Day 3’s 20.3 km route with 726 mtrs ascent and 722 mtrs descent.
Day 3 was the highlight of the walk for me. The weather was superb, the scenery varied and I got to see three sets of Bronze age standing stones.
The standing stones really made me feel like I had some sort of connection with our ancestors, the kind of connection that one gets just by touching something so old.
Of the three sets that I viewed, I was most impressed by the ones to the East of Down Tor. I think it was the size of the stones and the ability to view the whole thing at once that made them stand out.
I will have to apologise in advance for the number of photos on this blog post. But on the really good days I always seem to take an inordinate number of them – and the ones featured here are only a small fraction of the total taken!
Anyways, I will let them tell their story of day 3…
I awake relatively late on Day 3. However, the Winter is a long way behind us, so the days are long enough that this doesn’t present a problem.
I open the tent up to a cloudless blue sky! It looks like today is going to be a hot one!
First up is the usual breakfast. However the walking of the last two days has shredded the scone! No worries – I just pour the crumbs straight into my mouth from the bag 🙂
Despite the relatively late start, I’m still a little bleary eyed. At least it looks like I’m starting to pick up a bit of a tan!
The tent is soon packed up. The plan is to handrail the stream Southward to get me to the B3212 road.
Although I hike in all weathers – I’m happiest when it’s sunny like this! Directly ahead if you look carefully, you can see the B3212 road. The intent is to cross this Southward then hike up a small hillock to Logan Stone and Black Tor.
To the South West I can see Leedon Tor. I’ve not managed to visit this one yet, but alas it is not on this plan.
I have crossed the B3212. My map assures me that Logan stone is at the top of this hillock, but there is no sign of it just yet.
As I crest the hillock Logan Rock makes itself known! In the background are the trees that mark the Burrator area.
A close up of Logan Rock before I leave. In the background is Black Tor.
Black Tor bathing in the morning sun!
Up ahead I can see Hart Tor which is the target for the next leg of the walk. The plan is to head Eastward down this hill to the River Meavey down below, cross it, then make my way up the Tor.
The slope down hill is a gentle one, which makes for a nice relaxing walk.
I soon reach the River Meavey and start looking around for a way across. Luckily two hikers on the other side point me in the direction of an unmarked bridge! 🙂
There’s the bridge! No fording for me!
I now start the climb up to Hart Tor. Just ahead of me I can make out an ancient stone row dating from the Bronze age.
When I see these old stones, I can’t help thinking about the Bronze Age people that built them. What were they for? What was their significance? Perhaps just a thoroughfare?
The ancient stone row then terminates in a circular formation of stones with a small pit in the centre. Maybe some kind of old abode?
Up ahead is the top of Hart Tor – not far to go!
I soon make it to the top. In the distance to the North is the TV mast on North Hessary Tor – the site of my previous visit to the Moors.
The view Southwestward toward the trees that surround the Burrator Reservoir – a very picturesque part of Dartmoor.
The plan from here is to cross the stream up ahead to the Southeast then head up the hill to take me to a Trig point at 445 mtrs elevation.
You can tell that this is a path that is well trodden. Once again, the OS maps fail to show these features.
The fording point is wide and shallow. Luckily there are a number of stones for me to hop across without getting wet!
Once across, I head up the unnamed hill. Thinking about it, I think I shall name it Cramber Hill, given that Cramber Tor is just around the corner – there you go, it’s official now! 🙂 The climb is an easy one. However, the top is relatively large and flat, with no obvious centre point. As such I’m going to have to keep my eyes peeled for the Trig Point.
Up ahead I can just about see the tell tale tip of a Trig Point.
*Zoom On* The Trig Point!
This Trig Point is surrounded by bog and a big puddle – no Trig Point pose here!
Time to head Southward down the hill. This compass bearing should put me on a collision with some old tin workings. From there it’s a case of handrailing the tin workings directly to a foot bridge.
As I descend, the terrain starts to dry out. In the far distance is an artificial ridge marking the boundary of the Tin Workings that I need to handrail.
The tussocks are now well behind me. The terrain is perfect walking terrain! 🙂 Now where are the Tin Workings?
There’s the old Tin Workings! Time to Handrail it to the South East!
