Thursday, 31 October 2019

Bodmin Moor: The Tors and Rocks on East Moor (10.63 miles) - When Idiots do Bodmin Moor!

Tolcarne Tor

Our plan to clear up some of the stragglers on Bodmin Moor's periphery turned into a different kind of walk. Sheron Vowden had suggested we instead do the tors and rocks on East Moor, and I wasn't going to say no, but the weather forecasting heavy rain all day did worry me a bit, and too right it should've!

We parked up at Halvana Plantation (SX 2140 7876) where we immediately regretted the decision to go out: it was peeing it down and although the plantation sheltered us we knew that on the high moor it would be a different story. Carneglos Tor was first, only we were zigzagging through the trees on soggy forestry tracks to avoid the felling works in the area. They were even working on a Saturday, so we kept away from the noise and heeded all (well, most!) warning signs.

Halvana Plantation

It was a very wet affair: I had wet boots within the first 5 minutes of stepping out of the car and I knew that the weather wouldn't improve anytime soon. Eventually, Carneglos Tor was reached, scaling a low wall. It sits on moorland and is still open access land, and what a fine tor it is, boasting a fine rock basin.

Carneglos Tor

Carneglos Tor rock basin

Carneglos Tor

Carneglos Tor

Back over the wall, we stepped back into the plantation on really uneven ground, a watercourse in fact not marked on the map, and one of many which we would encounter today after last nights heavy rain. Back on track, we made for the wall to access the high moor, but a barbed-wire fence got in the way, and I couldn't get over it, unlike Sheron and Bryony (her dog). A massive pool of water lay between here and the gate at SX 2081 7726, going up past my knees. I climbed the bank to asses the situation only to slip and catch my left leg on barbed wire. It took some time to get back up and I concluded that I would call this a failure and head for the gate instead.

We had a quick meeting about whether or not we would brave the elements, but I, of course, was up for more of a challenge. So, we took a beeline from here to Greymare Rock, passing through a 'river' exposing peat.

River

Peat

Peat

The rock is quite impressive at close quarters and what you will notice is it has a large joint striking through the middle of it, though only halfway around the rock which is strange. Apologies for the poor photos but the relentless wind meant I couldn't hold the phone still.

Greymare Rock

Greymare Rock

Greymare Rock

Greymare Rock mini rock basins

Carey Tor was a stone's throw away, and we chose this fine tor to have lunch on and to discuss the route. It would be an easy walk from here to Fox Tor, but I was adamant that we could do Ridge and Tolcarne Tor first. We were surprised to have done over 5 miles already as the ascent had been minimal.

Carey Tor

Carey Tor

Carey Tor

Carey Tor rock basin (one of many)

Carey Tor

We went around the appropriately named Watery Marsh to begin ascending the imaginatively named 'Ridge', a somewhat disappointing hill with a few loose rocks and a tumulus near the summit.

Ridge

Ridge

Ridge

Ridge

There were no views from here so there was little reason to linger thus we descended through bracken to Tolcarne Gate (named by me; SX 2485 7835), slipping and sliding down the hill which was much bigger in person than maps could portray. The drop-down to Tolcarne was quite significant, even if it is just a little over 100 metres. The descent reminded me of Snowdon.

The water accumulated at the gate to form a river which is also the marked bridleway on OS maps!

Beautiful tree below Ridge

View of Tolcarne

Tolcarne River!!

Tolcarne River and Gate

The descent was quite hazardous but manageable and we soon entered the beautiful farm known as Tolcarne, all quiet. We took the footpath north to the tor of the same name, scaling a mossy wall into the woodland where the magnificent Tolcarne Tor lay in front of us.

Whilst rounding the north side I caught my legs on a branch hidden under bracken and went flying, landing on metamorphic rock. I came down with quite a force, exerting most of it on my right hand which fortunately absorbed most of the pain so I could get back up with the only other difficulty being that my bag added extra weight.

Tolcarne Tor beginnings

Tolcarne Tor

Tolcarne Tor

Tolcarne Tor

After leaving the woodland we spotted a small tor on our left, not noticed on our way in. 'Little Tolcarne Tor' is what we've christened the mound of rock at SX 2521 7856.

Little Tolcarne Tor

Little Tolcarne Tor

Little Tolcarne Tor

We simply retraced our steps back to Tolcarne Gate where we kept right to follow a semi-decent track to Clitters Plantation, a beautiful undisturbed woodland.

Gateposts

Clitters Plantation

Negotiating a whole load of cows, we descended to the so-called ford north of Redmoor Marsh which turned out to be a lake amid fast-flowing water. It was a river and we had to cross it safely to reach Fox Tor. Well, Sheron and Bryony made it across safely near the wall at SX 2330 7877, but I chose somewhere further upstream much nearer the ford.

What a bad decision that was! The first half across was fine, though up to my knees, and I used my walking poles for support, but from here is where I encountered a problem. I was sinking as I stepped on what could only be a feather bed (aka a bog), noting that the ground below me was opening up and I almost went under, certainly up past my waist where my phone and glasses were (but fortunately, only the latter got wet). I had to think fast before I got swept downstream so I quickly pushed forward atop any reeds I could find to scramble up the left bank, and that was that.

I can safely say that it was a memorable experience and it took me back to one of my Ten Tors training walks where I 'fell' in the Blackabrook River - link HERE.

The lake

What we had to cross (or swim in)

That aside, I now needed to start moving quickly as I was cold, obviously, but even colder now I had gone for an unexpected swim, so Fox Tor would be our next checkpoint. Once at the top, the breeze turned even colder and we didn't want to linger as we had made it this far.

Fox Tor

Fox Tor

Fox Tor trig point

Fox Tor trig point

Fox Tor

We descended northwards to the gate and the road where we both really started to feel the cold; then, a short road walk back to the car. I immediately took my soaking wet coat off replacing it with my hoodie, seeking refuge, but I should've changed my walking trousers too! Sheron's hands were shivering so she had to use both of them to start the car! And then, to our relief, the heating on full blast warmed us up somewhat, but I knew that I (we) had to be careful as to not get hypothermia so as soon as I got dropped off, I jumped in the shower and then put on warm clothes with a hot water bottle to comfort me.

But besides that, it was good fun and we didn't see another human all day. I was also happy with the overall distance of over 10.5 miles.

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