Tag Archive: tors


WP_20140903_018This was the big one. Day three of our Tor Challenge was billed as an all dayer, packed lunch required. Travelling to the northern edge of Dartmoor at Meldon, near Okehampton, we headed for the reservoir, a beautiful site in itself and the starting point for our day’s walk.

 

It was a long trudge around Longstone Hill and then across valleys and into the (today quiet) firing range, towards Black Down. From  here we followed increasingly rugged and harder-to- see paths to the foot of West Mill Tor. A short, steep ascent was rewarded with a tremendous view on another beautifully sunny day. From  here we could see our ultimate objectives- High Willhays (the highest  point in Devon and southern England) and Yes Tor, slightly lower. It was also from here that we made our first spotting of…….a nude walker! At least that’s what it looked like as a well-tanned male torso was seen stepping out boldly towards the slopes of Yes Tor. Having got over the ‘shock’ of this sight we made our way down to a wide, well trodden path that would take us up to the ridge between the two tors we were left with.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This was steady walking, remembering to pick up a stone or two en route to add to the cairn atop High Willhays. It was here that we saw our nude friend once more, striding out but also rather aimlessly- was he looking for someone to show off to? (we didn’t get close enough to see if he had reason to show off…). Or was he following us? He seemed to be close to our route across to Yes Tor and even waved at me and said ‘Hi’ just after I snapped a picture to prove our point….

Back to Nature- 1

Back to Nature- 1

Back to Nature- 2....

Back to Nature- 2….

After a packed lunch atop Yes Tor, admiring the distant views and chatting to fellow walkers, we saw some low clouds forming to the south and so decided to pick our way back to Black Down the quick route down the slopes, but also a rather wetter one through boggy ground. So, that’s nine Tors done, how many more could we add?

Would Day Four live up to this latest experience?

Old School Gardener

The view in the morning - looking towards Tavistock from the car park near Merrivale

The view in the morning – looking towards Tavistock from the car park near Merrivale

Having seen off the rain and mist on the first day of our ‘Tor Challenge’, we started day two with bright sunshine- you could see across the moor for miles. Today’s plan was to do two walks with a break for lunch at a well-known pub (the ‘Dartmoor Inn’ at Merrivale). The morning began with a couple of hours walk close to where we were on day one, but the contrast in weather couldn’t have been starker.

Having parked up at the pub we set off following the road back towards Tavistock and then headed inland (having taken a bearing first) ascending and crossing the rounded crest of Barn hill to the first of the targets, Feather Tor, an unassuming tor from it’s approach, but with some interesting rock formations (and a rare Dartmoor tree!).

From here it was a short, but steep walk up to a much more expansive tor, Heckwood. It affords a view that is truly breathtaking and I think this, on reflection, was one of my favourite tors on our challenge. The walk back to the pub involved finding a stream and following this past Vixen tor (which is a striking formation, but unfortunately not accessible to the public), and involved some boggy ground, but nothing too uncomfortable despite the previous day’s rain.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lunch was a perfect combination of  ‘Pannini and Pint’, after which we drove to our afternoon walk- north of Tavisotck, near Lydford this time and involving one tor I’d walked a good few years back, Brat Tor with the famous stone Widgery Cross at its summit. This was quite a climb, but again, a combination of walking poles, good boots and light clothing made it only partly puffing!

The cross was erected to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. It measures 12 feet 8 inches (3.86 metres) tall and 4 feet 4 inches (1.32 metres) across the arms. The shaft is 2 feet 1 inch (0.64 metres) square and is made of 10 layers of roughly cut granite blocks, topped off with a pointed rock. The blocks are of differing sizes, which interlock with each other to make the structure more secure. It was erected at the expense of William Widgery, the well-known local artist, and bears the inscription: ‘W. Widgery, Fecit, Jubilee, V.R.’

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From here we walked across a valley to Arms Tor (not sure if it’s called that because it has two distinctive blocks that look like arms?), which stands about 6 metres higher than Brat Tor at 457 metres.

From here, in the warm afternoon sunshine, we made our way back to the bridge and stepping stones over the River Lyd where I recorded a short video to capture the magical sound of the rippling water…..

The end of a marvellous second day and meanign we had already completed 6 tors in our Tor Challenge! Day three was to prove a bit of an eye opener in several ways…..

Old School Gardener

WP_20140903_020We’re just back from a week in Dartmoor, Devon, walking between some of the well-known, usually prominent rocky features of this beautiful landscape, known as tors

The Challenge

The tors (there are over 160 of them) are the focus of an annual event known as the Ten Tors Challenge, when around 2400 people aged between 14 and 19 (in over four hundred teams of six), face hikes of 35, 45 or 55 miles (56, 72 or 88km) visiting ten nominated tors over two days.  The teams must be self-sufficient, carrying all that they need to complete their route safely despite the terrain and the weather.  The latter can be very changeable and at times quite extreme, and success or failure can depend very much on the extent to which a team has been trained for all eventualities.

