Sunday, 6 December 2020

Dartmoor: Dinger Tor and High Willhays

High Willhays

Heavy snow was forecast for Thursday night and all day Friday, but these are weekdays when I am at school so I had to hold out hope that there would be some remaining on Saturday. The forecast for Saturday was undecided; it kept changing from heavy rain to sleet, snow and even sunshine. The only point of call was to just get up to my desired location and hope for the best, which is exactly what happened.

Due to second lockdown, I had set myself a boundary at which I could not exceed to stay 'local'; what exactly that was defined as, local that is, was a bit unclear, but my boundary was anything north-west of the B3212 road was out of bounds, as was the Cadover Bridge area. I stuck to this throughout, but it did mean that I was missing the North Moor and given that is where High Willhays, the highest point, is situated, it only made sense to head for there because any snow would be up on that summit, and now that restrictions were lifted, I had no hesitation in venturing up there with Mum.

Driving along the A30 from Cheriton Bishop, seeing a dry Cosdon was disappointing, and I was no longer optimistic, but regardless it was my aim to park up below West Mill Tor and head out.

West Mill and Rowtor were both devoid of snow, but I stuck to the plan and headed into the fog where, halfway to Dinger Tor and near Curtery Clitters, I realised I had left my map and compass in the car - silly me! I hate not having it as although I predominantly use GPS when needed (it has to be said), I always want a backup and especially in mist it would be quite dangerous to be without it. I thought about going back to retrieve it but figured the majority of this walk was on good, clear tracks. Yes, under normal circumstances do not take that advice!

Dinger Tor Road

Dinger Tor Road

Dinger Tor Road Quarry of Sorts SX 58886 89363

Frozen Ice, Dinger Tor Road

The track, ascending, began to enter snow-ridden grass on either side and every once in a while the clag would lift to reveal a dry Black-a-ven Brook riverbed and East Mill Tor. It was evident that choosing the highest land was a good choice.

It was amazing that 100m above the car park, at a distance less than 1 mile from the car, we were on a track between areas of snow some 2-5 cm deep in places, and it only became deeper as we progressed along the track where Dinger Tor came into sight, first passing a large group of Ten Tors (or DofE) students.

Trigged Rock, North of Dinger Tor SX 58790 88713

Snow by Dinger Tor Road

I love Dinger Tor because it has lovely views (when you can see them) and the tor itself is an impressive wall of rock boasting superb horizontal jointing.

Dinger Tor

Dinger Tor

Dinger Tor

Dinger Tor

Dinger Tor

Dinger Tor

I honestly wasn't expecting this much snow, but when the cloud briefly lifted exposing Lints Tor we could see that it only remained on the very highest hills because Lints was dry as a bone. This is where the walk became a little bit sketchy because it was new territory on a track I hadn't walked before. 

Thanks to the snow, which much prefers grassy tracks than gravel ones such as the one we just walked, the path was not discernible and we kept meandering until we eventually found the obvious footprints of the route up to High Willhays. That, and the white line ascending, were the only giveaways and I am yet again grateful for the presence of my GPS confirming we were on the right track.

Leaving Dinger Tor on Dinger Ridge

Dinger Ridge and the path that has disappeared

Snowy Path on Dinger Plain

Snowy Path on Dinger Plain

It was a chilly ascent and the wind although light created a tense atmosphere alerting us to the lack of civilisation here. It really was barren and beautiful, a complete contrast to the lower dry tors below us.

High Willhays was reached, looking great in the snow, and I also located the benchmark again. This tor does receive some bad press for being insignificant in comparison to Yes Tor, the lower neighbour to the north, and whilst it is the tor is still of some merit and its closely jointed outcrops running north to south are plentiful.

High Willhays

High Willhays

Millie Rock Hopping on High Willhays

B.M. 2033.0, NNW facing, High Willhays SX 58021 89208

High Willhays

Hampster Tor was next along the ridge, the last tor to visit since it was getting cold for both us and the dogs and I was just happy to have found snow! There is some dispute about this tor's location which can be read here to save me explaining.

Steve Granger also noted a ring of stones and a pool on the east side.

Hampster Tor

Hampster Tor

Hampster Tor

High Willhays Ridge Ring/Bank (with Pool) SX 58012 89436

We dropped off the Roof of Devon to join the military road to Red-a-ven Ford (East). We crossed a few metres downstream as the ford was high, finding a narrow part of the stream.

Red-a-ven Ford (East)

It was also here where the snow ceased to exist and, just like that, we were back on dry land with an easy wander back to the car park.

Car Park below West Mill Tor

Rowtor

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