Sunday, 3 February 2019

Dartmoor: Slade Cross to Bag Tor (in the Snow)

Haytor Rocks

After being a bit disappointed last week by the lack of snow, seeing 'heavy snow' issued by the met office with an 'amber' weather warning I got excited and planned a route that would take in some of the higher tors nearer to home. 

On the bus, from Newton Abbot, I could see a band of whiteness topped by three peaks; Haytor, Saddle Tor and Rippon Tor.

Immediately excited, when getting off the bus at Slade Cross, I made my way up to Slade Copse Tor - on Private Land - but reachable from a gap in the hedge. There's so much more to this large tor, north-westward, but today's focus was not about exploring woodlands, it was about getting up to Black Hill within the first two hours to see the snow.

There isn't much for me to say in this post so it will be a case of the pics telling the walk if that makes any sense.

WARNING! THIS BLOG POST FEATURES THE COLOUR WHITE IN EXCESS.

Slade Acre

Slade Copse Tor

Slade Copse Tor

Slade Copse Tor

A little further along, I spotted an outcrop. I was puzzled at first because I've walked past it several times without knowing about it. Whilst of little interest at first glance, see it at close quarters and it is quite significant, its mossy fissures immediately gaining your attention. More of the Rock extends onto Private Land in the adjacent field below, with a steeper drop to the ground.

It is heavily adorned by ivy and moss which makes viewing the Rock quite difficult, possibly the reason why it has not received any recognition until this point. The name of "Slade Acre Rock" seems obvious given its position above the aforementioned house of the same name. (SX 7980 8100)

Slade Acre Rock

Slade Acre Rock

Slade Acre Rock

Slade Acre Rock

The road became icy as it progressed to the entrance of Higher Knowle Wood. Distracted, again, I tried to get a zoom of the forbidden Hatherleigh Tor.

Hatherleigh Tor

The track to Lower Knowle passes Higher Knowle Wood South, so I was obliged to visit since it sits about 20 metres off the path.

Higher Knowle Wood (south)

Higher Knowle Wood (south)

Higher Knowle Wood (south)

Higher Knowle Wood (south)

Taking the road which winds its way around the rural fringes of Lustleigh, I followed the track through Pullabrook Wood, from its large car park.

Nutcombe

Sheep at Pullabrook

Welcome to Pullabrook Wood

Logs in Pullabrook Wood

Reaching the lane, marked as Old Manaton Road on Google Maps, I was expecting a more dramatic ascent of Trendlebere Down. The contours certainly suggest a steep climb, and since I was in the snow, I expected it to be strenuous. But it wasn't.

Ascending Trendlebere Down

Gorse on Trendlebere Down

I was proper in the snow now, as I took various tracks up to the slopes of Black Hill. At the lane to Yarner Wells and Beckaford, I made for a small group of rocks on the valley side. Interesting enough, I dubbed them Beckaford Rocks, after the farm nearby. (SX 7620 7914)

Sunlight

Powerful

Beckaford Rocks
 
Beckaford Rocks

The ascent to Black Hill North Summit required bags of effort; a painful trudge through several snowdrifts to the summit involved no paths nor respite. Seeing that summit cairn was a sigh of relief.

Black Hill North Summit

Black Hill North Summit

Southward lay the two outcrops known as Black Hill Rocks North.

Black Hill Rocks North

Black Hill Rocks North

Black Hill Rocks North

Black Hill Rocks North

Black Hill Rocks are south of here and were being used as a viewpoint by (I presume) husband and wife. They seemed a bit concerned about me wandering around the tor, getting stuck in drifts, and I couldn't blame them. I was ill-prepared!

Another drift!

Icicles on Black Hill Rocks

Black Hill Rocks

Black Hill Rocks

I now had to contemplate the route; Leighon Tor and Hole Rock were off the path and, knowing how deep the snow was, chose to leave them alone - so I stuck to the track which meant for an enjoyable stroll to Smallacombe Rocks.

Smallacombe Rocks view of Holwell and Top Tors

Smallacombe Rocks

Smallacombe Rocks

Time for a quick snack before I freeze!

I felt like I was in the Alps! Hound Tor and Honeybag Tor resembled craggy peaks such as the Eiger and Matterhorn - OK, not quite to scale - and Haytor Rocks dominated the view southward, where I would be heading next.

The path to Haytor Rocks was not obvious, but what was obvious was how popular the tor was as I eventually arrived at it! I knew it would be like an amusement park, however not quite this busy. As I passed through the 'avenue' of the two rocks, I was horrified by what I saw: cars parked on the road and basically anywhere where they could fit. I almost cried watching vehicles, most likely locals, squeeze through the mess. Just imagine if one of those had been an ambulance; it could've been the difference between life and death.

Haytor Rocks

Haytor Rocks

Idiots - a one-way system 😡

Idiots

Leaving Haytor Rocks

I took the track to Pinchaford Ball Tor, avoiding much of the crowds, but the tor, even one so lesser-known, was crawling with people.

Pinchaford Ball Tor logan stone

Pinchaford Ball Tor

Pinchaford Ball Tor

Pinchaford Ball Tor

Bag Tor was next, first passing some ponies, sheep and a boundary stone.

Bagtor Manor BS

Bag Tor view of Rippon Tor

Bag Tor

Bag Tor

Bag Tor

Trying to get to Blacksmith's Shop from here was perhaps the greatest challenge of the day, especially as my legs were feeling it. The Sig was not too difficult to ford and its surrounding mire was frozen, but I got lead into gorse and tussock grass hiding holes - ankle breakers - below the surface of the snow.

At Blacksmith's Shop, a small tor, I climbed to the summit (not too difficult) to try and see if I could find the 'I' for Ilsington and 'B' for Bagtor Manor. I failed, as expected, and just as I was about to descend I lost a leg in a deep hole, the gap between two of the outcrops. The snow had literally filled in the hole and I wasn't to know. I am fortunate that I had landed gracefully.

Blacksmith's Shop

Blacksmith's Shop

Don't go down there!

The final leg was to Saddle Tor where I waited for mum to pick me up in the north car park. Had I known how long she'd take to get here I would've walked up to Saddle, but nevermind. The traffic on the way back was dire and there were reports later that evening about the chaos and selfishness. Luckily, there was one free space in the Saddle Tor north car park.

The B3387

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