Dartmoor, May 2010

‘I’m very sorry dear but the price has had to go up to £4 this year and you can’t book. It’s on a first come basis.’ Visions of a crowded, muddy field, Glastonbury-style sprang to mind, so we thought we’d better try and get there as early as possible to avoid the crush as it was a bank holiday weekend.

After negotiating some rather narrow, Devon lanes to comments, such as, ‘These roads are too small’, we arrived at Cockingford Bridge on the Friday afternoon. There were a few tents in 3 small fields by a stream. It was a beautiful spot which fortunately never became overcrowded. Dartmoor was looking rather green and lush with swathes of bluebells as opposed to its more familiar appearance of brown and bleak.

We were all rather tired from an early start so a short recce was decided upon. No sooner had we arrived at Saddle Tor and Haytor, which were just up the road, than Team Warren were discovering letterboxes left right and centre. No rock or stony outcrop was left unsearched. It does appear to be a bit of an addictive activity. John, Mike and Dick started to admire various rock routes they were hoping to climb. You can walk up to the top of Haytor via some very polished steps, so this is what I did, but was too windy to linger on top and admire the view so I came back down and watched the many foals chase each other around.

Saturday dawned wet and windy and remainde that way. Proper British bank holiday weather. (Should’ve gone to Font!?) A walk along Lustleigh Cleave, by the River Bovey was sheltered by woodland and very pleasant. Emerging from the trees to look at Hunter’s Tor and remains of the nearby Iron Age fort several miles on, we’d still not met a soul. Then suddenly there was a crowd approaching, both young and old plus dogs. It was not the Ramblers, but the residents of Lustleigh, beating the bounds. It looked very sociable. A walk alongside the river lead us back to the starting point. Ullacombe Farm café was no doubt the high point of the day for some, where a cream tea, complete with homemade clotted cream revived the inner man / woman.

On Sunday, it was an easy decision to go exploring the Moor, planning to end up at the Warren House Inn, a place where there is a wide variety of cider on offer, as opposed to going back to Haytor to climb. The sun was shining as Kim and set out, initially along the Two Moors Way. We passed Hookney Tor and then Grimspound, a large enclosing wall around the remains of 24 prehistoric huts. We passed many more tors (I never knew there were so many) and barrows. Somehow I managed to spot a letterbox. Yes, that was exciting. We saw quite a few people, many of whom appeared to be furtively looking for something amongst the many piles of rocks. Letterboxers probably. There were lots of ponies and foals which did not appear to be at all concerned by the presence of humans. Our goal, Warren House finally hove into view. We tried between us, to sample a few of the ciders, and very good they were, but we did have to get back to the campsite.

The climbers’ day at Haytor included Honeymoon Corner and Raven Gully routes. Both included challenging sections, one of which, unfortunately, challenged John’s ankle too much. One further climb was attempted by Dick, resulting in a swing from beneath an overhang and a gentle landing thanks to Nick on belay.

Dick

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