Day 3’s overall route of 20.4 km with 599 mtrs ascent and 653 mtrs descent.
Day 3 was all about making up the distance shortfall caused by yesterday’s diversion to get across a stream. I knew I couldn’t leave the original plan intact, so spent the night of Day 2 figuring out a new plan that would shorten the distance I had to walk, but would still get me to Skir Hill as originally planned.
I knew that in order to make up the 7km that I had lost yesterday, I would have to cut out some of the more diversionary parts of the originally planned route. Blue is the original route, grey is the updated route and the actual path I walked. This re-plan would save me over 9 km which should make it possible to reach the original planned camp spot on Skir Hill before sunset.
A core part of the new plan was to hand-rail a farm wall all the way to Skir Hill. This would cut out the extraneous diversion to the South and provide me with an easy to navigate route to Skir Hill. Blue is planned, grey is actual.
I’m so glad that I carry traditional paper maps as I can’t imagine doing this kind of re-planning exercise with just a GPS.
Day 3 saw much improved weather and also saw the transition from the North Moors to the Southern Moors.
It was an excellent day, even if far too much of it was on trails and tracks.
As usual I will let the photos tell the story!
The morning view out of the tent. It was a little foggy, but the sky was quite bright and tinged with blue, which I hoped would point to improving weather.
Sunrise over the Akto tent on Great Mis Tor.
As the visibility improves I get some pretty good views to the North West.
I have now started my journey Southward to get me to the B3357 road.
The peak of Great Mis Tor soon gets engulfed in low cloud. The Tor complex is quite extensive here.
Eventually I get to the Southern extremities of Great Mis Tor where I greeted with a pretty good view Southward.
Little Mis Tor looms out of the morning fog. This is my next destination. There should be a track running alongside it that will take me to the B3357 road.
Little Mis Tor just consists of this small rocky outcrop and is significantly smaller than Great Mis Tor.
With the increasing visibility I’m starting to get some great views. This is the view to the South West. The sun kissed landscape adds further evidence to improving weather.
I find the track heading Southward from Little Mis Tor to the B3357. It’s all downhill and very smooth – this makes for rapid progress.
To the South West a ‘structure’ in the hillside catches my eye, so I switch the camera to full zoom to see what it is…
It turns out to be the Merrivale Quarry!
Up ahead the B3357 road puts in an appearance. Once I cross this road I make the transition from the North Moors to the Southern Moors – I kind of view it as the half way point!
I cross the road and eyeball my next destination – King’s Tor which is now up ahead. Although the walking is cross country, the going is very smooth with no grass tussocks, this makes for a very relaxing walk.
I always debate about whether or not to carry the survival knife. The main reason for not carrying it is its weight – it’s quite heavy. However, on this trip I did bring it and found that it made digging deep latrines a very quick and simple task as one can just cut out the turf, then use the spade to leverage it up.
Once more I am confronted with another stream to cross. I decide to risk seeing just how good my boots are, by literally wading across it at this shallow point. There is no way I would have done this with my old Quest boots as they would have leaked. The Scarpa SL Active’s performed flawlessly and despite being submerged in water, they didn’t let a drop in!
The climb up King’s Tor is now on. It’s not really that steep, though one has to watch one’s footing on the rocky outcrops.
King’s Tor in all its glory!
The view Southward from KIng’s Tor. The intent is to walk Southward down the hill until I get to a crossing track. Then it’s a case of hanging a left and using the track to take me toward Leeden Tor.
I soon get an eyeball on the track! A lot of the walking today would be on tracks, this lends a much different character to the walk compared to the previous two days of cross country walking.
This track is the best track I have walked on yet and takes me past the Swelltor Quarries.
Up ahead is Leeden Tor. The track also crosses a pretty major stream here, this was to be my marker for breaking off toward the Tor in bad weather, but in the event the great visibility meant I could do everything by eye.
After crossing the bridge over the stream I am confronted by this bridge going over the track. It seems a bit odd out here in the middle of nowhere! At this point I hang a left up the embankment and start hiking up towards Leeden Tor.
One of the downsides to walking in the Winter is the relatively low sun. I spent most of the journey Southward being perpetually dazzled by it!
*zoom on* The view to the North East of the TV Antenna at North Hessary Tor.
I’m now on the final ascent of Leeden Tor!
