Falls Tor

Becky Falls Tor

Becky Falls Tor

And back to the car park. All done! If you've made it this far, well done :-)

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