Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Dartmoor: Chittaford Down Rocks and Archerton Rocks

Chittaford Down Rocks waterfall

Today's stroll, armed with new boots and poles, was going to involve some gentle ascents, two new bags (outcrops), a benchmark hunt and a cist hunt, and believe it or not, I found everything I wanted to see!

Chittaford Down Rocks and Archerton Rocks are two micro tors which Paul Buck, Tim Jenkinson and I admired from afar on our Fur Tor Trek, but that wasn't enough to satisfy Tim; in July 2019, he got a closer look at them and they now feature on the Tors of Dartmoor website. Tim remarked how he had wanted to visit 'for over 30 years' and he could finally celebrate and say he's been.

Parked up at the Bellever Forest North Car Park, the one across the cattle bridge south of Postbridge village, we set off along the track to Broadun, following the East Dart's right bank. This route takes you up to the foot of the mighty hill, where there's plenty to see with the valley opening up ahead of you, backed with Hartland Tor on the right.

Postbridge and Bellever Trails

Feather and tare on tiny clapper bridge

But this time we weren't going for Roundy Park Rocks. Instead, we climbed the hillside to reach a wooden gate which was difficult enough to open, let alone close. Across an old leat likely heading to Powdermills (more here), we followed the treeline to the 'corner', then kept west to approach a metal gate which was kind to us!

Gate to Chittaford Down Rocks

Chittaford Down Rocks lay ahead, representing a small clitter above the left bank of Archerton Brook, where Eric Hemery (High Dartmoor p.480) describes the wonderful scene where the water creates several small cascades; "Archerton Brook now crosses a plain and approaches a beautiful rock-hollow beneath a large rowan tree, on the edge of a scarp, over which it makes a boulder-strewn fall camouflaged by rushes."

The rocks whilst seem from afar are much prettier from below but close up, where the waterfalls are. A modest wall of broken granite creates an impenetrable barrier which the visitor must either scramble over or walk around. Yes, I did the latter a few times! 

Archerton Brook is easy to cross here with a few boulders to help you across.

Chittaford Down Rocks

Chittaford Down Rocks

Chittaford Down Rocks

Chittaford Down Rocks

I must admit I was disappointed with the rocks but the longer I stayed the more I warmed to them, the location anyway. The sound of the gurgling water as it crashes against granite boulders was enough for me.

We contoured the hillside northward below Archerton Bog to the rocks of the same name, slightly lower down the hill than I was expecting. We forded an unnamed stream creasing the tussocks to get to our destination: the underwhelming Archerton Rocks, the main outcrop split into five segments. I'll tell you now this one looks much better in photos than it actually is!

Archerton Rocks

Archerton Rocks

Archerton Rocks

Archerton Rocks

Both bags complete (or so I thought), next up was the benchmark with no photo to accompany it. But first we had to get there: tussock grass resides in the depression to we kept our height recrossing the stream, before veering off left through sparse gorse to make for a lovely grassy plain. The terrain here is diverse.

Peaty water

At home, prior to this walk, I had checked Side by Side to look for any possible rocks and noted a couple. Now we were at the location, we had two exposed boulders to check over. The issue with B.M. hunting is that the light can be the difference between seeing it and going home disappointed; but today, with the sun shining in the right direction, I spotted a likely candidate at the top of the largest boulder.

I could see two fingers inscribed into it and then a third, all very faint thanks to the lichen, but I had found the B.M. at SX 63407 79641. Result!

B.M. Rock

B.M. 1274.2

B.M. 1274.2

B.M. 1274.2

We had hoped to find a gate in the fence near Braddon Lake Rocks to take us back to Postbridge but there wasn't one, not surprising since there's no path down on this side of the hill anyway, so we hand-railed back up to Chittaford Down Rocks. This wasn't too bad as we got to see some small outcrops and boulders below where we were earlier.

Chittaford Down Rocks

Chittaford Down Rocks

Chittaford Down Rocks

Back over Archerton Brook and through the metal gate, we beelined to the cist at SX 63680 79450.

Chittaford Down Cist

The Shark at SX 63741 79420

The Shark

From here there was little else to report apart from a clapper bridge over the leat and that horrendous wooden gate. Oh, and a sad rock at SX 64273 79344 :-(

Sad Rock

Bellever Forest North Car Park

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