Archive for the ‘Dartmoor’ Category

A Dartmoor Stroll   2 comments


The Jones family mantra is do nice stuff rather than have nice stuff when it comes to Birthday’s etc. Past couple of years we’ve gone for holidays and trips away in lieu of pressies and much the better for it. As a birthday treat me and TBF leave the kids behind and take a trip to Cornwall. It’s the perfect combination of hill and coastal walking together with a chance to get dressed up (barely in my case) and have a nice meal. We pick November for TBF as it’s always a low time of year between holidays and cheers us up.

We took in what seems to have become a routine now, lunch in the excellent Cafe on the Green in Widecombe on Dartmoor followed by an afternoon walk. We’ve been lucky so far and had a couple of fabulous walks and this time was even better, a clear still sunny day in November, a real slice of luck. As always I took inspiration from Steve over at Treks and Tors and a recent walk he did near Burrator Reservoir. We didn’t have time for the full walk as November days are short but it is another superb area and we had a cracking walk


It took a bit of aimless wandering in the forest before we found the access onto open ground. The autumn light on the bare trees was stunning


It’s a pretty steep climb up on to Sheeps Tor but the views back across the reservoir to Leather Tor and Sharpitor made things a little easier to cope with



The Dartmoor ponies welcomed us up on to the top


TBF was enjoying seeing the views through new glasses, she’s gone all varifocal




The panorama from the top is stunning. As its near the outer edge you can see down to the coast at Plymouth and across to Bodmin Moor and Cornwall as well as back towards the expanse and tors of Dartmoor itself



We pressed on as we reckoned we could take in a route back along the other side of the valley over Combshead Tor and Down Tor



There were some very soggy patches and a good deal of bashing through the dwindling bracken.




The brown autumn colours in the low sun were sublime




We stopped for a brew on Combshead Tor while we still had sunlight to keep us warm



I love the way the sun picks out the features in the rocks and the contrast in views looking straight into the sun




The sun dipped behind the clouds and there was an instant drop in temperature so we packed up quickly and pressed on


There is an impressive stone circle and stone row but it was half in shadow and sun and almost impossible to take a decent photo



Down Tor was a fine summit and we’d have lingered had darkness not been creeping, or indeed racing in



The setting sun was playing nicely with the clouds as we walked quickly back to the car


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Thanks to Steve, a great idea for a walk and a fine start to our weekend away


Off to Padstow, checked into our B&B and out for a fine meal, slightly sullied by the fact it was still and cloudless on the walk down and blowing a gale and hammering it down when we walked back. Fickle British weather!


Storm Clouds over Dartmoor   12 comments


My Birthday treat was a weekend away in Cornwall for some fine dining, walking and wave based fun in Cornwall. A heavy cold put paid to entering the water so plans were amended slightly but we kicked off as before (for TBF’s birthday weekend) with a fine lunch at the Cafe on the Green in Widecombe in the Moor and a walk on Dartmoor. Thanks to the writings of the excellent blog over at Treks and Tors I have an endless list of very fine walks on Dartmoor to experience and this one was based on one of the more recent posts. Its a great blog and well worth checking out.


The forecast had looked promising with mention of sunshine and “isolated” showers. From up on Dartmoor they were a lot more than isolated! We had a Tor-tour planned and first was Rippon Tor. The views across to Haytor, Dartmoors most famous tor derw us onwards





First we passed over Saddle Tor, appropriately populated with wild ponies


All the while the storm clouds gathered, thunder rumbled and lightning flashed


Haytor was always a favourite spot when I was a kid. We spent many family holidays up at Westward Ho! (only place name in the UK with an exclamation mark) and often came down to Dartmoor for a day out. I always insisted we come up here so I could climb to the top


I love granite tors with their weathered shapes and weird formations


Haytor looked especially dramatic today backed by dark storm clouds. I rekindled childhood memories by climbing to the top but decided not to linger, feeling rather like a lightning rod on the exposed summit


As we passed Haytor quarry in bright sunlight the dark clouds provided an amazing contrast



The clouds all around were bubbling and boiling and we seemed to be just yards from a soaking



We found a fine sheltered spot on Smallacombe Rocks for a cuppa and a slice of cake. We didn’t hang around as our luck was running out and spots of rain were in the air


We walked over one of Dartmoors numerous and very quaint clapper bridges over the Becka Brook


And then up towards and past Greator rocks.



