Friday, 6 March 2020

Dartmoor: Lustleigh to Holwell Rocks (Part 1)

Harton Rock

This was going to be a mega tor walk, hence the 'Part 1', taking in 19 new tors and rocks for me - surely the most new ones I've done in a single walk for a long, long time?! I had been meaning to do this walk ages ago, last year in fact, but the difficult terrain had put me off going alone. I saw this walk as an opportunity, given the time of year when the bracken is low, to attempt it alone and see how I get on, hiking more miles than I was anticipating; almost 11.

Heavy rain hit early in the morning and even woke me up, making me question the suitability of actually doing a walk in Lustleigh Cleave and surrounding areas, but I decided to go anyway and expect muddy footpaths and woodland.

Mum dropped me off on the outskirts of Lustleigh with my first point of call being the war memorial in the village with a good view of 'Lower Mapstone', a huge boulder in a field that I named for want of an official one.

Lower Mapstone

Lower Mapstone

Lustleigh Village Memorial SX 78520 81358

Underwood

I passed Underwood when it began to hail pretty hard, only small hailstones mind you, on my way up to Pathfields Tor.

Pathfields Tor

Pathfields Tor

Pathfields Tor

Pathfields North-West Tor was next up, a grand tor and one I was pleased to revisit. The path below it was very muddy and slippery in places. I'm glad I had my walking poles to support me!

Pathfields North-West Tor

Pathfields North-West Tor

Pathfields North-West Tor

Slotted Gatepost and Wooden Gate SX 78073 81464

The path from here to Lower Combe was muddy and narrow, but enjoyable nonetheless with two outcrops en route, the largest of which came first and presents as a huge overgrown tower of granite.

Unnamed Outcrop No.1 SX 77973 81542

Unnamed Outcrop No.1

Unnamed Outcrop No.1

Unnamed Outcrop No.2 SX 77891 81696

Unnamed Outcrop No.2

There were burning what I can only presume was wood at Lower Combe but this didn't detract from the beautiful Wray Brook that runs to the south. It is a wonderful spot where the rocky path clings onto the Brook after crossing it on a small, single clapper bridge and I took the opportunity to slow my pace for a few minutes to absorb the sounds and sights.

Lower Combe Clapper Bridge SX 77798 81746

Wray Brook

The path began ascending west towards Cothland where it came to a split: left was the continued public right of way over a wooden stile but to my right, where there was no stile, was a minor path that I knew would take me below the rocks of Cothland Tor. I gather this is private land, however, there is no signage nor are there any barriers to make it hard for one to access this tor.

After bagging it, I retraced back to the stile. No harm done in my eyes.

Cothland Tor

Cothland Tor

Cothland Tor

Cothland Tor

The footpath climbed a small set of stairs atop which were two small slotted gateposts. Reaching the road by Hammerslake I turned right to follow it uphill to Cothland Barn and the rocks of the same name, or at least the only accessible outcrop which reminds me of Parson's Brown Loaf; a huge boulder beside the tarmac!

Slotted Gatepost SX 7758 8170

Cothland Barn Rocks

Cothland Barn Rocks

Cothland Barn Rocks - you can bag it from the car!

Further up the hill to my right lay a dilapidated stile where, after climbing it, I would see my next bag: Harton Rock, a large, rounded boulder that from some angles resembles The Giants' Marble. Photos don't do this justice.

Harton Rock Stile

More Granite in neighbouring field

Harton Rock

Harton Rock

I retraced back down the road passing some daffodils where I saw the top of a huge boulder in the private gardens of Cothland Barn. It's amazing what you can spot when you're walking the other way as I didn't spot this when ascending.

Daffodils

Cothland Barn

Cothland Barn Rocks outcrop on private land. Viewed from the road.

At the bend in the road, I turned right up a set of steps to step over a crescent stile at Hammerslake, crossing a junction of paths to ascend into the woodland where I was met with an imposing set of granite steps hugging a mossy wall.

Beyond this, I stumbled across two magnificent slotted gateposts, one of which was utilising a boulder which had its own hangar!

Crescent Stile, Hammerslake SX 77406 81680

Steps below Hammerslake Tor SX 77317 81630

Slotted Gateposts SX 77304 81595

Slotted Gatepost with Iron Hook

A further ascent saw me visit the spectacular Hammerslake Tor so named by Paul Buck as it resides high above the hamlet of the same name. Sometimes confused as an outlier of Sharpitor, which sits above, the large cave in this outcrop is sometimes referred to as 'Donkey Cave' - for what reason I do not know.

Hammerslake Tor

Hammerslake Tor

Donkey Cave

Sharpitor is a right old jumble of granite on the spur of the hill with its best section being the south side that I explored last time. I particularly like the view out towards Hound Tor from the higher path at SX 77113 81524.

Sharpitor

Sharpitor

Sharpitor

Sharpitor

An outlying pile of Sharpitor on the western side is known as 'West Sharpitor'.

West Sharpitor

West Sharpitor

West Sharpitor

West Sharpitor

And that concludes Part 1; in Part 2 I head into new territory proper to bag the remaining tors at the top of Lustleigh Cleave before heading into Neadon Cleave.

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