Sunday 9 February 2020

Dartmoor: West of Moretonhampstead (10.53 miles)

Popple Tor

The aim of this walk was to photograph some lesser-known tors to record on the Tors of Dartmoor database, and who better to be with than Paul Buck and Tim Jenkinson?

Tim and I arrived at Moretonhampstead to meet Paul at the main town car park, setting off westward to the Motor Museum to visit the flush bracket at SX 7497 8597.

Moretonhampstead Flush Bracket

Sloncombe was our first village en route and it was a very nice place to be. As with all picturesque Dartmoor hamlets this one was littered with wonderful thatched houses. We also saw a trough before heading up the lane to Meacombe Cottages.



The lane to the Cottages was wet and muddy and felt like it was never going to end until, after passing through a gate, we came into a clearing where we saw the first new tor of the day: Meacombe Rock. I named it as such because it sits near the Cottages and Farm. Whilst it resides on private land it can be viewed from the gate at SX 7319 8675.

Meacombe Rock

Meacombe Rock

Meacombe Rock lower outcrop

We retraced our steps back to Sloncombe where we came across a lovely stone trough and a ruined barn, at SX 73637 86165 and SX 73546 86094 respectively.

Sloncombe Trough

Sloncombe Barn

It was a short ascent up to the spine of Sloncombe Hill where we turned right to ascend further where we caught a glimpse of another private tor. Known in the locality as 'Popple Tor, this small outcrop is located at the 276m spot height as marked on OS maps.

We were tempted to walk across to the tor from the open gateway but given this is private land and is very open decided it would be best not to.

Popple Tor

Popple Tor

Dropping off the Hill now, still on the road, we came across two very nice slotted gateposts, granite roller and holed rock at the entrance to Meacombe Farm.

Slotted Gatepost at SX 72790 86533

Granite Roller at SX 72707 86663

Holed Rock at SX 72709 86670

Slotted Gatepost at SX 72636 86761

We were nearing the location of the Meacombe Kistvaen, a fantastic artefact located, unfortunately, on private land. The dense hedge meant we could not view it from the road until, at a gate, we caught sight of it and I took this opportunity to take a couple of zoomed shots.

Meacombe Burial Chamber

Meacombe Burial Chamber

Further along the road as we entered the edge of Cleave Wood, we noticed, to our right, a small tor so we deviated to it. I almost stood on a dead deer which wouldn't have been a good mood. They were shooting in the vicinity so we spent little time at what we named as Drewston Tor after the hamlet below. There is more granite beside the road.

Drewston Tor

Drewston Tor

Drewston Tor

The road descended to Drewston Cross. We turned left into a magnificent cutting at SX 7189 8756. It was soon after passing through this where I pointed out there might be a tor in the copse to our right, and sure enough, when Paul and Tim looked, there was!

This small copse is on the hill marked on Tithe Maps as 'Brock Hill', so Brock Hill Tor seemed a most appropriate appellation. Like Sloncombe Hill Tor this outcrop is deep into private land so you must view it from the lane below. Please don't get this Brock Hill confused with 'Brockhill' near Avon Dam.

Drewston Cross

Huge Cutting

Brock Hill Tor
Brock Hill Tor

We entered the beautiful hamlet of Great Weeke after passing Weekbrook Cottages and Mill where Paul spotted a benchmark (B.M.) at SX 71460 87596.

Weekbrook Cottages and Mill



Great Weeke

Yellam was up next, another wonderful hamlet. We were in search of another rockpile on private land, pointed out to us by Steve Grigg under the name of 'Yellam Tor', but we were a bit disappointed by what we saw: a small outcrop, part of which resembles a rubble tor, but how were we supposed to know unless we saw it? At least now we can dismiss it as a team knowing we've assessed the area. It was, however, a welcome distraction as it is in a lovely area.

Upon exiting the area for Ellacombe we inevitably spotted another gatepost, another stone trough and letterbox in the wall.

Yellam Tor from below. I'm not going to dismiss it entirely as it might be better up close... only issue is, it's private land!!

Yellam Tor from above

Yellam Trough at 71421 87006

Yellam Slotted Gatepost at SX 71389 87022

Yellam Letterbox at SX 71434 86991

It was a short, sharp ascent out of Yellam where we turned left to descend into the farms known as Higher and Lower Horselake. 

The path passed through trees between field boundaries and over a stream before, to our left, we noticed another one of Steve Grigg's spots: Grennawell or Greenawell which is a scattering of large granite rocks on the steep, opposing valley side. As they are deep into private land there was no hope of us accessing from the other side where we were earlier, so we had to satisfy ourselves with the view from here.

Grennawell comes from Tithe Maps with the corruption of 'Greenawell' likely being an OS invention.





Taking the road to Bovey Castle after passing the house at Ellacombe, we came upon the Guide Post at Week Cross. It is inscribed with 'C' for Chagford and, supposedly, 'M' for Moretonhampstead although there is evidence that it has been badly damaged.

Week Cross Guide Post

The road to North Bovey was very boring, having little interest en route, so I was actually quite pleased to spot Pound Rock, a small outcrop on the outskirts of the village. I was quite happy to head back into Moretonhampstead now, as was the plan, but my companions wanted to have a break despite the finish line being less than 2 miles away.

Pound Rock

If you know me you'll know I hate stopping in the middle of the walk as it slows things down and makes getting back up, especially after having a bite to eat, a challenge. Of course, the pub was going to be the Ring o' Bells, and just to add to my annoyance this pub was way too pretentious for us walkers, presenting as a posh restaurant; certainly not in line with what most Dartmoor pubs are like.

Tim checking out the menu

We sat outside for a drink and set back off, in a hurry, to explore some of the village's artefacts, including a cross, a mounting block and a trough.

North Bovey Cross

North Bovey Trough

Mounting Block with inscriptions

We took the road to Moretonhampstead, northward, passing Bovey Cross to enter the town from the south side. We still weren't at the end yet but Tim and Paul were craving another eatery, so I found myself at the Central Cafe which fortunately for us turned out to be a good decision.

I had cheesy chips which only cost me £2.65 which was very good value; the portion was good and, as usual, I smothered the dish in pepper granules - or perhaps that's an exaggeration. The food was served in a nice, rustic glass bowl which I liked, and I think Tim and Paul were equally as pleased with their meals as I was!

Bovey Cross

Bovey Cross B.M.

Nice Fingerpost

Cheesy Chips at the Central Cafe

As three happy customers we left the Cafe to end the walk, noticing a telegraph marker near the roundabout. A successful day with some interesting artefacts en route, I thank my companions Tim and Paul for their good company and for Tim who kindly dropped me back home.

Telegraph Marker

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