Tuesday 17 December 2019

Dartmoor: North of Widecombe (12.4 miles)

Southcombe Rocks

Having spent the last few months doing short walks (for me ones that aren't double digits), I felt demotivated to continue doing them and the only way to content myself would be to do a longer walk. I needed that sense of achievement and anything else I could pick up along the way, so when I came up with a circular from Widecombe I knew I had to do it, and I'm glad I did as it was a cracking walk with plenty to see, not least sun and mist and the goose that chased me at West Coombe!

Dropped off in Widecombe by the family, I went in search of the time capsule on the village green. Then, I explored some more of Widecombe, perhaps something I should've done at the end of the walk but oh well! I came across lots of other 'Dartefacts', all of which are shown below with their NGRs (National Grid References).

Widecombe Time Capsule - SX 71874 76832

William Crossing's Yew Tree - SX 71822 76764

Widecombe Church B.M. - SX 71861 76793

Widecombe Holy Well - SX 71778 76730

Widecombe Churchyard Cross - SX 71882 76777

I was already wasting time so I hurried on to Southcombe Cross to begin the steepest, albeit shortest ascent of the day: Southcombe Hill. The Cross is nothing special, just a fingerpost which once spelt Postbridge wrong, but there is a small tor here which Paul Rendell calls Southcombe Rocks. The lane bisects the outcrop which is why you see rocks on both sides of it. My only new bag of the day.

Southcombe Cross

Southcombe Cross sunburst

Southcombe Rocks - SX 71598 76439

Southcombe Rocks

Southcombe Rocks

The ascent wasn't too difficult but as I was fresh I soon started warming up, almost feeling the need to take off a layer but I didn't. The lane was peaceful and once I had reached the moor I spotted a spring on my left. It was quite a force forcing water out of the ground, swirling it around where it headed off downhill towards where I had just been to.

Spring - SX 70955 76437



Once I had reached the top of the lane, I turned right onto the easy to follow Hameldown Ridge Path, also the Two Moors Way. It may be simple to walk but I never tire of its delights both en route and off route. A mystery boundary stone, the D Stone, the Blue Stone, Kingshead Tor, Stoneslade Tor and the Stoneslade Tor cist can all be located between here and Hameldown Beacon Rocks.

The Mystery Boundary Stone - SX 70774 77161

The D Stone - SX 70745 77279

The Blue Stone - SX 70782 77595

Kingshead Tor

Kingshead Tor

Stoneslade Tor

Stoneslade Tor
Stoneslade Tor Cist - SX 71006 78333

The mist had descended on me now which was fine as I wasn't planning on leaving the 'ridge path', and having seen the excellent views up here on many occasions it made for a nice change. I reached Hameldown Beacon Rocks before the beacon itself before revisiting the benchmark on the wall.

Hameldown Beacon Rocks

Hameldown Beacon

Hameldown Beacon B.M. on summit

B.M. on the wall SX 70734 79064

I decided at Two Burrows to put on my hat as the mist had made the temperature drop quite considerably. I passed a fellow runner and several glider posts before reaching Hameldown Top at Broad Burrow, the summit of the huge down at 532m. Hameldown Cross couldn't be ignored between here and Hameldown Tor so I visited that too; if anything it looks more prominent in the mist as there's no background vista to distract you!

Approaching Broad Burrow

Broad Burrow

Hameldown Cross

Hameldown Cross

To my surprise the mist started to lift at Hameldown Tor; I could see extensive views all of a sudden the landscape felt huge. 

Hameldown Tor summit trig point and pile of stones

Hameldown Tor

Hameldown Tor trig point

Hameldown Tor

I lingered before descending to Grimspound where I bumped into a fellow D365er Nigel Machin. I had met him before, but he recognised me which is how it usually goes! We had a chat about our routes and how he had started off in Widecombe (so did I!) and how there's a Duke of Somerset (DS) boundary stone at Natsworthy Gate inscribed 'PIT'. A decent 10-minute chat complete we parted our own ways where we headed off to Chaw Gully. It was nice meeting you again Nigel!

