Thursday, 20 August 2015

Firm favourite

I think I have found a new favourite place on the moor!  Come to think of it, I have many favourites, but this one, not previously among them, has possibly just edged it.  I hadn't previously considered Rippon Tor to be a regular peak to visit.  Situated beyond a wall in a 'forbidden zone' for Dartmoor Letterboxes, I felt little desire to make the trek.  That said, I've always appreciated the Tor: A recognisable landmark to the East, with a summit trig point that features in clues up and down the moor.

My most recent walk took me to the area around Bag Tor (another forbidden tor) and Saddle Tor - so I took the chance in the sunshine to wander up to Rippon and see what I could see.  And, wow, what a view! Rippon Tor is quite high, relative to the surrounding peaks.  At 473 metres, it looks down on a vast swathe of Devon.  Off to the South, cargo vessels in the channel could be seen.  Lyme Bay to the East was visible, as were the hills of Exmoor.  The Dartmoor skyline was equally impresive: from Penn Beacon above Plymouth past Princetown, Hameldown, on up to Meldon Hill above Chagford.  Below me were the far busier highpoints of Haytor, yet I sat in crowd-free bliss for nearly an hour soaking up the sight.

I don't resent the lack of Letterboxing on Rippon Tor,  There are plenty of items and artefacts to hunt out up there.  Dartmoor's only incumbant stone cross carved in relief into the granite bedrock is on the summit here.  Millstones, cairns and the Nutcracker make worthwhile distractions.

My Letterbox walk garnered 14 stamps including a couple that had gone unfound for several months.  This is surely an area that deserves further visits soon!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Damp

In my July 2015 post: "New clues: A walk of snipe", I included a warning, namely
"Please, please use common sense as you walk around between 4 and 6.  The dry season does not make the terrain any easier!  The pools around Rattlebrook Head and Lyd Head are deep, but can be very easily circumnavigated.  You have been warned!"
In hindsight, I realised that these words weren't that in-keeping with clue releases of mine or others, so I thought I would just provide a short explanation.  In two previous series, including last year's 'Depths of Winter' boxes I have read comments written in my visitors books, critical of the soggy route that the walk took.  I didn't take offence at the comments, but was left feeling that they were, perhaps, a little unnecessary.  In both previous occasions, as in my most recent series, the wet ground in question could very easily be circumnavigated.  Dartmoor is inherently wet underfoot.  The Dartmoor we know and love is what it is because of the environment, the weather, the weathering caused by water and ice.  I appreciate anyone finding my Letterboxes, I hope that my routes are not dangerous or unpleasant, and would hope that general common sense is applied when out on the moor, reading the lie of the land, taking the best path.

I have had one email already from a Letterboxer who admitted wilfully ignoring my advise and sinking up to their waist in a bog at Rattlebrook Head.

Take care out there!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

August: Reasons to be cheerful


August is a month to revel in, to enjoy and exploit on Dartmoor.  Bird breeding has ended, and this will delight Letterboxers who have been detered from certain areas of the moor by the authorities due to the nesting habits of some rare - and not so rare - Dartmoor birdlife.  Lambing season too has officially ended, and this will please the dog owners who can now ditch the short leads, and (responsibly) let there dog roam free - until next March at least.

The MOD are off for their annual month long break from training in the three Military Ranges. No live firing will take place during August, therefore no Range will be subject to day or night closure.  Therefore, no mistimed North moor letterbox walks!  Also, the days are still long - sunset at the end of the month is still around 8pm - perfect for distant North Moor jaunts.  Met Office data indicates August has, on average, the driest and warmest weather of the year in the South West.  Which after the dreary July we've just had, is most welcome.

If you need further reason to visit Dartmoor this month: August sees many events take place. Okehampton and Chagford shows, and Dartmoor Folk Festival to name just three.  Sure, the kids are off school, and the roads are busier, but what better excuse do you need to grab some Letterbox clues and delve deep into the moor on a Summer's day.  Go forth and explore!