Yet again a crappy forecast. But it’s Dartmoor, so it comes with the territory. If there’s one thing Dartmoor’s done for me, it’s to improve my tolerance for walking in uncomfortable weather. Today looked like a day for further “training” in that area.
Jim has gone home and Paul has domestic stuff to do, so it’s an elite group of Cath (@wellycath), Sarah (@PascallSarah), Phil (@DaylightGambler) and me that venture out. For the second day running I’ve somehow managed to wangle a group walk with no tors that I’d previously done, allowing me to close the gap slightly in the league table.
The plan is to pick off Gidleigh Tor first and then make our way through the woods and across the North Teign to higher ground, looping back eventually to Gidleigh. Despite the map showing a footpath crossing the North Teign near Gidleigh, there’s no mention of what that crossing might be, so we set out with a bit of a question mark over the viability of the route – especially with the rivers so high at the moment.
We park up in a convenient space just outside Gidleigh and head off into Gidleigh Park. Only a little way off the footpath lies Gidleigh Tor.
Nice, but not impressive, until we’re walking down through the wood to cross the river . Rocks are spilled down from the tor and left lying among the trees. Additional points are awarded to the tor.
We reach the bottom of the valley and the moment of truth arrives. It’s make or break time for the walk – can we cross the North Teign despite nothing being marked on the map. It seems we can…
We climb up through the other side of the wooded valley, cross a road and find ourselves in a lane between old stone walls. Water runs down the leafy, rock-strewn path as we duck beneath low-hanging branches. We’ve found ourselves a “plither”. It doesn’t last long though and we emerge onto the Moor proper.
Relatively sheltered so far from the wind and intermittent bursts of rain, we’re now out in the full force of it as we climb over the rough grass towards Little Kes Tor.
Little Kes Tor is in reality several dispersed clumps of rocks. We visit most of them and stand on them as long as we can bear in the strong wind.
Next stop is Kestor Rock itself – a much more prominent edifice. We squelch our way along the grassy track towards the tor. The ground is sodden everywhere, showing that original hopes of camping out during the trip aren’t really that sensible.
We reach the tor and shelter from the wind in its lee. To the north-east a rainbow pokes through the murky cloud.
Our next stop is Middle Tor just down the hill from Kestor Rock.
Just across a slight depression lies Frenchbeer Rock, from which I can only infer that French ale isn’t very fizzy.
To the south angry-looking clouds are tumbling across the sky. Shafts of light force their way through…
We retrace our steps to Middle Tor and then try various routes through the sodden ground to Thornworthy Tor. Here lunch is called on a spot overlooking Fernworthy Reservoir. Out come the hot Ribena and pies.
Now we have two more to do and a bit of a walk to the North Teign. First there’s a bog to negotiate. Phil makes it across first and then points out directions to the laggards. I can’t tell whether he’s trying to be helpful or to lure us into a swampy demise. I forge my own route and stay pretty dry. On the other side of the bog and on slightly higher ground we regroup by a standing stone.
The rain comes as we trudge our way onwards to the river. Heads are down just getting the walk done. Finally though, we arrive at the river and hop across. It’s then only a short walk downstream to find the Tolmen Stone, missed out the last time I came this way.
We now head up the hillside to Scorhill Stone Circle.
And finally walk around the hill to Scorhill Tor itself.
Then it’s back to the car, and a date with beer in Sticklepath. We fall on our feet in the pub, securing the last few pints of Dragon’s Breath at £1 a go. This is exactly how every Dartmoor walk should end.