Dartmoor: Wistmans Wood from Princetown

I was feeling very guilty after a large slice of Coffee and Walnut cake, and, with my efforts yesterday being minimal, I skipped both dinner and a pint last night. A bitter night, apparently. My decision to stay in the bunkhouse paid off, and by all accounts from the teacher chatter in the cafe, the kids camping on the moor had had a character building night under canvas and there were a few tears.

Hoar Frost hits Dartmoor
Hoar Frost hits Dartmoor

My route, once again was undecided. Soon after wandering out of Princetown, the elements bit hard, and I could feel my left cheek sustaining a spot of frost-nip. I hoisted my buff and carried on. The freezing fog had left a myriad of ice sculptures on anything that had remained static overnight.

A bitter day on the open moor
A bitter day on the open moor!
The trees are feeling the freeze
The trees are feeling the freeze

Not only the trees were affected; my biggest problem through the whole day was to be battling with frozen gate locks!

Toughest challenge of the day was getting through the frozen gates!
Frozen locks

I made my way down to Two Bridges, and took the decision to wander up to Wistman’s Wood.

Two Bridges
Two Bridges

I figured the frost would have made for some interesting photographs. As it was, the valley was warmer and fog had been replaced by mist, and visibility was better.

Wistman's Wood
Wistman’s Wood

I reached the woods, and lingered for a while, taking a few pics of the ancient woodland.

Wistman's Wood
Wistman’s Wood
Wistman's Wood
Wistman’s Wood

I intended to turn back but the fog on higher ground drew me in and I began ascending in search of Longaford Tor. Visibility was at its worse for the whole weekend. I could barely make out the two huge granite monoliths either side of me; it was an imposing scene.

Longaford Tor
Longaford Tor

Time to turn south, keeping a careful eye on my bearing. The fog was such that I passed over Littaford Tor without really noticing! When I reached Little Bee Tor, I was impressed by the effects of the frost on the tor.

Little Bee Tor (corrected from Littaford Tors)
Wintry scene on Little Bee Tor
Wintry scene on Little Bee Tor
Wintry scene on Little Bee Tor
Gate to Crockern Tor
Gate to Crockern Tor

Now, more decisions on the route home. I trudged down to Crockern Tor, where visibility was better. This tor is the site of the Stannary Parliament, for about 400 years, up to the 18th Century. For more, visit Tors of Dartmoor.

Crockern Tor
Crockern Tor

A spot of road walking to cross the worst of Muddilake, and then off toward the Princes Hotel.

Avenue to the Prince Hall Hotel
Avenue to Prince Hall Hotel

Up this frost-bitten avenue, and back onto the open moor, high above the West Dart.

The West Dart
The West Dart

Eventually, I picked up the bridleway back to Princetown. A boggy slog along a stretch that Diane and I had traversed a few weeks ago, in more favourable conditions. As I neared the end, the temperature was noticeably lower and the frost more prevalent on the trees. Princetown really is a chilly place to live!

Road near Tor Royal, Princetown
Tor Royal, Princetown

Extremely pleased with my effort today. Plenty of opportunities to make this a short walk, but I stuck with it, and unlike last night, deserved a couple of beers!

Published by Moorland Walker

Paul is a backpacker, tor bagger, Bibbulmun Track End to Ender and West Ham supporter. He moved down from London to live in Okehampton in 2016, after realising he was spending most of his weekends on Dartmoor and it just made sense to make it permanent!

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