Grimspound – Not So Grim This Time Around

A couple of weeks ago we did a moorland walk around Grimspound.  It was almost a year to the day since we had last been there doing the same walk. Last time though the weather was inclement. There did come a point when the mist started to draw in that we seriously began to think about calling it a day and heading back to the car. I say we, I mean me as I’m the sensible one. Simon would have carried on in monsoon conditions. He’s brave/silly like that (delete as you feel appropriate).

GrimspoundHe persuaded me to carry on by telling me that I was an ‘all weather Dean’ and it would be ‘an adventure’. Why do I fall for it every time? It’s like the time he called me a ‘sea-faring princess’ when we were bobbing up and down in a stupid fishing boat off the coast of Madeira. I think he is just overly optimistic about my capabilities. Anyway, here I am last year in the rain.

We always said we would go back when it was sunny and so that is what we did. The plan was to get there early as we wanted to beat 1) the heat and 2) the bank holiday trippers. We arrived just before 9am and parked up in a small car park about 200 metres from the Warren House Inn.

We immediately walked by Bennet’s Cross and up along part of the Two Moors Way to Hookney Tor.

Bennets Cross Dartmoor

Hookney Tor

The weather was wildly different as you can see. Lovely blue skies, green grass and a carpet covering of heather across the moor. After sitting at the top for several minutes to take in the panoramic views we headed down the other side of the Tor towards the great man made stone circle that just sticks right out on this wild, uncultivated landscape. It is a bronze age settlement made up of 24 granite round houses. The shape of some of these houses is still visible today, as is the huge perimeter wall.

Grimspound Hut Circle

We left Grimspound by walking down the hill to the road. We turned left and walked along the road for a couple of minutes before making a sharp right down a track that leads to a farm house B&B. It feels a bit like you are walking along someone’s drive way (which you are) but it is a public footpath. There are signs as you near the house directing you up and over the back onto a path that eventually leads you to the Warren House Inn. It is very up and down and uneven underfoot but the scenery is worth it. When we reached the stream, instead of going up the steep hill to the Inn we turned right in the hope we would come out closer to the car. There was a reasonably easy path to follow that ran by an old fenced off mine of some sort.

And there we were back at the car in no time and not a drop of rain in sight the whole walk!

Duration: 2 hours / fairly easy

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Deans in Wales – Climbing Cnicht

Back in the middle of May (yes, I’m still behind) we went to see Josh Groban in concert in Cardiff. We decided to take in a couple of mountains whilst we were there. Unfortunately the week before I had a tooth removed and the thing didn’t heal properly. I was in a lot of pain but thanks to some strong painkillers I made it through the concert. Boy, Josh Groban can sing.

The next day we were supposed to be heading to Snowdonia to  do our first mountain, my first mountain ever – Cnicht. I was feeling so poorly with my wretched tooth (or tooth hole to be more accurate) that we were on the verge of going home. However, I managed to get an appointment at an emergency dentist. He miraculously covered the tooth hole to protect it and within a couple of hours the pain had reduced by around 75%! We drove up to Snowdonia and I don’t remember much about it as I slept pretty much all the way. It did me good though as the next day I was refreshed, almost completely out of pain and ready for some walking!

We had stayed at the YHA Pen-y-Pass that night. Having never stayed in a hostel before we were a bit surprised to find ourselves in a tiny room with bunk-beds but it was clean and in a stunning location. Below are a couple of shots in the vicinity of the hostel taken the night we arrived.

Pen y Pass YHA
Looking up at the mighty Snowdon was pretty spectacular. Continue reading

Sourton Tours & The Granite Way

I am a bit behind with our blog posts at the moment. We did this Sourton Tors walk nearly a month ago and have done two Dartmoor walks and a mountain in Wales since! I have a bit of a cold this weekend and so am snuggled in bed writing this whilst Simon cooks tonight’s dinner (step by step instructions on how to make roast potatoes have had to be given).

Anyway, back to what was our longest walk to date – Sourton Tors to Meldon Reservoir and back along the Granite Way.

It was a beautifully sunny afternoon when we did this walk. We parked in the free car park opposite “the most unusual pub in Britain” (the Highway Man).

