Every year close to Easter, we get together with a group of old university friends – a tradition that’s been going on for 20 years now. Consequently we’re running out of new places to go, and as we’ve evolved into family groups and acquired children and dogs, additional criteria that further restrict our choice of location get added. This time, though, I was keen to see if I could steer the decision in favour of Devon so that an opportunity to bag a few more tors on Dartmoor could be created. With @wellycath being part of the group too, and the core of the holiday planning and admin being focussed on her and on Mrs Hillplodder, the suggestion of Dartmoor went down quite well. What was more difficult, however, was finding a suitable cottage with the right numbers of beds in the right configuration and that was also dogproof. This saw us ending up about 15 miles away from the moor just outside Halwill Junction. It didn’t matter, it was close enough.
The group of 6 adults, 2 kids and 2 Basset hounds assembled and after the usual lazy first day where we didn’t do much, set our sights on a trip to the beach for Easter Monday. A walk along the beach at Sandy Mouth Bay was followed up with an exploration of Bude itself.This didn’t take long and compared with many seaside towns I’ve been to whilst doing the South West Coast Path, Bude was quite frankly disappointing. But hey, I’ve at least done a recce for when the walk gets there in a couple of years time.
With the dogs disappearing on Tuesday and a pub lunch booked at the Warren House Inn, a bunch of us took the opportunity to visit a few tors on the way to the pub.
Wednesday was a visit to Lydford Gorge, which we’ve been to countless times before, but this time I was keen to take a look at Ravens’ Tor in the gorge itself. A sixth tor was duly added to the bag for the week.
Thursday was the one I’d been looking forward to though – all along we’d planned to do a full day walk on the moor. With quite a lot of choice available we had to pick something with sensible options for a bail out of the younger members of the party when they’d had enough. A circuit of the tors around Great Links Tor proved to be about right.
Our route took us over towards the infant River Lyd in a quest for Black Rock. After a bit of zig zagging on the hill we found it rising above the river. I took to this one immediately and we lingered for several minutes. The usual wimpiness of Cath in crossing the Lyd provided a brief moment of hilarity before we climbed up to Brat Tor, distinctive by virtue of the large cross on top, put there to commemorate Queen Victoria’s jubilee.
Arms Tor came next and proved to be another of those tors I like – several outcrops, a decent flat patch in between them and some good views. Indeed, I’d probably say it was my favourite tor of the walk. Next we cut down the hillside a short way to find Lower Arms Tor. As we did so Little Miss Hillplodder could be seen taking the short cut over to our next objective – Little Links Tor – where we caught up with her.
The big one of the day, Great Links Tor, coincided with lunch, and also a plea from the smallest member of the expedition to call it a day, leaving just Cath and I to finish the route. They returned to the cars and we headed in the opposite direction for the strangely named Higher and Lower Dunna Goat tors. Next up was Green Tor before we had to cut uphill across rough grass to find the top of Amicombe Hill, and Kitty Tor. Below us Stenga Tor sat surrounded by bog and feet were wet getting to it.
A bit of a zig zag up and over the hill got us to Hunt Tor and a few minutes later Gren Tor. Now following an old railway the path was good and took us up onto Great Nodden before crossing the fields back to the car.
The last day came and despite various good intentions to get out early, we failed miserably and arrived at our first target for the day – Arlington Court, a National trust property, at lunchtime. We spent a couple of hours looking around, me finding the huge collection of model ships of particular interest, threw a cream tea down our necks and headed for the seaside once more.
The theme of less-than-wonderful seaside towns continued with Westward Ho! A bit of time spent on the beach, the smallest member of the party engrossed in digging irrigation channels across the dirty sand, then we headed for what everyone else in the group really wanted – the chip shop. The old maxim of picking the one that looks busiest again worked well.
The weather broke overnight, as if to signify the end of the holiday and we headed home, with me on a quick turnaround before heading off to the Lakes – more about that later.