Monday, 10 December 2018

Dartmoor: A daunting experience on Trendlebere Down

Trendlebere Tor

This is a blog post I just don't want to write as the walk was so crap (sorry, dire), but as I have to log these two tors properly on my quest to 'bag all of them', I will take you on a short but daunting journey through the heart of Trendlebere Woods on an early December afternoon.

Bored already? I can't blame you but still, the two tors in this area are worth describing just for those willing enough to go and visit.

Mum and I parked up at Trendlebere Down, and walked over the spur on the westernmost side of the down, noticing a quartz rock.

Quartz rock

We descended into the woodland, past an upright slice of granite, to find ourselves above a very impressive tor, which Tim Jenkinson first documented in "The Rock Piles of East Dartmoor: The Hidden Landscape Part 2 Dartmoor Magazine 133 Winter 2018" simply as 'Tor in the Woods'.

Rounding the outcrop reveals a very large boulder sitting precariously atop bedrock. Holly and Ivy are abundant at this time of year, a sure sign that Christmas is on its way.

Trendlebere Tor

Trendlebere Tor

Trendlebere Tor

Heading east, you'll immediately notice that the ground changes, becoming looser and this is because the rock type is now metamorphic. The hillside here is vertical and it only takes one wrong step and you'll be down in the Becka Brook.

We were aiming for Trendlebere North-West Tor, a cliff. OK, you've heard enough!

Trendlebere North-West Tor

Trendlebere North-West Tor

The question we were both asking ourselves is how do we get out of this dump: go back the way we came, a route we've just taken, or ascend right here and just hope that the gorse above is sparse? Oh dear, we took the latter and what a mistake it was.

With no walking poles, we were basically on all fours, with the dogs, on this cliff trying to reach the summit. It was a bit of relief at the top, but we were surrounded by a 10-foot wall of gorse. It was heartbreaking to see us four struggle through impenetrable terrain, being scratched to death. We obviously weren't invited!

How to now leave Trendlebere Woods

It took what felt like years battling through the gorse but once we reached the path we took earlier, on the spur, we cheered, albeit with little energy. I regret my stubborn move at the bottom and, despite it being a hard route in, always enter and exit above the Trendlebere Tor.

We made it back to the car for a stunning sunset over Black Hill, and I got the chance to zoom the forbidden Lower Hisley Tor from across the cleave. We even got to witness a rainbow.

Lower Hisley Tor

Further Information: There is what appears to be a third tor on the steep hillside here, as old OS maps show the two we visited but also another, across the stream, which would be of the same composition as the north-west tor. I reckon this would be best visited from below, or at least this would be its best angle for photography. 

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