Saturday, 23 August 2014

A short cut?

It has been years since I last went to Cut Hill, and I'd urge you to make the effort to get out there too.  Summer is the optimum time to visit this remote spot at the centre of the Northern moor.  The planned route involved going in from a different direction, not from the usual Postbridge or Baggator car parks, but from Fernworthy Reservoir.  I'd calculated that this was the closest car park to home within striking distance of the Hill.
I took a few choice paths in Fernworthy Forest to emerge on the slopes of Tom's Hill, taking the 'digger' path over Sittaford Tor and over to Statts House.  In the distance I could make out 2 diggers around Flat Tor Pool.  A surprise, since the August work was only due on the Summer Hill plateau.  I was too far away to see exactly what they were doing though.  I descended to Kit Steps and leapt the East Dart at the confluence with Cut Hill Stream.  Here, the letterboxing began.

My clue list was long.  With not many distant bearings utilised, it was a test of my memory of Cut Hill's landmarks and artefacts: including the pipe, cable, outcrop, rain gauge, guide stones and blocks.  This is a big hill, and I had about 6 hours to scour it.  One landmark I hadn't seen since its discovery was the Cut Hill stone row.  Dr Tom Greeves discovered Dartmoor's highest row up here in 2010.  

The Hill was very quiet today, and I saw just one other person all day (even the diggers were silent).  The walk took me down to Cut Lane Stream, and around to Foresters House.  Underfoot, the grass was long, and damp, and it made for treacherous walking at times.  With 3 hours till Sunset I found myself at Lamerton Lane considering the best way back.  My clues were all for Cut Hill, so I packed up my clues, map and compass and headed down to the Teign valley, following the course down to the confluence below Sittaford.  Another ascent over this Tor, and I was a short walk back to the forest.  Stopping to take some pictures of Grey Wethers in the warm dusk light.  The paths in Fernworthy are not as plentiful as the newest OS map suggests.  Which is a touch frustrating, in that options are limited, though it could be seen to be safer this way, with less chance of getting lost.

A cracking day all in all.  The views from Cut Hill's summit stretch from St Austell to the Blackdown Hills, with both coasts visible at Torbay and Tintagel.  A tricky, under-used route though from Fernworthy, but one for the intrepid.  About 15 miles walked, and 26 boxes found.  

Thursday, 7 August 2014


On the North-East corner of the Moor, nestled at the base of Meldon Hill is Chagford.  A neat and historic stannary town.  My most recent venture to the moor was here - enjoying the comfort of the Globe Inn to spend a night in the town.  Though I was in Chagford for explorations rather than letterboxing...

St Michael's Churchyard in Chagford is the resting place for the grandfather and founder of Dartmoor Letterboxing - James Perrott.  He died in May 1885, aged 81 in the town he called home.  Chagford parish's website records that the church was dedicated to St Michael the Archangel by Bishop Branscombe (of fellow Dartmoor landmark Branscombe's Loaf fame), who in 1261 was Bishop of Exeter.

James Perrott was a famous Dartmoor Guide, and is credited with taking amongst others, Charles Dickens on the route out to Cranmere Pool via Fernworthy.  Besides walking, Perrott was also a keen angler.

So it was for lunch that it was deemed appropriate to descend to the Teign Valley and the Anglers Rest public house.  The peaceful atmosphere on the deck at the waters edge is phenomenal. Watching Brown trout and dippers darting by.  En route, we passed the tented Castle Drogo.  I had never really considered how visible Castle Drogo was from all over the Eastern moor until this giant white wrap was placed over it in December. The Western Morning News call it the biggest tent in the world, and that if all the scaffolding poles were put end to end, they'd stretch 60 miles!  Despite being damaged by the Winter storms, the wrapping will stay in place till mid 2015, until the renovation work is complete.  I look forward to the grand unveil next year.