Sunday, 2 February 2020

Dartmoor: Back to Fernworthy Forest (11.77 miles)

Loughten Tor

This was another walk that was planned last-minute really. Before the weekend hit, Paul Buck and Jason Wiggins (otherwise known as 'Wandering Jay', his blog here and his YouTube channel here) had planned a walk around Fernworthy Forest, and when I asked Paul what he was doing on Saturday as I had no plans he said and then invited me along for the trip!

I got the bus to Moretonhampstead for 09:45 where Jay and Paul were waiting for me in the main car park. We all jumped into Paul's car and set off the Bennett's Cross car park which was shrouded in mist. This was expected though as the Met Office showed mist for the whole day, but they're rarely right and just this once did I wish they were wrong!

Setting off we took the Two Moors Way track for the most part to the wonderful Hurston Ridge Stone Row, a double stone row and one of my favourites on Dartmoor.

Hurston Ridge Stone Row

Hurston Ridge Stone Row

Hurston Ridge Stone Row

We headed slightly west to join up with the Perambulation Track which was cut (I don't know when) to improve the route for walkers which I have no issue with as it is quite a worn track.

The route northward was easy going with the treeline of Fernworthy Forest coming into view left. That though could wait as we had the Heath Stone to visit. Of course, as expected, Tim Sandles has a brilliant page for those who want to find out more here.

Heath Stone

Heath Stone

Heath Stone Inscription

We joined the road heading into Fernworthy Forest where, at the sign, we veered off left to go in search of the 'elusive' and 'lesser-known' Loughten Tor. Now you might be thinking I have been here before (here) so why am I revisiting? Well, it has to be said, I like a challenge and given Paul (his blog here) also wanted to revisit it only made sense to go together, although I did feel a bit sorry for Jay as he had never been and didn't quite know what he was getting himself into!

High Dartmoor: Fernworthy

There is a fallen tree which is where Paul and I (on separate occasions) entered last time so it only made sense to do the same this time, however, the trees had grown quite considerably which made progressing through them more of a challenge than last time, collecting pin needles on my rucksack as we seemingly walked in circles for ages. I was lucky to be wearing my Mountain Warehouse fleece!

It was not easy and at one point Paul had suggested we give up, but I selfishly said no as I'm stubborn and we were almost there. I took the lead for a brief moment but we were still way off the tor's location (I say 'way off' because the tor can't be seen unless you're metres from it); our GPS's were reading totally different things so I put mine away relying on Paul to get us there, and sure enough, he did, and we came across the lower outcrop of the main pile that I missed last time.

Loughten Tor

Loughten Tor

Loughten Tor

I think Jay was both relieved and shocked at what he saw, and I can relate as this place really is claustrophobic. It's a pity that a path couldn't have been created to reach the tor at all times. Paul climbed onto the summit outcrop to admire the views of countless trees.

Paul atop Loughten Tor

Paul atop Loughten Tor

Time to leave!

Leaving Loughten Tor was bound to be quicker, and it most definitely was. It took less than 10 minutes which shocked both Paul and I after past experiences. We didn't end up at the fallen tree but rather east of it. Relieved to be out in one piece, we took forestry tracks to the fantastic Assycombe Stone Row, another double stone row. The mist really accentuated the scene, creating a rather tense atmosphere where you're surrounded by trees, enclosed.

Fernworthy Forest

Fernworthy Forest

Slabby at SX 66104 82652

Assycombe Stone Row

Assycombe Stone Row
Hut Circle beside Assycombe Stone Row

We descended to the track beside Assycombe Brook to head north to the reservoir road which crosses the South Teign River on Sandeman Bridge. At the end of the road, we struck left to ascend Froggymead Hill on top of which can be found the brilliant stone circle.

We chose to have lunch here; for me, that meant a small chocolate bar and banana!

Sandeman Bridge

Sandeman Bridge

Froggymead Stone Circle

Froggymead Stone Circle

Our next goal was Fernworthy Gate which would take us back out onto the moor. There was a large toppled tree that we had to get around or under to continue along the forestry track, so Jay, being tall, went around while Paul went in a ditch to give him a bigger gap between him and the tree, whilst I chose to crawl on my hands and knees!

Fernworthy Gate

Fernworthy Gate

We (well Paul and Jay) could see the Teignhead Farm Clapper Bridge below which spans the North Teign River. It is still my favourite clapper bridge which is in remarkable condition. This allowed for a dry crossing to access Teignhead Farm, a stunning ruin that I've passed many times but never visited.

Teignhead Farm Clapper Bridge

Teignhead Farm Clapper Bridge

Teignhead Farm

The best slotted gatepost on Dartmoor?! SX 63552 84350

Teignhead Farm collapsed roof

Teignhead Farm Ruin

Strange Troughs 

It was here where we realised we had hardly any time to get back to the car park before dark, so we decided to go to Grey Wethers anyway to see how we were doing for time to see if we would be able to bag a few more tors.

Passing over Long Ridge we were at the stone circles that are the Grey Wethers.

Grey Wethers Stone Circles

Grey Wethers Stone Circles

Grey Wethers Stone Circles

Paul took a bearing for the point where the South Teign River enters Fernworthy Forest at the boundary wall, so yes, we made the sensible decision to cut the route short. We ended up at the wall before the river but that was no issue as we were going to follow the wall for a while. 

It was a tiring descent and ascent route up and over White Ridge which has little interest apart from its elevation of over 500m above sea level, making it the highest part of the walk. We didn't summit but we did reach 505m which is a mere 1 metre lower than the top.

White Ridge

White Ridge

White Ridge
White Ridge

It was quite a descent down to the col that separates White Ridge and Assycombe Hill, and in order to reach the car the quickest, the latter has to be summited. I actually had a bit of determination to reach the top which came out of nowhere, but we all like to end on a high, don't we?

Stile

Assycombe Hill Fish Rock at SX 66269 81944

Assycombe Hill

Assycombe Hill

Assycombe Hill

It was starting to get dark now but there was no direct path between here and the car park, so we headed slightly north to stay on tracks for as long as possible before heading east on the Two Moors Way path, the same track we took earlier.

Bennett's Cross Car Park

A great 11+ mile walk and we only just got back in time before dark. I thank both Jay and Paul for their company and to Paul for kindly dropping me back to my residence.

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