Thursday, 17 November 2016

Northern exposure Part 1

It has occurred that I haven't walked much since my declaration of love for Dartmoor Letterboxing in the Summer.  I sought to rectify this recently, with a commitment to visit some wild spots before the days became too short.  Walkham Head has become quite fashionable since the hobby of Dartmoor 365'ing has become a 'thing'.  John Hayward's 1991 book: 'Dartmoor 365' encouraged the exploration of each of Dartmoor's 365 square miles, providing a highlight, an item, a landmark or a story for every one.  The Dartmoor 365ing hobby has spawned a popular Facebook group.  It has also an associated game operated by Dartefacts.  Walkham Head Peat Pass is considered the only real highlight of grid square 57 81.  Indeed, there isn't too much else here.  Or is there??

Boots on, and Baggator bound, I made the familiar journey to west Dartmoor on a bright and breezy day.  I had many boxes to find on a circular walk out to Tavy Hole, and returning via Standon Hill.  After a long absence, even the long slog up to Lynch Tor was enjoyable!  From beside the flagpole, the views were as incredible as can be.  The absence of haze allowed for distant points of Cornwall to be visible.  Limsboro cairn is shrinking though.  According to, between 1979 and 2004, the diameter of this rock pile went from 22.5m to 14.3m.  I neglected to bring my tape measure, so cannot vouch for any further reduction.

Where have the rocks gone?  Are they sheltering Dartmoor Letterbox sites? Er, no.  Progress in locating my list of clues was steady but not amazing.  The Thief likes this tor.  Perhaps they were migrating to Ken's Cairn in nearby Black Lane.  Er, again, no.  As you'll see from the picture in my previous post.  It is growing but, not to that extent.

My walk took me East now to Turf House.  This curious series of banks and standing stone, all that remains of it.  I was surprised to find a box that lay unfound for 3 years.  Although, that I required all my skill and keys to dig it out of it's peaty hole, suggested otherwise.  The recent dry weather allowed for a direct walk across the usually boggy river head here to the peat pass.  The going was rough, but not tough.  This grid square, which John Hayward describes as "desolate" in "dreary weather", but "invigorating" in Summer sunshine, certainly resembled the latter today.  However after finding a few Letterboxes out here, I became acutely aware of the setting sun.

A warm glow fell upon the scene, which encouraged photography, but also quickened my step back towards the car.  I wanted to complete my 'circle' which involved the East bank of Baggator Brook and Standon Farm.  Suffice to say that I made it, and was back at the car just in time for sunset.

A cracking day all in all, with 21 boxes found, and the appetite for more Northern exposure well and truly whetted.

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