The first thing that strikes me as I exit the car after the long drive from home is the cold. It’s a four-layer, hat and gloves sort of cold. I soon warm up as I stride onto the hill in pursuit of my first objective: the Coffin Stone. I top a small rise and see nothing. Out come the laminates from my tor recognition manual. Nothing remotely looking like the picture in view.
The words on the map don’t help either, spread out over a 300m span, and placed differently on the 1:25k and 1:50k maps. I realise I’m too far up the hill and head back down towards the road a bit. No sign, and this first target has absorbed too much time already. The search is abandoned for now.
I contour around the hill as my next target, Vag Hill, is low down on the other side of the down. Even so I find I’m too high and have overshot it. I zigzag down the hill through dead bracken and the odd bit of gorse, but still there’s no sign. I follow a sheep track for a short while and all of a sudden my phone makes a noise. Adventure Bot thinks I’m close as he’s said I’ve found the Vag.
I go down the hill and stumble across the clitter. Just below, the larger rocks that comprise the rock formation of Vag Hill. A careful descent is needed down the steep slope to get a closer look.
This little hunt has eaten up a whole wad of time, and I begin to think I won’t complete the whole route I’d planned. I get on with the walk and the tricky task of finding Luckey Tor. I ascend the hill a little way so that I can contour above the tree line. Even so, there is much weaving around gorse bushes.
Crossing Rowbrook involves a steep descent to the stream, good use of balance and poise and the ability to quickly proceed through a boggy streamside. I find myself locked between a barbed wire fence and impenetrable gorse. The barbed wire fence looks much the better option. I’m quick about it, I have to stray outside of the access land and within sight of the farmhouse to make progress but twenty yards or so further on, I’m able to regain the safe side and walk down to find the tor. A track through bracken takes me to a tor that isn’t terribly impressive as I’m above it. There’s a hell of a lot of it below though.
The walk back up the hill and along to Mel Tor is a lot less problematic, and I’m soon perched on the top taking a break and getting the first decent view of the walk. Able to see where I am headed now, I plot a course along the Two Moors Way, seeing how close I can get to Bel Tor, and whether a sneaky raid might be possible. I get close enough for Social Hiking to record the bag, but my way to actually touch it is barred by a roped up gate and barbed wire.
Instead I head along the road for Sharp Tor, a steep pull up the side bringing me to the rocks and exposing me to a strengthening and cold breeze. Across the depression I can see the car and off to one side a weakening sun – I’m not going to get over the road to the other half of the walk today.
I descend to Little Sharp and the walk is almost done. Up through the pony-infested bracken to the car. I’ve not got time to pick off Yar Tor itself, or to venture onto Corndon Down, but I have another go at trying to find the Coffin Stone, but drawing the line at going to far down the hill. A second attempt is abandoned, and so I climb in the car for the drive over to Princetown.