The mist was thick, the temperature low. That I'd found the Tor at all without a GPS was something of a miracle, and the walk had taken a little longer than usual. Hopes that I'd rise above the cloud up here were dashed, and instead of looking out on the glorious vista that I remember, I could only see the far side of the outcrop. As Letterboxing goes, these first 2 hours had frankly been a disappointment. The one box that I could search for, given its limited clue - was missing.
I decided to cut my losses and head for Hangingstone Hill. If the mist were clear, and the sun was to shine (as forecasts led me to believe would eventually happen), it would start at the highest point.
I crossed Watern Combe and headed West for the track between Wild Tor and high Hill's summit hut. I stumbled on a letterbox and my day improved a bit. As I reached the track and set off South, I glimpsed patches of snow. My day improved a touch more. I could handle a patch of snow. Then the cloud started to clear..
To start, I could just make out the Thirlstone, then Wild Tor, and the lone fir tree between them. A touch of sunlight, and the scene warmed up. Bearings achievable, I could find letterboxes again. Then I found a moving box. Yes - a moving box! I haven't found a moving box since 2009, on a walk around Sharpitor. By now the views were extensive. The day was improving at quite a pace!
One of my main reasons to do this walk was to visit the cist on Whitehorse Hill. This recent discovery - only made when part of the burial chamber fell out of the peat bank forcing archaeologists to excavate the site - was subject to a major exhibition in Plymouth Museum last year. The contents of the site radically altered our view of Dartmoor in the Bronze Age. The discovery of artefacts made of organic material which would have usually disintegrated after 4000 years in acidic soil were fascinating. Textiles, leather, wooden ear studs, amber, shale, tin studs and bead - the earliest evidence ever found of metal working in the region. This was a burial of significance in the bronze age, and also in the 21st century as we try to make sense of our past.
After reflecting at the spot for a while, I noted rain clouds building far to the West, and left the hill. Making tracks for Hew Lake, I decided on a direct path for the car. I must commend the Dartmoor Rangers for replacing all the Manga Rails since my request in my blog post last year. They are fine new set, and ready for any storm, I reckon!
I wandered into the car park at Scorhill at sunset. As Letterboxing days go, I'd had better. I'd only found 11 boxes and walked a very long way for them. Perseverance is always rewarded, and this day was no exception.