A great circular near Widecombe, that can take in ten tors, although I only managed nine on this occasion.
I’ve always thought of the east side of Dartmoor as being a little too popular for my tastes; some of the iconic tors, such as Hay and Hound are well trodden thanks to the car parks at the foot of each, and so I have shied away from them. However, on my previous visit, as I drove across from Ashburton to Princetown, via the village of Widecombe in the Moor, I had chanced upon a beautiful day and the whole scene had me thinking of giving it a chance.
Fast forward to last weekend. Starting from a small car park near Harefoot Cross, above Widecombe, I headed north in a biting wind, and, within a matter of minutes, the rain. Fortunately, it lasted no more than half an hour, but the showers stayed close for the day; countless rainbows spotted throughout the walk were testament to that.
Across Bonehill Rocks, where school kids were being instructed in some climbing, on to Bell and Chinkwell Tors respectively. I took a look at Honeybag Tor, some 500 metres away, but, still yet to find a second wind, I turned back and headed east, then north across Houndtor Down, to the famous Hound Tor.
Hound Tor is a well known climbing location, and even on a mixed bag like today, there were plenty of ropes dangling from the tops of the granite walls.
I moved on, down to a medieval settlement, nicely sheltered from a south westerly in a re-entrant with Hound Tor and Greator Rocks either side.
The track then fell away, some 80 metres, into woodland either side of Becka Brook.
A steady climb up out of the valley, I came to Smallacombe Rocks, and before me, a kilometre and a half away, lay Haytor Rocks; quite possibly the most photographed of all the tors on Dartmoor. As you near the giant granite outcrops, you get a sense of the size by the people clambering onto their tops.
Arriving at these tors from the north is much preferable, as you get a more remote feel to the whole scene, because once passed through the two lumps, you can see the bustling car park some thirty metres below.
I avoided the throngs, and set off to the quarries to the west, and then Saddle Tor, before hitting the road for a short stretch and an easy ascent of Top Tor. From here, it was a few minutes to the car.