Not having completed this in her youth, my partner ( a local lass), was keen to do her own ‘Ten Tors Challenge’, but at a more leisurely pace. In the event, extremely good weather meant that we were able to visit double the target number of tors spread over six days, and including excellent overnight accommodation at my mother – in – law’s house in Tavistock! Over a series of posts in the next few days, I hope to give an interesting account of our adventures along with a few pictures. For starters here’s a ‘primer’ on Dartmoor and the tors in question….

dartmoor locationThe Moor

Covering an area of 954 sq km (368 sq miles), Dartmoor contains the largest and wildest area of open country in the south of England. By virtue of its outstanding natural beauty it is one of the National Parks of England and Wales. Unlike many National Parks in other countries, for example the USA, the National Parks in England, Wales and Scotland are not owned by the state.  The term ‘National’ means that they have been identified as being of importance to our national heritage and as such are worthy of special protection and attention.  Within each National Park there are many landowners, including public bodies and private individuals. National Parks are places where people live and work.

Geology

A large part of Dartmoor (65%) is made up of granite, an igneous rock which was intruded some 295 million years ago.  This great granite core is surrounded by sedimentary rocks including limestones, shales and sandstones belonging to the Carboniferous and Devonian periods.  Those nearest the granite intrusion were altered (metamorphosed) by intense heat and pressure and chemical reactions.

Tors

Dartmoor is known for its tors – hills topped with outcrops of bedrock, which in granite country such as this are usually rounded boulder-like formations. More than 160 of the hills of Dartmoor have the word tor in their name but quite a number do not.   However this does not appear to relate to whether or not there is an outcrop of rock on their summit.

The processes resulting in the formation of the Dartmoor tors started about 280 million years ago as the granite forming Dartmoor cooled and solidified from molten rock at a temperature of 900 – 1000˚C. The minerals which make up granite crystallised as closely interlocking grains forming the hard rock. Granite is formed of three main minerals: Quartz – appearing in the granite as translucent slightly greyish looking grains; Feldspar – white grains, sometimes stained yellowish or pink (in parts of the granite feldspar forms large white crystals); and Biotite – dark brown glistening flakes.

dartmoorVarying climatic conditions occurring over millions of years, along with the cooling of the molten and other materials were the first, mainly chemical factors in the formation of the tors. Most recently, cold conditions in the Ice Age (between 2 million to 10,000 years ago), have caused major mechanical forces to shape the landscape we see today. Of these the most important is the expansion of freezing water. The deeply weathered granite was forced apart and broken up into blocks by being subjected to frequent freezing and thawing during the cold periods of the Ice Age, and gravity was also important, moving the loose material downhill.

 The principal tors are:

Tor Height above sea level
High Willhays 621m (2,039ft)
Yes Tor 619m (2,030ft)
Great Links Tor 586m (1,924ft)
Fur Tor 572m (1,876ft)
Great Mis Tor 539m (1,768ft)
Great Staple Tor 455m (1,493ft)
Haytor 454m (1,490ft)
Hound Tor 448m (1,469ft)
Sharpitor 402m (1,320ft)
Sheeps Tor 320m (1,050ft)
Vixen Tor 320m (1,050ft)

Well that’s the basics….except you might be interested in a TV programme that is showing this evening (Tuesday 9th September) on ITV 1 (7.30pm). The first in a new series of ‘Wilderness Walks’ by bushcraft expert Ray Mears focuses on Dartmoor. I’ll certainly be watching….

…so now for an article on the first stage of our trip – and it’s a mysterious beginning to our adventure that awaits…..(I’ll explain more about the nudist along the way too).

Further Information:  Dartmoor National Park

Old School Gardener

Alphabet Ravine

Lydia Rae Bush Poetry

TIME GENTS

Australian Pub Project

Vanha Talo Suomi

a harrowing journey of home improvement

How I Killed Betty!

The Diary and blog on How to Tackle Depression and Anxiety!

Bits & Tidbits

RANDOM BITS & MORE TIDBITS

Rambling in the Garden

.....and nurturing my soul

The Interpretation Game

Cultural Heritage and the Digital Economy

pbmGarden

Sense of place, purpose, rejuvenation and joy

SISSINGHURST GARDEN

Notes from the Gardeners...

Deep Green Permaculture

Connecting People to Nature, Empowering People to Live Sustainably

BloominBootiful

A girl and her garden :)

gwenniesworld

ABOUT MY GARDEN, MY TRAVELS AND ART

Salt of Portugal

all that is glorious about Portugal

The Ramblings of an Aspiring Small Town Girl

Cooking, gardening, fishing, living, laughing.

aristonorganic

"The Best of the Best"

PetalPushin

Thoughts from a professional Petal Pusher

Free Spirit Publishing Blog

An idea exchange for kids' education

%d bloggers like this: