Day 4’s 17.9 km route with 302 metres ascent and 442 metres descent.
Day 4 was the coldest day so far, especially in the morning. This meant that I was wearing most of my layers for this day.
I knew that day 4 would be relatively easy as most of the walk would be on a singular track called the Two Moors Way. This reduces the amount of time dedicated to navigation and it would also increase my walking speed.
In fact, the latter had caught me out. I had measured today’s walk based on the timings of the previous three days. My expectation was to arrive in the Ivybridge area at around sunset, but in the event I was two hours early, even with a lot of detours! I guess this is some indication of the relative ease of this day’s walk compared to the previous three days.
The early arrival in the Ivybridge area meant that I could have quite easily have made it to the railway station and shorten the walk by one day. In the end I decided against this and that I would take full advantage of my time off.
With hindsight, this walk could have easily been accomplished in three full days, maybe even two if I had decided to do 30 km days – though in the latter case this would require significant night walks.
Anyways, I’ll let the photo journal tell the story:
As usual, I leave my camp spot in pristine condition!
I’m now headed Southward to try and intercept the Sandy Way Path. The ultimate aim is to use part of it to get me near to Ryder Hill. The thinking being that I could use it to avoid the worst of the Avon Head Mires which lie between me and Ryder’s Hill.
The view of Ryder’s Hill as I try and locate the Sandy Way Path.
Eventually I find the Sandy Way Path and follow it Eastward toward Ryder’s Hill. To the right of the path are the Mires themselves – definitely a place to avoid!
This is where I leave the Sandy Way Path and hang a right directly up Ryder’s Hill.
As I ascend Ryder’s Hill I see the first signs of the Trig Point on the horizon. The going up the hill was difficult with grass tussocks and a lot of boggy areas. Although I tend to swear at my boots due to their weight, it’s at times like this that I’m grateful that I’m wearing them rather than a lighter non-waterproof pair.
The top of Ryder’s Hill – just as I remember it from my first Dartmoor walk last year. However, the ambience is completely different this time around due to the time of year. Last year, I was here in very hot and sunny weather. This year it is freezing cold and windy!
In the distance is the mound that marks the Red China Clay Works. This artificial mound had drawn a lot of my attention on the first Dartmoor walk as it completely dominates the landscape. This time around I thought I’d pay it a visit.
It seems that the route from Ryder’s Hill to the Red Lake China Clay Works is quite popular as a kind of trail has developed. The trail is very muddy and in places quite boggy. However, I prefer this to the tussocks on either side of the trail, so I elect to stay on it.
I have now lost sight of the mound as I get to the bottom of Ryder’s hill. Up ahead, the green vegetation marks the boundary of the River Avon. I’m a little wary, as I know from experience that these type of grasses normally grow in very boggy areas.
The River Avon! It is quite shallow here, so I just wade across. Once more, the Scarpa Active SL boots prove to be completely waterproof.
I’m now ascending the flanks of Green Hill in a Southward direction. I’m expecting to see the mound at the Red Lake China Clay Works pop into view as I gain elevation.
A look Northward back towards the way I came. This picture shows the extensive bog around the River Avon – the dark green areas. Apparently these bogs are part of Ryder’s Mire.
Right on cue, the mound at the Red Lake China Clay Works starts to show itself again!
There is the mound in all its glory! Unfortunately the terrain I need to traverse is extremely boggy. I can’t wait to get onto the mound and relative dryness!
The view Southward from the top of the mound. The trail directly in front is the Two Moors Way trail. I know that from here on in the walk is going to be very easy, as this trail will quite literally take me all the way to Ivybridge at journey’s end.
The view to the Southeast from the mound. In the far distance is the Avon Reservoir that I had camped at last year.
The view to the Northwest. The mound isn’t very high, but it is high enough to dominate the local landscape and provide some great views.
A self photo from the top of the mound. I can’t quite believe that by the end of the day I will be very near Ivybridge at the other end of the moors from my start point.
Time to leave the mound! Navigation from here on in is very easy – just follow that trail!
I was going to top up my water supplies here, but looking at the terrain, I decide that it doesn’t look safe enough. Instead, the current water supplies will have to suffice for the rest of today’s journey. However, I am aware that this decision means that it will be very critical that I find a water supply at tonight’s camp spot.
There are a lot of ruined buildings here, presumably to service the China Clay operation that used to take place here. I wonder what it must have been like to work in such an isolated location?
The Two Moors Way starts to widen up into a more substantial track. Progress here is very rapid indeed.
This part of the walk was very relaxing as I didn’t have to continually concern myself with navigation too much.
Parts of the track are mired in mud and deep puddles, but these are relatively rare occurrences.
I recognise this! I had arrived at this junction on my first Dartmoor walk. Alas, on that walk I had located the Two Moors Way too late. Which meant that for that particular route I couldn’t stay on it for very long. However, for this walk I will be staying on it until the end!
A glance back toward the mound. I’m surprised at just how rapid my progress has been. Tracks really do make a big difference to walking speed!
The quality of the track gets even better as I head Southward. I start to wonder how the clay was transported. Did this track support a railway? Or was it done by some other means? It must have been a very scenic journey for the workers.
As I gain elevation I start getting some great views into Plymouth Sound to the South West.
