Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Dartmoor: Shipley Bridge to Ivybridge (Part 2)

Sharp Tor (Harford Moor)

Continuing my walk from Part 1, I descended Three Barrows on its eastern slope aiming to cross Red Brook. I got a bit too close to Red Brook Head, entering some tussock grass so I followed the watercourse downstream to find a suitable place to cross, an easy task for such a small brook.

Red Brook after leaving Red Brook Mires

I put another beeline in place between here and Old Hill Rocks, the tor in the middle of nowhere with no paths and little recognition. But it's a splendid tor, boasting a fine location on the gentle slope of Old Hill. It was first mentioned by Eric Hemery; "The lower, south-east slope is named 'Old Hill', and on it lies a small group of rocks, a miniature tor in fact, known as 'Old Hill Rocks'."

Old Hill Rocks

Old Hill Rocks

Old Hill Rocks

Old Hill Rocks

Old Hill Rocks

I was doing exceptionally well for time, so I sat atop the fine tor for lunch, a late lunch at that but still enjoyable. But that said I still wanted to afford some time near the end as that's when I tend to slack.

I began to head south to cross Red Brook again, this time its course was considerably greater and it was speedily tumbling down the hill to meet Bala Brook below. It's a beautiful brook.

Back across Red Brook

I now faced an ascent, nothing too tough but enough for the odd stop! Wacka Tor sits at the top of Hickley Plain and I was pleased to be revisiting. Having done some extensive research on the tor I was looking for three millstones and a cross socket stone, all abandoned. Fortunately, this was successful thanks to both Tim Jenkinson and Dartefacts.

Additionally, there is a logan stone on the north-west outcrop of the main group, as there also sits an outlier at SX 6615 6229 quite detached from the main sprawl of granite (another group of rocks in the same boat can be found at SX 6677 6186 near a cist which I didn't visit). But there's still more interest around this splendid tor: a lesser known rock basin which I located to be at SX 66070 62188. It's shallow but it's there.

There's plenty to keep the tor bagger occupied!

Wacka Tor

Wacka Tor

Wacka Tor logan stone atop outcrop at SX 6632 6211

Wacka Tor cross socket stone SX 66289 62100

Wacka Tor millstone east SX 66233 62152

Wacka Tor millstone middle SX 66181 62224

Wacka Tor millstone west SX 66067 62244
Wacka Tor shallow rock basin

Wacka Tor outlying west outcrop

Leaving the madness of Wacka Tor, I walked right through a small bog whilst beelining to the cairn near Sharp Tor which was visible until I approached the Puffing Billy Track or Red Lake Tramway. It was nice to be back in civilisation, or at least that's what it felt like.

Crossing the track, I passed a boundary stone inscribed with 'H' and what resembles a 'B'. These letters could represent Harford and Buckfastleigh?

On the horizon, I could see the distinctive cairn marking the summit of the spur and, of course, I paid a visit.

Boundary stone and cairn

'H'

Cairn near Sharp Tor

Cairn near Sharp Tor

Sharp Tor, what an impressive vantage point. I am so pleased to say that this tor far exceeded my expectations given its generally negative reception - but I don't know why that is. The tor is OK, especially when you're below it. The position of the tor on the very brink of the hill causes it to look 'sharp' from afar. The views are awe-inspiring.

Sharp Tor

Sharp Tor

Sharp Tor

Sharp Tor

Sharp Tor

Sharp Tor

I returned to the track and set out in the direction of Ugborough Beacon, after passing over Piles Hill where, off the track, is the more well-known site of Hobajohn's Cross. Upon reaching the track, I bumped into another boundary stone, marked 'H' and 'U', so I presume what I thought was a 'B' must've been down to fading. Tim Jenkinson advises that the 'U' represents Ugborough.

Realising I was behind time a bit due to excessive tor sitting, I gave Ugborough a miss as I had been before and it was off the route. So instead I reached Hangershell Rock, another great revisit with an irregular rock basin on its summit. I wasn't looking but did miss a benchmark and a range marker.

I love how the tor obtains a different appearance from every angle. And yes, I do need a photo for every single one!

Hangershell Rock north side

Hangershell Rock east side

Hangershell Rock north view

Hangershell Rock south-east side

Hangershell Rock south side

Hangershell Rock west side

I returned to the Puffing Billy Track but not for long, as I veered off right to revisit my Butter Brook Rocks at SX 64850 59164. They looked a lot better than I remembered from my last visit, a bonus.

Butter Brook Rocks

Butter Brook Rocks

Butter Brook Rocks

Butter Brook Rocks

Butter Brook Rocks

Just past the 10-mile mark now and I began to tire, but fear not, I still had one more tor to bag, and a new one: Western Beacon. I ascended back up to the Puffing Billy Track, then across the col between Butterdon Hill and the beacon. Trying to cut corners, I found myself ascending at a slow rate, but eventually, I saw the cairns and the boundary stone, a very good one in fact, and the tor and quarry below.

Western Beacon ahead

Possible boundary stone

Boundary stone atop Western Beacon

The views are exceptional and I had to take a minute just to absorb everything, from the coast to the high moor. Ivybridge and Plymouth and the rest of the South Hams are visible, and for the hill's lowly 334m height, you feel a lot higher.

Western Beacon Quarry

Western Beacon outcrops

Western Beacon outcrop

Western Beacon outcrop

I received a message from the family saying that they would be arriving at Ivybridge Train Station in around 5 minutes, and I said that I'd be at least 15 but they seemed fine.

I tried to forget the fatigue I was experiencing and plodded on, descending the hill on its western side down to the gate and then onto Stowford Bridge via the bridle path which I previously walked on a Ten Tors training walk in the opposite direction.

Harford Moor

DNP Stowford Bridge

A simple walk back along Cole Lane brought me to the train station where I was relieved to sit down! An excellent walk if a little frightening at times.

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