I though had Hookney Tor to bag next.

Baby Clapper Bridge - SX 70120 80838

Grimspound south entrance

Grimspound Cross - SX 70121 80852

Grimspound Hut Circle

The path up Hookney Tor is quite short but steep nonetheless, and upon reaching the summit I had a slide on mud - Max style, of course.

Hookney Tor

Hookney Tor

Coombe Down Gate - SX 69955 81669

I began my descent off the high ground past Coombe Down Tor, stopping at a gateway to have a banana and a drink of water. I investigated the manmade pond below where I had discovered that the sole of my left boot had kind of fallen off! Oh dear! I had never had this issue with walking boots before so indeed it was an eyeopener for me. I phoned Mum to inform her but all I could really do was get on with it and just pray that it would hold up so I could get to Widecombe with boots on!

Coombe Down Pond - SX 70586 82033

Coombe Down Pond

Upright Granite Stone... Possible Gatepost? SX 70645 82130

I soon reached a concrete lane past a ruined building and waterfall to West Coombe which is an undisturbed farm, or so I thought until I had the experience of my life! I turned right at the farm to take the Mariner's Way to Heathercombe, but a fast-flowing stream had to be crossed. Minding my own business past some geese I noticed one of them had starting running up behind me, and before I knew it had started pulling my left leg! I turned around quickly to see what it was going to do next and it backed off, hissing. And if that wasn't bad enough this guard dog kept on barking the whole time and I really wanted to leave ASAP. I made the decision that because I didn't want to ruin my left boot I would take the long way 'round, utilising country lanes to Heathercombe past Canna Park.

Waterfall at West Coombe - SX 70861 82395

West Coombe

West Coombe

West Coombe loud dog and the evil geese

The long driveway led me over a small river to Canna Park where I turned right to follow the lane to Heatree Cross. This diversion took quite some time, but because there was little to see I made good progress, and the extra 1 and a half miles I was doing today wasn't too bad.

Shapley Bridge - SX 71683 83018


Heatree Cross

Heatree Activity Centre

At Heatree Cross I turned right to ascend slightly past the activity centre to the Fishes' Stone.

Wonderful Colours


Heathercombe 'Thine Is The Power'

I stopped briefly on a memorial bench before continuing down to Natsworthy Gate where I spotted a benchmark shown on old OS maps. I easily found the PIT Stone mentioned by Nigel earlier.

Natsworthy Gate

Natsworthy Gate B.M. - SX 72113 80222


The PIT Stone - SX 72096 80187

The road took on a long descent south to Widecombe passing a few 'luxury' buildings, and where the hedges gave way the impressive Old House Hill and Bonehill Down eminences could be seen. It was a pleasant walk on this quiet lane.

On my right I went to investigate a benchmark on Pittpark - The Coach House which actually does exist. I was very pleased with the find.

The Coach House at Pittpark

Spot the B.M.!

B.M. 897.7 - SX 72260 78267

The route only became even more interesting as I noticed some llamas (or are they alpacas?) in a field to my left. I then found Miolstone, a unique stone inscribed J Miol which means it's 1 mile to Widecombe. 




Miolstone - SX 72211 78034

Possible Trough - SX 72209 78028
Past Wooder Manor I entered Widecombe again, noting a brilliant slotted gatepost before I found myself at Kingshead Cross which is inscribed on a gatepost.

Wooder Manor entrance... there's supposed to be a benchmark here but I couldn't find it

Slotted Gatepost - SX 71800 77187

Slotted Gatepost

Kingshead Cross - SX 71651 77055

It felt great to arrive back in Widecombe with the sun still shining. I was also amazed that the sole on my boot was still hanging on, for dear life mind you but it did me proud. Now let's just take a few minutes to say bye to the boots - I mean it seems silly to keep one if they were bought together so they both had to go. Time for new boots!



In the bus shelter

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