Friday, 18 November 2011

A simple riddle

Its construction kept the Yelverton to Princetown railway line operational for 2 years until 1956
It is less than twice the height of the world's tallest living tree
It is the 63rd highest structure in the UK

Can you guess what it is yet?

We braved the strong Westerly wind and headed up to North Hessary to search a small number of letterboxes, of which we only found three. None on our list were new boxes, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised, on such a visible, popular and accessible Tor.

It is a unique peak in the Park. Dartmoor author Eric Hemery notes how the hill bridges the high ground of Northern and Southern Dartmoor, and this provides a tremendous view in all directions. From Shell Top in the South, Rippon Tor to the East and High Willhays to the North. As well as a huge expanse of Cornwall to the West. It was for this reason that the BBC selected North Hessary Tor as the location for the TV Mast, although TV is no longer its main broadcasting purpose.
PS: Thanks Wikipedia for those facts!

Thursday, 17 November 2011


The latest walk of ours - a beautiful walk - was a loop of Teignhead Farm. Starting at the end of the road at Fernworthy, and taking the 20 minute amble through the plantation to Langridge Gate. The wind was much lighter than it was on our last visit here. As we neared the open moor, we glimpsed deer on the side-tracks, and through the trees, and were able to stop and watch them graze.

Upon reaching the gate, we set off South for Grey Wethers, before climbing up to Sittaford Tor. As we ascended, the morning mist cleared and the sun shone warmly. On the summit of Sittaford we sat and rested. On the hillside opposite, we saw a group already stomping up to Quintin's Man. They were to be the only other people we saw all day.
WITC was heading in a different direction though. Winneys Down was our destination, and our success letterboxing here meant our plan to extend the walk West to Kit Rocks was scrapped on the spot. Instead, it was North next to Quintins Man and Manga Hill.

We were treated to the sumptuous Autumn sunset colours on Manga Brook. With the light quickly fading we were forced to make a hasty exit from the moor, thus avoiding a torchlight forest stroll.

10 miles and 28 boxes. 15000 boxes is getting ever closer...

Monday, 7 November 2011

Monday, 7th November 2011

There are a few places on the moor that WITC has never been before. Obviously, we haven't set foot on ever square inch of every square mile - that'd be impossible - but every grid square has been covered, except one. Until today.

Standon Hill. We were keen to visit before, but had neither time or clues to justify the trip to the peak. Today was different, and with live firing not due to close Willsworthy range until tomorrow, we took our chance.

There aren't too many letterboxes to be found on Standon Hill, but there is plenty of potential. The views to the South and West are tremendous, and as you circumnavigate the Hill North and West, the grand Tavy Cleave awaits. WITC has not hid their love of this valley, and to view it from the unfamiliar East bank was extraordinary.

The mist descended during the afternoon, as the chill wind of the weekend had dropped. In fact, our walk was cut short by the lack of visibility. 7 miles covered, 12 boxes found.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sunday, 6th November 2011

We could only spare the afternoon this Sunday, but since walking conditions were perfect, We headed for the Newleycombe Valley, out to Older Bridge, returning via Crazywell Pool. A PDSA charity walk has been sited in a loop of the valley, but we extended the route to cover more of the Northern bank exploring the hillsides between Drivage Bottom and the Devonport Leat Aquaduct.
Parking among the crowds at Norsworthy Bridge close to the shores of Burrator Reservoir, it was in warm sunshine that we set off. The PDSA walks never fail to disappoint, and all stamps were present and correct today. We were making great progress on the route, but then made the error of deviating over Cramber Tor to Raddick Hill. Here we had far less success, and found ourselves rapidly running out of daylight. Sunset is at just 4.45pm at the moment, which feels unseasonably early!

Indeed, Summer was on our minds when we studied Burrator water levels from the road on the drive in. confirms that (as of Oct 30th) Burrator stood just 68% full (compared to 89% full at this point last year).

Our photo shows just a few of today's collection of stamps. We will endeavour to get out boxing again tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Saturday, 5th November 2011

"A keen Northerly wind" was forecasted, and that is exactly what we experienced on today's walk. Starting at Blackaton Cross near Cadover Bridge, we headed due East passing Hexton Tor, Shell Top and Broadall Gulf. Our destination was the Upper river Yealm. The Upper Yealm valley is usually deserted of people, but the tinners workings, Steps and Rocks provide ample interest and subject matter for letterboxes.

As Dartmoor's rivers go, the Yealm is a pretty minor affair. Its only 12 miles long, which is short compared to the other source to sea rivers such as the Erme (17 miles), Plym (20 miles) and Teign (32 miles).

Recent rainfall has made the catchment area boggy again. The Redlake walk of the last post was notable by how dry the moor was becoming after a long Summer, but today WITC was suddenly regretting not proofing the walking boots more recently. Our climb out of the valley was proceded to the summit trig of Pen Ridge, or the un-named hill top North of Broadall Gulf. Here, the 360 degree views are as superb as you'd see anywhere on Dartmoor. From here, we surveyed the view South. A wide panorama from Burgh Island to South East Cornwall. We returned to the car following the line of HWB (Hentor Warren Bound) stones passing above Hen Tor (pictured). 13 miles covered, and 19 boxes found.