Thursday 21 September 2023

Dartmoor: A Hot Walk to Cater's Beam (11.48 miles)

Fox Tor (Fox Tor Mires)

The following account is taken from my post on the DARTMOOR 365 Facebook group on 07/09/23:

One Tuesday in September it was very hot. Naturally, I always seem to choose the most exposed areas when it's like this. I set off from Whiteworks and, after crossing the Strane, ascended Strane Hill. On the crest of the hill I turned right to find the DPA stones, which delineate the proposed reservoir boundary. The Dartmoor Preservation Association purchased the land here from South West Water in 1985 with funds secured by the late Miss M. Loveday Trahair. Read more here.

DPA Stone, Swincombe, No.03

This, however, is absolutely awful terrain, with evidence that it is rarely grazed. This made walking across the tussocks incredibly difficult and perilous. Finally out of the worst of it, I passed through the Geoffrey Sayer Gate and made my way past some tinners' buildings to Sam Parr's House. How lucky Sam Parr was to have a house (tinners' hut) named after him! Just below this the River Swincombe starts to bubble and as one approaches the exciting river rages over massive boulders. This is a sublime spot, nestled within a partially enclosed valley. The Swincombe is an underrated river which, for its short course, has much to offer the walker. In light of the warmth, I took this opportunity to cool off.

Sam Parr's House

The Boiler, River Swincombe

I took my time crossing Headweir Ford and found the other DPA stones over equally appalling terrain. I was on the far north-west flank of Ter Hill (Terril) now and I'm sure this eminence has something against me! I followed the wall up to Mount Misery Cross, arguably one of the finest moorland crosses, with a phenomenal view across Foxtor Mires and beyond. Nearby are the two Terril Posts, SW and NE, where I took lunch on the latter.

Mount Misery Cross

One of the crosses on Terril

It was continuing to get warm as I walked across P11 Ter Hill to Q12 Aune Head. The head of the Aune, or Avon, is a special place, a shallow depression where water springs up from glorious bog plants. If you like seclusion come here because you are in complete isolation, protected on all sides by grand hills. Of note at the head is a tinners' hut and the Luckcombe Stone. I stayed well away from the mire.

Aune Head

Luckcombe Stone

Naker's Hill

Cater's Beam tin workings

Wollake North Post

I followed various paths and no paths (!) across the north edge of Q11 Naker's Hill, which is a large hill with more than one summit. I walked through tin workings that might be Cater's Beam to Q10 Wollake North Post, sometimes called 'Cater's Beam' but most certainly isn't. Here, at the head of Wollake (Blacklane Brook), you can look south towards Three Barrows and Sharp Tor, a desolate tract of moorland consisting of much wet terrain which is a haven for wildlife and bog plants; or north where the Central Basin provides a brief pause in height before the soaring hills and tors of North Dartmoor are noticed stretching off in the distance.

Path to Fox Tor

    Fox Tor (Fox Tor Mires)

Little Fox Tor

I followed Black Lane into Fox Tor Girt and made my way up to Fox Tor, where limited shade was sought. Next was Little Fox or Yonder Tor, with fabulous views like its neighbour, and the incised cross in Whealham (Wheal Anne) Bottom. I crossed Nun's Cross Ford and sought further shade at Nun's Cross Farm. P9 Nun's or Siward's Cross was passed. Clearly the heat was getting to me because I passed the right-hand turn I needed to take. Not to worry, I took the second one. I thought I'd follow the O9 Devonport Leat around Peat Cot Hill back to the car. This was mostly simple, although there were sections where I was on the edge of the retaining wall because of the dense reeds.

Siward's Cross

Devonport Leat

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