I see quite a few of these low bridges that seem to appear on either side of the track that I’m walking on. I really need to do some research on the area and delve into its history!
*Max Zoom* To my right up ahead I spot a heard of horses just hanging around. I wonder what they are up to?
More evidence of the industrial past of this area.
As I reach the bridge at Leftlake it becomes obvious that the track is going to take me right past the horses!
The view down on to Leftlake. Again, another remnant of the old China Clay Works.
The horses! Up on the hill I do spot a lone horse and wonder why he is not with them. I would find out later on what was really going on…
*Zoom On* To the Southwest on Stalldown Barrow I spot this rather odd row of stones. I will have to make sure that I plan a trip to visit them at some point.
To the South I start to get glimpses of the edge of the Moor and the sea in the English Channel.
Down below in this valley resides a small wood called Piles Copse. I was going to camp there, but there is too much of the day left. Instead, I decide to press on and put myself as close to Ivybridge as possible ready for the walk to the railway station the following day.
All of a sudden the lone horse that I spotted earlier appeared over the ridge-line and started galloping toward me! I wondered what was going on?
It then stops off and starts neighing very loudly. I’m now really puzzled as to what is going on!
Behind me I hear many galloping hooves. I look around to see all the horses that I had spotted earlier galloping to the horse that was calling out. I guess that horse must have been the heard leader.
I was fascinated by this. I hadn’t realised that horses operated in such a way!
For a little change in scenery, I decide to climb up Three Barrows hill to get to the Trig Point up there. The intent is to have lunch at the Trig Point.
At the top of Three Barrows is the biggest Cairn complex I have ever seen! Where did they find all the rocks?
At the Trig Point and preparing for a spot of lunch. The hot soup was very welcome on this cold day 🙂
With the lunch eaten I start to climb down Three Barrows, back toward the Two Moors Way track.
I get back on the track. This is the view toward Eastern Beacon. The Southern Moor’s edge is now a lot more obvious. I know that this journey is nearly at an end.
Once more I decide to leave the track to take a look at this boundary stone and a Cairn structure on the Northern boundary of Butterdon Hill.
This is the cairn structure that attracted my attention! It seems that in this area at least, they don’t do small cairns!
The view to the Southwest from the cairn.
Having admired the scenery and taken a close look at the cairn I decide to head back to the Two Moors Way Track.
Back on the track!
As I head South I spot this water source, but decide not to use it as it is standing water. Instead, I had decided to locate the Lud Brook stream and obtain my water from there.
After following the track for a bit I decide to break off to the left for some cross country walking to follow some boundary stones that I had spotted.
I decide that I will follow these stones up to the ridge-line up ahead. This should put me in the perfect position to hang a left directly toward Eastern Beacon.
Here is the rather odd mound at the ridge line. Time to head Eastward toward the Eastern Beacon.
Up ahead is Eastern Beacon. Once more, the tussocks have returned. Except this time they now had a sprinkling of thistles to keep me on my toes!
The rocks on Eastern Beacon.
The view down into the valley. I know that the main South West railway line is just at the bottom. I have travelled that railway line many times and had often looked up from a rail carriage to this hill wondering what it must be like to be up here. Now I know!
Here I am now headed South West across country. I’m hoping to find and intercept Lud Brook. Water supplies are now quite low, so it is important that I locate it.
Up ahead I spot the boundary wall on Butterdon Hill. My map assures me that Lud Brook stream is between me and that wall. So I head directly toward the wall.
Down below I can hear running water! Woot!
Lud Brook! Finally I get a chance to replenish my water supplies. I now have a big decision to make. It is only around 1500 and Ivybridge is very near indeed. I could if I wanted, simply hike there and grab a train a day early. After some thought I decided to stay on the moor and take advantage of my time off. With that in mind I decide to pitch camp here near this stream.
The Akto tent is put up and for the first time since the trip began I get the opportunity to air out the sleeping bag. In many respects, my speed along the Two Moors Track had caught me out. I wasn’t expecting to be here until sun-down, but here I was two hours earlier than planned. For the first time on the walk I had a lot of time to just chill out and enjoy the scenery!
The view to the Southwest from my abode!
Just chilling out in the tent and taking in the view! I was feeling quite elated as it had dawned on me that I had effectively walked from one end of the moor to the other. I couldn’t believe that a few days earlier I had been at Okehampton in some pretty dire weather and now here I was at Ivybridge in a much more pleasant environment.
The first meal up is the Fuizion Lamb Tagine. Here it is before reconstitution.
Ten minutes later after adding boiling water I have this delicious meal. I really enjoyed this one!
The Akto tent is configured for bed. I spent a fair bit of time reading from my ebook reader. A very pleasant way to spend the end of the day!
The view from the tent as the sun starts to go down at the end of day 4. I then turn in and set the alarm on my watch as I had to be up early to get the 10 o’clock train from Ivybridge. That’s it for day 4!
A close up shot of the camp spot for Day 4 – the end of the little black circles.
A zoomed out shot of the camp spot to show its proximity to Ivybridge. Given that I got there around 1500, I could have quite easily have made it into Ivybridge and finish the walk a day early, but I had booked the holiday and was going to take full advantage of it!
All that remains for this walk is a short 5km walk to the railway station. Tune in next week for the final part!