There are occasions where I hate planning walks because I don't know where to go. Dartmoor is so huge it can become overwhelming at times. I had planned Higher White Tor from Postbridge and then, last-minute, decided to plan a route from Hart Tor on the North Moor - but I soon realised that this would entail the crossing of multiple fords which I wanted to avoid. Somehow, driving towards Postbridge anyway, I chose Hookney Down on the basis that it is an easy walking area full of interesting items.
Parking below Hookney Tor, we headed to the tor first, a magnificent set of outcrops sprawled over the south-west edge of the hill. Admittedly it's not a true summit tor as a tiny slab of bedrock consumed by a barrow sits on the top of the hill, but its southward view of Challacombe Bottom and the tin mines is striking and the outcrops are very characteristic.
The coldness really came through: within the first 5 minutes it became apparent that the temperatures were going to require layers and I am glad that I put four on, but Mum only two, albeit thicker coats. It certainly felt cooler than High Willhays in the snow last week - that blog post can be read here.
The barrow is a fabulous example and contains a tethering ring. The feature is described by Heritage Gateway as being some 20 metres wide and 2.4 metres high.
|Hookney Tor Modern Tethering Ring|
|Hookney Tor Tumulus|
We turned right, after waiting for two horse riders to pass (they were headed to West Coombe where the evil geese reside - that post here), following the beautifully constructed wall across Hookney Down to the wall corner where a benchmark lies. We then proceeded to King's Barrow where we passed five glider posts erected and used in WWII to stop gliders from landing in the area.
|B.M. 1567.7, SW facing, Hookney Down wall corner SX 70123 81397|
|Glider Post, Hookney Down, No.04 SX 70646 81219|
Dropping down the hill, we came to King Tor, a tor seldom visited. This was my third time here and the first with no ponies. It is a stunning viewpoint and picnic spot which compensate for the humble tor.
|King Tor Rock Basins|
Back at King's Barrow, we took a different track that I hadn't walked before. There are several heading southward and it did thin out a bit, but after passing a boundstone for North Bovey and Manaton it came to a more prominent track. The tracks in this area around the mire have moved around considerably, and not all on the OS Maps no longer exist on the ground.
Using my GPS, I navigated through various small tracks, passing over some more major ones to finally come to the very wide track up to Broad Burrow (or Barrow). I wanted to take Mum to Hameldown Top and Tor and headed to the former first that is crowned with a boundary marker for the Duke of Somerset - known otherwise as Broad Barrow.
|B.S on Hookney Down for North Bovey and Manaton SX 70937 81247|
|Broad Burrow, Hameldown Top|
We turned north, ignoring Hameldown Cross as we could see the rain approaching. Hameldown Tor was soon reached, but for the same reason we only stopped briefly and did not explore the western side that I have seen countless times before. It was about to chuck it down just like the last time I took Mum up here after school one day - some three and a bit years ago it must be at the time of writing.
|Hameldown Tor Trig Point and Cairn|
|Hameldown Tor Trig Point and Cairn|
The descent was always going to be steep, and of course it began to rain. That said, I still stay true to the point that the ascent is far worse!
We skirted the west side of Grimspound and took the contouring track back to the road and the car, but I did spot a magnificent tinners' hut in a small gully on the right side of the road looking north that had to be inspected.
Not a bad last-minute walk by me, and we were glad it was under 4 miles as the driving rain only continued and got worse.