Sunday, 17 July 2016

Up North....

I regularly visit Meldon Reservoir.  Its proximity to the A30 makes it a convenient stopover to refresh on my frequent drives up country in recent years.  The narrow lane from Okehampton thick with Summer growth leads to a National Park car park and the smashing views around the reservoir here - an easily accessible and home to a unique island nature reserve.

My walk was to take me up the West Okement, with views North and West towards Cornwall. I had to dig deep in the family archives to find clues to justify a walk up here.  Yet I was keen to explore the hills above the - now well worn - trails around Meldon.

The weather was terrific.  Hardly a breath of wind.  My mind wandered, considering the path closure on the Western side of the reservoir.  A different circular route was required today.  I would head out to Snipers Gully, Fishcombe Water and Black Tor, returning via Longstone Hill.

I was surrounded by iconic Dartmoor features. The Slipper Stones, Fordsland Ledge, Black-a-tor Copse, High Willhays. Features which make the West Okement such a gem in a granite setting.  My walk finished with a sighting of another iconic feature of the West Okement valley.  The Ring Ouzel.  In 2014, there were an estimated 15 breeding pairs of Ring Ouzel on Dartmoor, the most Southerly population in the country.  I spotted one individual hopping amongst the clitter near Black Tor, only the second time I've ever seen this elusive bird. Their numbers have been in global decline for decades, vulnerable to climate change.  An action plan is in place to support them on Dartmoor.

Another fascinating day out all round.  Unknown distance walked, 11 boxes located.

Who says that my blog lacks imagination, by the way!  The North and South moor have so much in common!

Down South...

The car park at Harford Moor is not one I've visited much.  Certainly not in recent years.  The narrow lane from Ivybridge thick with Summer growth lead me to a rutted but refreshed parking area. No self-serve gate of old, but a cattle grid.  The National Park interpretation board remains intact.  This despite Harford Parish Council arson worries voiced prior to its installation 2 years ago.

My walk was to take me up the River Erme, with views South and West towards Plymouth.  Not far away from here is the topical village of Sparkwell, currently making headlines for the zoo's missing Lynx.  I had other cats to find though, amongst a host of boxes on a short route out to Sharp Tor and back.

The weather was terrific.  Perhaps a bit blowy, but not enough to prevent bearings.  My mind wandered off, considering possible walks which might bypass the New Waste closure.  Perhaps from Harford Moor Gate, I could descend to the River and cross at Piles Copse.

I passed the Money Pit, Piles Gate, the old clay pipeline, Redlake Tramway, Hobajons Cross.  Just some of the relics which help make the Erme valley such a gem in a granite setting.  My walk finished at a very different relic, and perhaps the most dilapidated of them all: the disused Butter Brook Reservoir.  I say disused, although South West Water - who withdrew it from auction in 2014 - reserve the right to extract water supplies from it irrespective of owner, says Tim Sandles in his Legendary Dartmoor article.

A fascinating day out all round.  Unknown distance walked, 16 boxes located.