Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Battle plans

The Dartmoor training areas are set for 10 years of dramatic change of use according to the latest draft of the MOD's Integrated Rural Management Plan.

"Soldiers are taught to be considerate of others with whom they share Dartmoor" the plan states, with maps expected to to be drawn up showing areas of high wildlife sensitivity, and then issued to the armed forces.

As part of the effort to minimise the threat of erosion, signficant deterioration in features and ensure the safety of populations of native species, there are plans to improve tracks and cut back bracken and shrub.

To reduce the visual impact of the military, many MOD features will be moved, or combined elsewhere. One of the priority tasks, the plan says, is to remove Yes Tor flagpole.

Others involve moving Great Mis Flagpole to below the skyline, and making Black Down Flagpole temporary.

Holming Beam is due for a renewal since the buildings are coming to the end of their useful life.

One thing is for certain, if you have a clue with a bearing on a piece of MOD property, stand by for change.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Simply the best

The favourite haunt of WITC is without doubt the area of Watern Tor, Stone Tor and Kes Tor. We were delighted to take advantage of a window in the weather and return there on a recent walk.

Its a special place for us because of its unusual granite formations, its extensive views and its distance from WITC's home. I don't think we would be so fond of the place, if it were just down the road.

Parking below Kes, taking the grassy route towards Fernworthy forest before heading North across the Teign near Manga Rails. Up to Watern and the Thirlstone, which is amazing piece of geology up close, then descending to Scorhill Circle and down the road towards Gidleigh.

A track leads through the woods here, past Gidleigh Tor hidden in the trees, over the Teign again, and up to the car.

It was a successful letterbox walk too. 34 boxes found, and one first-in-a-book.

Friday, 10 September 2010

A WITC new series...

Who Is The Challenger is considering putting out a letterbox series. It has yet to be decided if this would be a walk in a single area, or series across the moor. It has also to be decided if this would be Word of Mouth or go straight to the updates.

In the meantime we have to think of a subject matter for the set... We don't want to repeat something that has already been done. Equally we want to make the set desirable and worth finding. Ideas we've had so far include:

Trigger Happy. A series of the trigged rocks of the moor.

Cave Dwellers. Celebrating all the caves on the moor.

A Year in the Life. As Dartmoor National Park Authority prepares to celebrate it's 60th anniversary in 2011, a stamp for every year with an occasion to remember.

Hare Round Beardown. The Beardown Tor's ridge is full of interest yet so rarely visited till now due to the lack of boxes.

Modern Classics. The Cranmere Pools of the 21st Century immortilised.

The 'Rocky Hollow' Picture Show. Nuff said.

We'd love your ideas and thoughts. Email us:, reply to this blog post, or send us a message via

Sunday, 5 September 2010

"Better a bad day on the hill...

than a good day in the office" as the saying goes.

WITC tested this theory out last week in the Erme and Yealm valleys. With the haze thick enough to cut with a knife, and the boxes hard to come by, it was not a great day's letterboxing.
We started, as ever, at New Waste. Its a useful starting place though the walk up Stalldown Barrow from there always is an unwelcome start to the day. Beyond Hillsons House comes the great view and walk down to Downings House where surprises are guaranteed. A chance encounter with a plump young fox which WITC flushed out from the deep grass.

North through unvisited territory of Bledge Brook and on to the Kiss-In-The-Ring stone circle. Also known as The Dancers. This is a part of the fascinating and unique past of Dartmoor. The stone row that runs North from here is said to be the longest prehistoric stone row in the world. Its more than 2 miles long, and is either Neolithic or Bronze age - so potentially up to 11000 years old.

Turning for home, we return via the Yealm's East bank, and seeing the Hawnes & Dendles Waste on the opposite bank made us remember the great plantation that used to be here, and now a possession of the Dartmoor Preservation Association.

It sure beat a good day in the office, although we only gathered 18 stamps for our trouble.