A Letterbox walk!! At last!!
Eager as ever to get out Dartmoor Letterboxing, as well as visiting somewhere slightly different, I've been building up to this one since the Meet.
A charity walk - sited in aid of the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust - was out around Bellever Tor and Lakehead Hill. A unique area given: i) the interaction between conifers and granite in the landscape, ii) a wealth of bronze age antiquities, many of which are in incredibly well preserved and, iii) a location in the middle of the Moor with 360-degree views of higher peaks.
I began my walk, as the highly detailed charity walk instructions prescribed: at Postbridge. I was not alone at the car park. However, within moments, I was, as the only other car owner walked their dog through the Forestry Commission gate, and drove off. So I was in no doubt that the forest paths would be peaceful, my Letterboxing undisturbed and deer sightings would be probable.
Conditions were favourable. The going underfoot was wet. The air was dry and crisp. The wind northerly and brisk. I wandered up to Kraps Ring feeling very positive.
The route takes a path straight over Lakehead Hill - I consider this a rather neglected place on Dartmoor by Letterboxers. Plantations and trees have almost claimed the whole hill, but what holds them at bay is the large quantity of kistvaens, settlements, stone rows and circles found here. It is well explored, preserved and protected, which is good to see.
Beyond Lakehead Hill, I came across the ancient Lych Way, running from Bellever to Lydford. One of Dartmoor's most legendary of long distance paths. My route didn't follow it, but headed straight on to Bellever Tor's Western flanks. I had no time to visit the summit as I last did back in 2010. Instead I stuck rigidly to the charity walk's notes, and made for the wall which separated Bellever from Laughter Tor. It was a cracking walk really, which led you into the plantation on occasions. Combined with a curious light - enhanced with an oncoming rain shower as I encountered - meant that although the spruce forest is relatively artificial, the walker could form a real connection with the trees. A real connection with the terrain inside the forest too. Deep water filled ruts, brambles and ants too!
On my return towards the car, I spotted a pair of deer outside the forest. I noticed them before they noticed me - which rarely happens to me. They bounded off as I reached for my camera, having watched them for a few seconds. I took a series of forestry tracks and found myself back at the car. Chilled in more than one way. Peace and solitude certainly found. As well as 11 boxes. Distance walked unknown.