The top of Leeden Tor! The next stage of my journey would be to head Southward and get to the Burrator Reservoir area of the Moor. Specifically, I wanted to visit Leather Tor, the craggy Tor that had attracted my attention on last year’s first Dartmoor walk.
As usual, despite the good visibility I still take regular compass checks to make sure I’m headed the right way!
Up ahead are Leather Tor on the left and Sharpitor directly ahead on the right. I know from my map that I should end up intercepting the B3212 road and a car park before the climb up these Tors starts.
Right on cue the B3212 and its car-parks make their presence known!
The climb up to Sharpitor has now started!
The view Northwards back towards the direction I had come from.
I’m now on the final stages of the ascent up to Sharpitor.
This brought a smile to my face. Someone had obviously taken the trouble to go hiking with Christmas decorations to decorate the only tree on Sharpitor – I like their sense of humour 🙂
On the way up I spot this very low flying aircraft. It seems to have some kind of sensor package/antenna in a rear tail boom. Around 30 minutes later this aircraft puts in another appearance headed in the opposite direction!
The rocks at the top of Sharpitor. Here I’m headed South Eastward to get to Leather Tor.
*zoom on* I get my first real good view of Leather Tor. It is nearly midday, so I elect to make that Tor today’s lunch spot.
There are a lot of sheep and horses up here. Up ahead a line of sheep are making their way South Eastward.
Nearly there at Leather Tor!
The rocks of Leather Tor. Time to find a lunch spot with a good view!
This looks good! It even has a comfortable rock seat!
The view toward Burrator Reservoir from my lunch spot on Leather Tor.
With lunch over I start heading South Westward. The plan here is to pick up the fencing marking the edge of the wood-line and to follow this fencing to Devonport Leet. Once there I should be able to find the main entry point of the woods surrounding Burrator.
I find the fence line and start hand-railing it Southward. It’s now a case of keep going until I bump into Devonport Leet.
Finally I get to Devonport Leet. I take the opportunity to top up my water supplies here. Up ahead on the right bank of the leet is the trail I need to take Eastward. The plan is to cut Eastward through the forest area of Burrator and to emerge on the Eastern boundary on a trail that would ultimately take me to Older Bridge.
The trail follows the leet and takes me into the forest. If one looks carefully on the trail there is a pile of sawdust there. I see these piles at regular intervals, I can only guess that they are there for people to follow – presumably runners?
As with the other areas of the country that I have walked in, it seems that the Forestry Commission is still up to it’s old Forestry Decommissioning tricks. This is obviously a Nationwide initiative, I wonder how many people know that this is going on?
The trail soon y-forks off and away from the leet…
The whole area is well sign posted, but it is criss-crossed with many trails making navigation a little tricky in places. I was using the policy of just keep heading East until I exited the wooded area. Then at that point I could figure out where I was and carry on as planned. This makes trail decisions a lot easier 😀
As I pass through the woods I find this rather deep cave…
The trails are now ascending. This plus their direction Eastward points to the fact that I should soon be exiting the forest.
Up ahead I spot the edge of the forest boundary. I know from some signs I spotted that I am actually on the correct trail. 🙂
A last look back toward Burrator as I leave the forested area.
I’m now following the long trail to Older Bridge. This part of the walk is both scenic and very relaxing due to the well made tracks.
As I head Eastward the surrounding countryside takes on a more wilder look.
I have now made it to Older Bridge. This is Devonport Leet which it crosses.
It is time to leave the main trail. The intent here is to keep heading Eastward until I pick up a trail headed Southward marked by boundary stones.
In some ways I’m a little disappointed that today’s walk doesn’t incorporate the same levels of cross country walking that the Northern Moor had. The original plan had called for a lot more cross country walking, but I had around 7km to make up from yesterday, so the new plan took the most direct route to Skir Hill, which by chance involved a lot more trail walking.
I soon get to the Southward trail and true to the map it is flanked by many boundary stones. Just a case of hanging a right here!
Again, another well made track. I can imagine these tracks being pretty good fun for cyclists. This track ultimately ends up at Elvesbarrow, but my intent is to break off Eastward before then. The marker for the change of direction would be Nun’s Cross Farm.
Right on cue I get a visual of Nun’s Cross Farm up ahead. It will soon be time to break Eastward again.
Siward’s or Nun’s Cross!
I’m now headed toward Nun’s Cross Farm which has plenty of character and is out in the middle of nowhere.
Alas, the Farm is no longer in use. I’d love to live on this farm – it would be the perfect Dartmoor outpost. I wonder what stories it has to tell?