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There is a path that runs down the right hand side of the parish church and on to the moor.

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Belston, Higher Tor and The Nine Maidens

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.

Belston Stocks

Dartmoor Ponies

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Okehampton – When You Forget Your Shoes

When we visited Lydford Gorge a few weeks ago we picked up a new book of Dartmoor walks in the gift shop. Last Saturday we set out to do a walk on Belston and the high moor but on the way Simon realised he had forgotten his walking shoes. It’s a bit like the time he forgot to put the pasta in a pasta bake but I’ll save that story for another time. Fortunately, on the next page of the book, we found an easy walk around Okehampton that he could do in his normal shoes. We parked just off the main street and proceeded to the start point in Simmons Park.

Simmons Park Okehampton

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Lydford Gorge – A Little Weekend Adventure

Last Saturday we went to Lydford Gorge just outside of Okehampton. I had wanted to go there for a while but decided to wait until the spring when all the footpaths are fully open. Saying that, when we arrived we were advised that part of one path (under the road bridge after the Devil’s Cauldron) was closed due to a tree fall.

I’m not sure what we thought we would see, we knew there was a waterfall and a few steep climbs, but it far surpassed our expectations.

The route around the gorge is one way for safety reasons but more on that later. We started on the upper path with views through the trees down to the river below.

There were a lot of steps here and we found parts of the ground underfoot quite slippery. As with many places on Dartmoor, water seemed to seep from every crevice and many trees were green and moss covered.

Dartmoor Moss
Lydford Gorge Moss

There were several steams which crossed the path and lots of evidence of fallen trees – the aftermath of a very stormy winter.
Simon at Lydford

As we reached the half-way point we began to hear the roar of the White Lady waterfall.
Lydford - half way point

After crossing a wooden bridge we had two route options to choose from to get down the gorge; long & easy or short & steep. Obviously we went for short & steep! This turned out to be a zigzag path that resembled a queuing rail at a theme park. We caught little glimpses of the waterfall on the way down but it only came into full view when we emerged out of the trees at the bottom.
White Lady Waterfall

The path underfoot became super interesting from here on in! The bank was mostly rock, which rose and fell as it followed the contours of the river. At times there were steps with iron hand rails on one side and a drop to the water below on the other! The narrow path on this section would make passing people coming in the other direction quite dangerous and we really began to understand why it was one way.
Scary steps

We then reached the Tunnel Falls – a series of large potholes caused by erosion. The path here became a wooden walkway.
Lydford Tunnel Falls

After more scrambling, through a tunnel and up and down more hair-raising steps you emerge in a lovely flat ‘rest area’. The water here is calm and the path is flat and easy. We soon realised that we didn’t have much time for a rest though. Immediately up ahead was the Devil’s Cauldron. The gorge narrows and the walls run wild with green moss.
Lydford Gorge

The first part of the path to the Cauldron is metal and fenced in on the gorge side but after passing through a tiny gate you are on your own! The steps down are under a jutting out rock which has a handrail on one side and nothing but fresh air on the other. The noise is much more intense here and the air becomes wet and misty. The Devil’s Cauldron itself is a very large pool into which the river forcefully flows. The water here has the appearance of boiling which is probably what inspired the name!
Devils Cauldron

We carefully climbed back up and came out near the high road bridge.

Due to the closure of this section we made our way back to the car park, stopping at the visitor centre to buy another book of local walks on the way.

We both really enjoyed this varied and interesting walk and will no doubt be spending much time here in the future.

 

Sticklepath to Belston – Part of the Tarka Trail

“The Tarka Trail is 180 miles long and follows in the footsteps of the character Tarka the Otter from Henry Williamson’s famous novel. The Trail splits into 2 loops centred at Barnstaple and is a great way to explore the world class environment of North Devon’s UNESCO Biosphere that stretches from Dartmoor to Lundy and Exmoor to Hartland.”Tarka Trail Circular Routes

When last staying with Simon’s parents we spotted their copy of Tarka the Otter and decided to borrow it. Whilst the descriptions of the Devonshire countryside are beautiful, it is quite a laborious read. The most exciting thing we took away from the book was learning that in Devon Hedgehogs can also known as vuzz-pegs! Very sweet and appropriate!

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