Friday 2 October 2020

Dartmoor: Warren House Inn to Belstone - Perambulation Fourth Leg (13.06 miles)

The Thirlstone at Watern Tor

This was the fourth leg of the Perambulation and a walk we were all looking forward to more than the others since it takes in some great areas and the most beautiful tor on the moor - and no, I'm not biased.

We set off from the Warren House Inn, though this time with the same members as the last walk, to go in search of an annoying conundrum about where exactly the King's Oven is located. This boundary point is either the cairn atop Water Hill (unlikely) or a ruin on the eastern slopes where we were. Near the v stones, there is a low, ruined structure which must be it.

King's Oven Possible Location SX 67521 81354

Vermin Trap with Two ‘V’ inscribed stones

We joined the Two Moors Way to get us to Hurston Row, a fine double stone row, before heading north to the Heath Stone and Fernworthy Reservoir.

Hurston Row

Hurston Row Terminal Stone SX 67320 82562

The Heath Stone

Fernworthy Reservoir

We crossed the footbridge and headed up onto Thornworthy Down to visit the tor of the same name, a stunning viewpoint and spot for a break.

Thornworthy Tor

Thornworthy Tor

Thornworthy Tor

Crossing a small stream and passing through a gate, we negotiated some cattle to reach our next checkpoint: The Longstone.

The Longstone

Over Shovel Down, we came to the wide track between Kes Tor and Long Ridge, although we didn't stay on it for long as the group had spotted a rock pair which reside on the boundary. One of these is inscribed 'GP' for Gidleigh Parish and was spotted by Amanda.

GP inscribed on Boundary Stone SX 65243 85458

GP inscribed on Boundary Stone SX 65243 85458

The route now was to Stone Tor, straddling a wall, to see the huge GP on top of the ruined tor. After failing to find the benchmark here, we continued over Dogleg Hill to Manga Rails where I noticed a plaque and Sheron lost her lens cap for her camera.

Stone Tor

Gidleigh Parish Boundary Mark on Stone Tor

Manga Rails Plaque SX 63994 86034

Manga Rails, Sheron crossing

It was quite a steep climb to Manga Rock, some 50 metres above, passing an interesting boulder en route. Manga Rock apart from having the common 'GP' is not much to get excited about, but the views are stunning over the North Teign by Batworthy.

Vein Rock below Manga Rock SX 63721 85819

Manga Rock

Manga Rock

Hugh Lake Ford SX 63382 85813

Hugh Lake Ford crossed, we made uphill to a track that heads to Hawthorn Clitter, although this soon becomes consumed by gorse and we enter territory where you can't see what's under your feet. The only dog with us, Bryony, was behind me which is good since I spotted an adder curled up and sunbathing in our path, but me warning/calling the others caused it to move into the gorse, but I still managed a couple of mediocre shots showing what I believe to be a female; more pale than others I have seen.

There are at least two boundary rocks amid Hawthorn Clitter, one bearing GP and another just a G.

Adder below Hawthorn Clitter

GP Boundary Rock, SE of Hawthorn Clitter

Hawthorn Clitter G Boundary Rock

Through a wall gap and we were at Watern Down Tor, an emergent tor brought to my attention by Bob Fitzpatrick. It is quite a substantial elongated rock face, but the reeds at its foot obscure its real size.

Watern Down Tor

Watern Down Tor

Watern Down Tor

Watern Tor never fails to disappoint, and it is still my all time favourite tor and I really can't fault it. The light was illuminating the horizontal layers perfectly and we sat down at The Thirlstone for lunch.

Watern Tor

The Thirlstone

The Thirlstone

The Thirlstone

Down to the Walla Brook we made our way downstream to Wild Tor Well, a boggy depression sitting below the impressive crescent clitter called Willtor or Wild Tor Clitter.

GP inscribed into The Thirlstone

Watern Combe

Wild Tor Clitter

Wild Tor Well SX 62731 87635

We took the track that runs in the col between the hill of Headon and Wild Tor, in the northerly direction of Hound Tor which has 'TP' inscribed onto its east face denoting Throwleigh Parish.

Hound Tor (Okehampton)

Hound Tor TP Inscription SX 62887 89010

Hound Tor TP Inscription SX 62887 89010

From here the route was extremely easy and well-known to all of us, heading northward once again to the White Moor Stone and Stone Circle, before Sheron and I took a quick detour off of Little Whit Hill to view the outcrop spoken of as Little Hound Tor.

White Moor Stone

White Moor Stone Circle

Little Hound Tor

Little Hound Tor

Little Whit Hill

Although the southerly approach to Cosdon is said to be the easiest, and this is believable when looking at the map, it is still a slog and unlike the northerly approach, the cairn comes into sight last-minute.

Cosdon Hill has its beacon and 360-degree summit views, but there are also remnants of a tor on its western and south-western slopes straddling the footpath due west to Horseshoe Ford and Queenie Meads.

Cosdon Beacon

Cosdon Hill Trig Point

Cosdon Hill

Cosdon Hill Outcrops

Instead of beeling back to Belstone, we agreed that heading west through the extensive tinners' workings to Horseshoe Ford would be more sensible with a good path taking you all the way there. It is a steep 200 metres descent but the views of the Belstone Ridge are great.

Tinners' Workings, Cosdon Hill West Shoulder SX 62794 91504

Horseshoe Ford

Horseshoe Ford

It was a leisurely stroll back into Belstone, though with a cheeky side visit to Holloway Parson Rock, also known as the Walrus Stone and Belstone Clanger. Birchy Lake is full of interesting items, including a stone seat, abandoned machinery and a post box.

Holloway Parson Rock

Holloway Parson Rock 'B' Inscription SX 62124 92389

Birchy Lake Abandoned Machinery SX 62012 93075

Birchy Lake Post Box SX 61986 93083

A cracking walk, and rather exciting to know that we only have one leg left before we have completed the entire route.

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