There is an artificial water way headed Eastward from the farm which is the direction I need to go. The idea is to keep heading East until I run into a catchment feature of a trail headed South East.
I soon pick up the South Easterly trail. The next leg of the journey is to follow this trail South Eastward until I reach the boundary wall of Nun’s Cross Farm.
The track starts becoming ill defined. But I know that as long as I head up towards Crane Hill I should end up running into the catchment feature that is the farm’s boundary wall.
This is the ‘boundary wall’. It has obviously seen better times and is now no more than a raised trail. From here I head Eastward. The plan is now quite simple. Follow the wall until one gets to the end which should be the bottom of Skir Hill, the final destination for the day.
The wall I’m following peters out to nothing. I hadn’t realised from the map that it had simply changed direction 90 degrees to North. However, I do spot a continuation of the wall to the North East. It’s going to involve some cross country walking to get there, but once there navigation becomes simple – just follow that wall!
I’m now at the wall hand-railing it Eastward. In my mind’s eye I kind of imagined this part of the walk being quite easy. But it was far from it. The terrain was extremely boggy and criss crossed with many stream-lets. To add more to the fun mix, the grass tussocks had returned – this made forward progress quite slow.
Three kilometres later and after what seemed like an age I finally see the end of the wall and the start of Skir Hill directly ahead.
I now head up Ter Hill on a compass bearing. This hill is connected to and forms part of Skir hill.
A look back to the old tin workings by the wall that I had hand-railed for three kilometres. There is already evidence that the sun was making its final descent.
With the absence of trails I’m back to using the trusty Suunto Compass to show me the way!
Up ahead I spot a feature that just happens to line up on my compass bearing. These are very handy reference points and save time as one does not need to continuously consult the compass.
I reach the top of the hill. It’s now a case of trying to locate the water source on Skir Hill. I know from the map that the water source is located near some very scarred terrain. As I result I decide to continue Eastward and keep my eyes peeled for the scarred terrain which should take me to the water!
Up ahead I start to see hints of scarred terrain from mining. That has to be it! So I head straight for it. I know that daylight hours are running out, so I have to find a water source and a good place to camp pretty soon.
I get to the scarred terrain, but I’m disappointed that the water source seems to be standing water only. According to my map there is a water spring around here somewhere. I decide to hunt around for it amongst the artificial mounds!
I find a relatively flat plot of land completely surrounded by deep mining cuts – almost like being on an island. The water spring sounds like it is nearby too, so I decide this would make a great camp spot. I take off the rucksack to mark the camp spot and then set about heading toward the sound of running water to locate the spring.
The sound of running water takes me to one of the edges of my little ‘hill-island’. Down below I can see the water spring. It is now just a case of heading back to the rucksack to grab my water bottles and head down the hill to fill my bottles up at the spring.
I fill up all my water bottles via the water filter of the travel tap. This always takes a fair bit of time, but once done I always feel elated to have so much drinking water available!
The Akto tent goes up for Day 3’s camp!
Now that I have stopped walking, I find that my body temperature starts dropping resulting in me getting quite cold. To counter this I put on the snug down jacket. This jacket is exceedingly warm and a very reassuring item of kit to carry around in the winter.
The view out of the tent! I was quite pleased that despite being 7 km short yesterday, I had now made this up and had made the planned spot for day 3.
The first meal of the night is a curry. For some reason the Fuizion Curry’s are nearly all quite watery. They taste nice, but I would have preferred a lot more rice in them.
The second meal is much more substantial. It is a lamb hot pot and tastes delicious!
As it gets dark the moon makes its presence felt. It bathes the whole area in bright moonlight. This is something city dwellers never really experience as the street lights over power the moon’s light. But out in the country it makes a real difference to the illumination levels of the surrounding terrain.
Getting ready for bed – the foot end of the now closed down tent.
And the head end of my abode. It’s now goodnight from me at the end of day 3!
The final camp spot for day 3. It’s a little to the South East of the planned spot, but it’s a case of you go with what’s on the ground.
This Google Maps overhead view more clearly shows the hill-island that I had camped on. It was quite weird camping on such a small hillock with steep sides. The water spring was in the gully to the North of my camp spot.
Day 3 ended with me being back on plan, which was a relief. I knew that the hard bits of the walk had now been done and that the following day would be a relatively easy one. It was with those pleasant thoughts that I fell asleep.
Have a happy new year everyone!