Thursday, 27 June 2019

Dartmoor: Tors from the Scout Hut

Lower Hartor Tor

Let me put it right out there this was a hot one, and whilst the walk was easy ground, the tors great and the area interesting, the heat inhibited our enjoyment. We parked up at the deceptively quiet Gutter Tor car park, by the Scout Hut, in the hope of bagging a vast selection of tors to the east of here, and perhaps later on in the day Nat Tor (Sheepstor).

Past the Scout Hut along the uneven track, I noticed one of the PCWW 1917 Markers on our left. There are several of these surrounding the Burrator Watershed and were placed here just for that very reason. See HERE for more information courtesy of Dartefacts.

After visiting one, we spotted another further up the hill and then a third right beside the track we just left. The order of the following will be a bit mismatched because they all look the same.

PCWW 1917 Marker

PCWW 1917 Marker

PCWW 1917 Marker

PCWW 1917 Marker

PCWW 1917 Marker

PCWW 1917 Marker

Ahead, we could see a large scattering of rocks which I took to be the remains of Eylesbarrow Tor, or, to some, Aylesborough Tor and even Ellisborough Tor. The tor remnant is extensive and so it is difficult to know which part you visit. Given we were heading east next, we chose to see the westernmost part first.

Eylesbarrow Tor western rocks

Eylesbarrow Tor western rocks

Eylesbarrow Tor western rocks

Eylesbarrow Tor showing its proximity to the PCWW 1917 Marker

En route to the eastern section, we passed a fourth PCWW 1917 Marker, and, in view, the large rock crowning the eastern rocks at SX 59706 68228.

Eylesbarrow Tor best part

Eylesbarrow Tor

Eylesbarrow Tor

Eylesbarrow Tor

Across the track and through a settlement area, we took the obvious track directly to Higher Hartor Tor. Now from here, you wouldn't even realise there was a substantial tor sitting near enough at the top of the spur until you're actually there.

Best called Higher Hart Tor, this was perhaps the best tor of the trip as it is simply beautiful: a long granite ridge protruding above the River Plym, with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, more so on the western side; ample places to shade and admire the unusual high rock face on the southern side; and a wonderful location to enjoy the views over Sheeps Tor and have a picnic.

Higher Hartor Tor upper

Millie on Higher Hartor Tor

Higher Hartor Tor

Higher Hartor Tor

Higher Hartor Tor

Higher Hartor Tor

Higher Hartor Tor
Higher Hartor Tor

It was getting hotter, so we trekked down the nice path to Lower Hartor Tor, or Lower Hart Tor as it should be called. I would prefer to call it this but I reluctantly stick with the OS names they're more accepted and well known.

This tor is also very pleasing to the eye and is sited in a lovely spot, just above the infant River Plym which explains why people camp here so often.

William Crossing puts this into perspective, "As we make our way down by the Plym through the great stream-work we pass under Lower Harter Tor. This is not a very large pile, but is, nevertheless, striking on account of the massive blocks of which it is composed. The ground around is strewn with granite."

Lower Hartor Tor shallow rock basin. That's a possible logan stone on the right.

Lower Hartor Tor

Lower Hartor Tor

Lower Hartor Tor through the gap

Lower Hartor Tor

Lower Hartor Tor

We dropped down the the infamous Plym River, infamous as it can be very difficult to cross, and I can see why. We were lucky in this instance because we visited during a dry spell, thus the water levels were low and it didn't take long to find the perfect boulder to act as a stepping stone. 

Across, we headed up the hill where the dogs started to fatigue - so we carried them over the tussock grass to reach the pleasant pile of rocks known as Calveslake Tor. We expected to see adders sunbathing but they must be well camouflaged.

Calveslake Tor

Calveslake Tor

Calveslake Tor

Calveslake Tor

We refuelled, perhaps drinking excessively but I was prepared to bring lots of beverages. To my amazement, after standing atop a poised rock near the top of the tor, it moved quite violently with little effort. Immediately I came to the conclusion that it's a lesser known logan stone, but please respect it; we don't want another one of these rare formations to be in the hands of idiots.

Calveslake Tor and its logan stone, looking back to Hartor Tors

The next objective was in clear view: a cist at SX 60872 67545. It is damaged, but the capstone still remains, and it sits uncomfortably on a slant. It definitely demonstrates the remoteness of the vicinity.

Cist and Calveslake Tor

Calveslake Cist

The next and last public tor of the day is a strange one. 'Little Gnats' Head' is a bizarre name for a small but fine knob of granite amid tussock grass, some height above Calveslake Tor. The main rock sat atop a huge chunk of bedrock is believed to be another logan stone (ref. Eric Hemery); you can literally see through the gap between the bedrock and logan. The tor fails to catch one's eye from afar as it's diminutive which makes getting there even more enjoyable.

The views from here are better as Little Gnats' Head is higher than its neighbour Calveslake Tor. They embrace tors such as Sheeps Tor, both Hartor Tors, Hen Tor, Eylesbarrow, Calveslake Tor and Gutter Tor. I'll call it Solitude Tor!

Other rocks lie around here, in no particular placement and are all fine spots to sit down and take in the stunning scenery. There hasn't been a single disappointing tor today; the heat is the only downside, ruining the temptation to linger a while.

Little Gnats' Head

Little Gnats' Head

Little Gnats' Head

Outliers, Little Gnats' Head

Outliers, Little Gnats' Head

Heading west for a few metres, it wasn't long until we came upon tyre tracks heading in the direction of Plym Steps. I expected this to be a waterfall like Kit Steps - maybe it is - but with the lack of rain it was hard to tell. The ford was too deep so we hopped across granite in the 'river'.

On a well-worn track we now headed up and over the hill, across another ford which was unexpected, leading us back to the long track - the same track that starts at the Scout Hut and goes cross-country past South Hessary Tor and into Princetown, eventually.

Ditsworthy Warren Ford

Ponies and Hen Tor

On our travels, whilst we still had signal, Mum decided the ring up the landowner of the private tor - Nat Tor or, as the owner corrected us, 'Nattor'. Yes, a bit of difficulty in understanding each other but he was obliging and granted us permission, warning us that a 'bull' resides in the field so a visit is at our own risk. The former name is used by William Crossing in his Guide, but the latter name is used by the farm close by.

Back at the Scout Hut, I left Mum, the dogs and my rucksack (for good reason) to attempt bagging the tor on behalf of the landowner's advice, making my way over the cattle grid westward.

Gutter Tor

During the conversation, he (the owner) said nothing about climbing gates, so when I found myself climbing the wooden gate which links the field with the road I was a tad surprised. Not alarmed, I successfully made it across, opening another gate, this one metal and unlocked. In the field where tor is located, I saw no 'bull', but rather at the far end of the large field a tractor feeding a dozen or so cows, and, just below the tor outcrops, a few sheep shading.

I didn't hang around, so I quickly circumnavigated the tor ruin, which it is, took a tonne of pics, as I do, and escape in order to absorb my achievement.

Nat Tor

Nat Tor

Nat Tor

Nat Tor

Nat Tor

Nat Tor inhabitants

Nat Tor

Nat Tor field wall. Gutter Tor ahead.

And that was it; I legged it back to the car park as I too was feeling the heat from the day (OK, not the best idea I know). A tiring day but rewarding in the sense that the tors are so good and the terrain is so gentle, necessary in such conditions. A water supply was also crucial to cool off the dogs, even if they hate the stuff!

Gutter Tor car park

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