After handrailing the Tin Workings I head directly Southward. If I have done this right I should run right into the bridge crossing Devonport Leat.
Bang on! Navigation +1!
A view down the artificial Leat. This was built back in the 1790’s to provide fresh water to the ever expanding dockyards in Plymouth.
This is the main track from Burrator to Older Bridge. I have been down this track on one of my previous walks. If you look carefully you can just about see a cross off to the left of the track. That’s where I’m headed!
There it is! Burrator Reservoir can be seen behind it in the distance. I don’t know the name of this cross as it’s just called ‘Cross (restored)’ on the map.
The plan is to now head cross country to the South West toward Down Tor which can be seen up ahead in the distance.
On the way, I need a call of nature. This is the ‘before’ photo. Once again the knife makes short work of digging the hole.
The ‘after’ photo. Once again I pride myself on my field craft. Can you see it?
Back on with the walk. I’m really enjoying this leg because there is so much to see, which helps break up the usual to-the-horizon-wild-grass-view!
I soon run into the boundaries of some very old fields, many of which are still in use. It’s a case of handrailing these field walls down the hill to the Newleycombe Lake stream.
There’s the stream. Just need to find a crossing.
I spot a narrow point and just do a run and jump. When I land, the GPS on my right shoulder clobbers me on the head!
Time to head up hill. The plan is to get the steep part of the climb out of the way, then head directly West to Down Tor.
The terrain is quite rough on the way up, but doesn’t present too much of a problem.
The view Westward down the Newleycombe Lake Valley. The photos really don’t do this area any justice. I really loved the views here.
The hill starts to flatten out, time to change my direction Westward.
Here I’m handrailing the valley Westward. Just ahead to the left is Down Tor. I’m looking forward to getting there as it should provide a good view onto Burrator Reservoir.
Down the valley in the distance I spot Leather and Sharpitor.
I’m now headed directly toward Down Tor. There are many people on it, though they pop down before I get there. They appear to be an organised hiking group with each of them carrying huge rucksacks!
Down Tor! This will be my first visit to this Tor. The plan is to snack out once I get to the top.
The view from the top of the Tor is outstanding! I stay up here for around 15 to 20 minutes, eating, drinking and taking in the view.
After a short rest I head down the flank of the Tor to head Eastward up the hill. The plan is to intercept another Bronze age stone row that’s in the area.
I take a last look behind me toward Down Tor as I head up the hill.
I get to the Bronze/Neolithic age stone row and I’m completely taken aback by it. This one is so much grander than the others that I have seen. It was apparently restored to its former glory in 1894.
The Western end has a circular formation of stones, with the rest heading up hill in a line. The stones vary in height, but the larger ones are over 2 mtrs tall!
The plan is to follow the row up the hill until I get to an old ancient enclosure. Then on my right should be a man made cutting which I will be had railing to take me Eastward.
I really enjoy looking at these old stone monuments. But I am puzzled as to their purpose. There doesn’t seem to be much about them on the internet.
I soon pass the stone row. Up ahead in this picture is an ancient enclosure. I take a look inside and I’m sure I can make out hut circles, but it could be my imagination 🙂 The plan now is to turn around and head for the cutting at the base of Elvesbarrow Hill.
Just beyond this Cairn is the cutting. I need to graze the top left edge of it, then head directly up the hill on the right.
The terrain is quite tussocky on the way up, but not quite in the same league as the Northern Moors.
Tip of the day! If you want to dry your socks out and the weather is good hang them on your rucksack! More specifically, hang them on the side of your rucksack, so that when you sit down there is no danger of them touching the wet ground. You wouldn’t believe how hard this shot was to take 🙂
As I head up Elvesbarrow hill I take a last look behind me toward Burrator before it disappears from view.
I’m nearly there! This is the cairn marking the top of Elvesbarrow hill at 454 mtrs elevation.
When I get to the top I find two boundary stones. One is relatively recent, but the other has an odd shaped spoon like object sticking out of it. I decide to take a close look…
This maybe some ye-olde graffiti. Not bad though, it’s been here since 1867! I wonder who FB was? And whether they were here for business or pleasure?
I take a another photo of the boundary stones toward Leather and Sharpitor Tors.
It’s now out with the compass! The plan is to head Southward to get to Higher Hartor Tor. I was quite keen to go there as it was one of the Tors that I visited on my first ever walk in Dartmoor back in 2012!
