They said it would be hotter than Spain last weekend. At times it was and we certainly tried to make the most of it. Simon’s parents came to stay for the weekend and his dad, being a super keen walker, decided to come with us on our Saturday ramble. As the weather was promising to be bright and clear we decided to do a proper ‘moor’ walk starting from the highest village in Dartmoor – Belston. And yes, this is the walk we originally planned to do on the day that Simon forgot his shoes a couple of weeks ago.
We arrived in Belston at 9am and, as per our instructions, parked in the free car park opposite the Village Hall. We walked by the old stocks and stray dog pound and came out next to the common where several ponies were nibbling the grass.
Following the road around the common, we made a slight ascent to Birchy Lake before taking a right at the fork and passing through a metal gate on to the open moor. The path underfoot was very rocky and steep at first before levelling out and offering stunning views almost in every direction.
We followed this path for a good mile or so; the river glistening in the sunshine down on our left and the yellow gorse offering a hiding place for the sheep who were dashing out of our way.
We saw some Land Rovers in the distance and believe they were somehow involved in the Ten Tors challenge which was going on nearby. After nearly missing our turning – “turn right at the large boulder” being fairly ambiguous in this type of landscape – we headed off the path and on to a grassy uphill track. I found this uphill section quite hard and had to stop to catch my breath (or check the directions ;p) a couple of times. Emerging up the hill we then saw the rocky summit of Higher Tor beyond. Simon’s dad was off. He had scrambled up the majority of it before Simon and I had even got to the bottom!
Not wanting to be outdone by someone in their mid-sixties, we followed his lead and climbed up. The view was spectacular. You could see for miles around. We sat down for several minutes just to take it all in.
The way back down was quote rocky and very uneven under foot. I should know better than to follow Simon when he suggests a short cut! After this steep descent we picked up the route again and followed an old military road which heads back towards Belston.
This section of the walk was busier than the first half and we passed a number of walkers and horse riders out enjoying the warm weather (like us). Again, this path was uphill. Towards the top we followed a side track off to our right to go and see the Nine Maidens stone circle. Legend has it that women were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday!
Once back on the old military road we followed it back down into Belston, through the village and back to the car.
All in all we were out for about 2.5 hours.
That afternoon we headed into Okehampton to see The Jungle Book at the cinema as it is Simon’s mum’s favourite film. It far exceeded my expectations and the cinema in Okehampton has the most leg room of any I have ever been to (that is no mean feat when you are 6ft tall).
We took a little stroll around Simmons Park after the film to stretch our legs.
On Sunday Simon and his dad went out early to do another walk – the Fingle Bridge to Castle Drogo circuit. I don’t know how they managed it as my legs were still achy from the day before. We met them in the Castle Drogo cafe after they had finished. I bought a couple of books from their second hand book stand (great idea National Trust) and then we had a wonder around the garden.
Alan spotted a croquet lawn and quickly roped us all in to a game. He is pretty good at it, like most games he plays.
I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would and I wasn’t terrible at it like I am when he gets a game of tiddywinks going. The weather was glorious and we enjoyed the game, even if we were beaten by Simon’s folks.
A very nice weekend had by all!