As we passed into Holwell Lawn we came across one of the most stunning displays of bluebells I’ve ever seen



All across open hillside they carpeted the floor in a swathe of purple-blue. Its rare to be able to catch the real sense of colour in a photo. They never seem to be as dense through a lens as they are to the naked eye


Here, that task was easy




We pressed on for more tors over at Bonehill Rocks



Leaving them behind we set off for our final tor, Top Tor


We got a proper soaking in a heavy rain and hail shower that dusted the hills we’d walked on earlier in drifts of white while thunder rumbled and crackled around us. Short-lived, and sunny spells returned for the top and while we finished our fine 6.5 mile back to the car


My second Dartmoor walk in the past year and its wonderful, packed with interesting stuff and a huge variety of landscapes. It deserves a full weekend or holiday all its own or a wild camp to appreciate its austere charms


Satisfied and in need of a little luxury, we headed off to the Althea Library for our weekend stay, with same wonderful room and warm welcome as before



I took a brief stroll around Padstow before our evening out to clear my head (I had a bit of dizzy spell when I arrived) and to enjoy Padstow without the the crowds when it reverts to a peaceful fishing village rather than a tourist fleshpot




Ending the day with a fine curry at The Journeyman restaurant was the perfect finale to a fine first day of my Birthday treat 🙂

Funster Birthday Weekend – Dartmoor   6 comments


Well a very belated birthday weekend anyway. Being the kind of people who like to do nice things rather than have nice things (well I like both but that’s not the point!), I gave TBF the option of a weekend away as her birthday treat. She jumped at the offer and we picked a weekend in November to cheer up that dreariest of months. We headed down on Friday in the hope of a pre-weekend walk. After stopping at the excellent Cafe on the Green in Widecombe on the Moor for a superb lunch and Cream Tea we headed out


I’ve never walked on Dartmoor before so I needed a plan. Luckily I know a very fine Dartmoor inspired blog over at Treks and Tors and Steve gave me this route amongst many others.  An inspired recommendation.

We parked up in a surprisingly busy car park for a Friday in November that seemed to be threatening rain. There were dark skies everywhere but lots of blue to go with it as we pushed up to Cox Tor




We used to visit Dartmoor on day trips from our holidays at Westward Ho! on the North Devon Coast. I was always fascinated by Granite Tors so I was well pleased to do a proper walk amongst them


Despite looking like a wet one the weather was kind to us and we were bathed in plentiful sunshine for the afternoon, although it was perishingly cold


After Cox Tor we traversed down and around to the back of Roos Tor so as to make a circuit


Everyone associates the SW with coastline, beaches and resorts but Dartmoor is a truly wild and empty place. It could feel similar to any wild moorland upland area but it has a whole different charm. Apart from its bristling Granite outcrops it has rivers, farmland and green forested valleys as well a rich industrial heritage and ancient remains of civilisations long gone. Like I said when I first visited Bodmin Moor last year, its packed with interesting stuff and I was enjoying this first taster session


It was already past three when we reached Roos and Staples Tors so the light was fading. The tors themselves made for wonderful outlines against the moody skies





When the sun did come out it lit up the tors and the bracken in a most fetching manner



I was fascinated by the shapes amongst the tumbles of rocks and had a few little scrambles about, far too cold for any more detailed exploration. This outcrop looks suspiciously like TBF



There were views across to the Tamar estuary to Plymouth Sound and you could see the rail and road bridges in the distance




The views across to Vixen Tor, Kings Tor and North Hessary Tor were very fine


We decided to use up every last minute of daylight and extended the walk with an extra loop around and over Whitchurch Common following an old watercourse cut around the hillside. We reached a stone cross that seemed to be telling us the sun was setting and it was time to head back to car and go Padstow for some food!


A splendid late afternoon stroll and a prelude for a cracking weekend outdoors in the South West

Our base in Padstow was the amazing Althea Library B&B. An absolute gem with a  standard of accommodation befitting a 5-star hotel but with all the comforts and welcome of a family home. Huge thanks to Jane and Geoff for looking after us and highly recommended for a stay in the area. Evening meal was in the equally amazing Prawn on the Lawn. A restaurant and a fishmonger all in one with an eclectic feel and enthusiastic friendly staff. All you get is seafood and its superb. Simple stuff, freshly cooked and we dined like kings/queens on tapas plates and Lobster washed down with a bottle of fizz. Well it was a birthday meal after all!

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