I soon get eyes in the Tor in the far distance. Just beyond it are the hills of Langcombe Hill. Somewhere up there is a Trig Point which I will be visiting today 🙂
The terrain dips down a little, but I can still see the tips of the rocks marking Higher Hartor Tor.
Higher Hartor Tor! I have great memories of this Tor from my first walk. I can remember feeling elated that I had nearly accomplished my aim of walking across Dartmoor on what was my first true multi-day walk back in 2012.
I then look to the South East to locate Lower Hartor Tor which can be seen in the middle distance of this picture.
The local wildlife – some Dartmoor Ponies doing their thing!
The route to Lower Hartor Tor is a little boggy, but there is an obvious track leading there. Once again the OS maps fail to show it.
Here I’m at Lower Hartor Tor looking Southward toward my next short leg. The plan is to walk down the hill to a confluence of the River Plym and the Langcombe Brook streams. Once there I will have lunch and top up my now quite low water supplies.
There’s the meeting point of the two streams. It seems a heard of Dartmoor ponies have taken over the area to graze and enjoy the fresh water.
The whole valley is very scenic. I will have to arrange a walk to explore it in its entirety!
There is no way across the stream without fording across. I don’t mind as I will be having lunch on the other side, which means the rucksack will be coming off anyway.
Boots off, trousers rolled up and ready to ford!
I get across the other side without incident and start looking around for a good place to sit down and have my meal.
As usual the late lunch consists of a soup, cheese spread and cheese oatcakes. I remember the feeling of pure bliss here – sat down, not a soul around, surrounded by gurgling streams and many Dartmoor Ponies.
Occasionally one of the ponies breaks away from the heard to grab a drink from the stream. They were completely oblivious to my presence.
Whilst eating I was mesmerised by these two ponies grooming each other! That’s team work for you!
With the meal eaten I go to the stream to top up my water supplies. There will be a lot of hill walking on the next phase and I’m not too sure about the availability of water. Given the hot weather I decide to fill up one of the 1 litre bottles in addition to the usual Travel Tap. I don’t really want to run out of water on a day like this one! 🙂
I take a last look at my lunch spot before heading up the hill behind me and to the South.
It’s now on to the business of hill climbing! I have around 200 mtrs to climb to get to the 493 mtr Trig Point on Langcombe Hill.
As I head up the hill I take a look behind me to the lunch spot and Higher Hartor Tor.
The terrain on Langcombe hill is very tussocky and reminds me of the Northern Moors. Rather paradoxically, it also seems to be getting boggier the further up the hill I go!
There are occasional spots of flat green grass. Where I see them I detour my route toward them to give my ankles a respite from the tussocks.
A quick look behind me on the way up the hill!
The hill starts to flatten out and there is now an obvious track here. I’m hoping this is going to lead me to the Trig Point. Once again the lack of any discernible peak makes finding the Trig Point a little more difficult.
My intuition about the track pays off! There is the Trig Point. The terrain up here is very boggy indeed – just like the Trig Point I had visited earlier on in the day. I guess that this is the norm for hills with relatively flat and broad tops.
There it is the Trig Point on Langcombe Hill at 493 mtrs elevation. Once again I can’t pose on it… So….
…. I decide to pose near it! That will do. I now feel like one of those members of the public desperately trying to get themselves in shot with a celebrity! 🙂
It’s out with the compass to send me on my way! This is the final phase of today’s journey. The plan is to visit the standing stones on Stalldown Barrow and then get to Piles Copse to make camp for the night.
There are some suggestions of a trail here made by off-road vehicles. I try and stay in the tracks to avoid the tussocks, but it is extremely boggy.
To the South I can see evidence that I’m reaching the Southern edge of the Moors.
Stalldown Barrow is the yellow-brown hill off to the right in the far distance. Between it and me is the River Yelm and what looks like some pretty decent grass terrain. Apparently there were a number of old settlements here.
I soon get to the River Yealm. This was another stream that I could just jump across without having to ford.
The view Southwards down toward Dendles Wood.
I’m now climbing up and around the main spur of Stall Moor. The flat grass makes this part of the walk very easy. I’m guessing the stones directly ahead are all that’s left of the old settlements that used to be here?
I have nearly crested the ridgeline of Stall Moor. I’m keen to see if I can see the standing stones on Stalldown Barrow once I get to the top.
*Zoom On* Bingo!!!! There they are!!! They mark my last hill climb for today.
Before I get to Stalldown Barrow (the hill directly in front), I will have to cross the Ranny Brook Stream up ahead then cross some bog as indicated by the map.
I have now crossed the Ranny Brook Stream and I’m now headed through the bog. The map wasn’t wrong in that respect. It’s quite deep in places and very tussocky. I’m a little on edge after the bog sinking incident on day 1. But in the end, after careful foot placement I make it through without any issues.
The climb up Stalldown Barrow seems to take forever, but looking on the map it is a little over a km of walking. However, I’m soon rewarded with a view of the tips of the Bronze aged standing stones.
When I get nearer I’m very surprised at the number of stones. From my original vantage point there only looked like there were four or five, but I reckon it’s somewhere from 20-30 stones! Once again it’s a mystery as to why our ancestors built them.
The ground around the stones is very boggy. I have been planning to visit these stones since I first saw them two years ago from the other side of the Erme River. I was so far away at the time that I couldn’t quite make out what they were. But I was determined that I would visit them at some point, so here I am!
The stones go off for a long way down the hill. I decide not to follow them all the way down as I need to preserve my elevation to get to a cairn to the East.
Part of the way along the row the stones are arranged in a circle. Again, I have no clue as to why this should be or to what purpose it served. Our Bronze age ancestors are a pure mystery!
After I had finished looking at the stones I decide to head to the Cairn marking the top of Stalldown Barrow. The plan is to take a compass bearing from there to take me to Piles Copse.
This whole hilltop is very boggy. Dartmoor’s bogs always seem to occur at just the right frequency to keep my feet continuously wet! 🙂
I’m at the Cairn and take the compass bearing. I always make a habit of using the map and compass, even in good weather. For starters it provides reassurance, and secondly and perhaps more importantly it enables me to get in some practice and be able to see the results. Far better to keep one’s skills honed in good rather than poor weather!
I’m now headed downhill and Eastward toward the River Erme and Piles Copse. I know that I will be making a very steep descent, so during the stop at the cairn I had taken out the hiking poles to provide assistance. Having them out at this stage would also make them ready for the subsequent stream crossing too.
As the hill drops away I get my first sighting of Piles Copse. The intent is to head toward the Northern end on the left.
The terrain is very steep and rugged on the way down. The hiking poles prove to be a great asset. I begin to wonder how I ever did without them!
With a grandstand view of the copse I start identifying possible camp spots and try to head toward them.
I soon get to the track that runs along the bottom of the hill. I just need to scramble down from here to the River Erme.
It’s a little rocky on the way down, but once again the hiking poles help keep me upright.
This is my chosen crossing point. It is also the widest and deepest stream I have attempted to ford so far, so I’m a little nervous as I don’t want any accidents. Especially as my planned camp spot is just on the other side.
I get across without incident thanks to the hiking poles. These helped keep me steady and to locate the more shallow routes across. Once I climbed up the steep bank I was presented with what has to be one of the best camping spots on the Moors!
I drop the rucksack to mark my spot!
With practiced ease the tent goes up very quickly. Socks are hung up to dry with the gaiters being laid out to give them the opportunity to dry too. The sleeping bag also gets its first airing in three days.
The sign at the Northern end of the Copse.
Once the tent is up I fill up the bottles. It turned out that I didn’t need to use the spare litre that I was carrying. This meant I only needed to fill up one of the bottles.
First things first! Time to get the food on. Tonight is a freeze dried potato, dill and salmon meal from Mountain House.
Ten minutes later I have a delicious meal. I was really looking forward to this one as a result of the day’s exertions. After my meal I decide to head off straight to bed for a sound sleep!
Day 3’s camp spot at the Northern end of Piles Copse.
The night ended up being uncomfortably hot. This was such a contrast compared to the freezing temperatures of the previous two nights.
I wondered if this was down to a change in the weather or the relatively low elevation of my sheltered location? Not sure.
Despite the heat I did manage to get off to a sound sleep.
That’s it for day 3. Tune in next week for day 4 of the walk!