Another murky wet Sunday morning; it felt as though there have been an awful lot of these lately. For the last couple of weeks I’d had my sights set on Shavercombe Waterfall and had set my heart on it for this weekend. The forecast for the weekend had been good right up until Friday when it suddenly changed…..
… time for a rethink. I decided to do something else in that area instead and thought I’d head up the track from the Scout Hut toward Eylesbarrow. I’d walked along this track earlier last year (on the hottest day) of the year, and headed up to Eylesbarrow summit and then left to Combeshead Tor but this time I decided to turn ‘right’ at the top. I parked at the Scout Hut close to Gutter Tor (PL20 6PG / SX578673) and followed the track up toward Eylesbarrow for just over 2Km. The mist came and went as I climbed up and there were glimpses of the surrounding landscape at times. It’s very easy to become disorientated in the Dartmoor mist but as I was following a track it wasn’t a great problem. I came to the old mine workings and a split in the track and stopped to check my GPS. Although I couldn’t see it I know that Higher Hartor sat about half a mile south(ish) of where I was so I decided to wonder off track and see if I could find it; I know the area pretty well and so wasn’t too worried about not being able to see anything! After climbing over the remains of the mine, I was able to pick up a track which went in the direction I was going so I followed it and soon I was rewarded with the sight of a low-laying Tor emerging from the fog, it was Highter Hartor. Visibility was down to less than 10m most of the time however I decided to push down into the Plym Valley, find Lower Hartor and then make my way back to Ditsworthy following the river.
I’ve written before about GPS units and how, as much as I love mine, it’s not a replacement for map and compass. When I carry my GPS I always carry spare batteries but more importantly I have my OS Map and Suunto Compass in my daysack. GPS units can be lost (which I experienced last year), can be broken, malfunction or run out of battery. Always carry a map and compass… and know how to use them!! A few years ago I was on the other side of the Plym on Langcombe Hill, in the middle of a huge bog when the mist descended and left me with less than 5m of visibility. It was only because I was able to use my compass and map that I was able to get myself off the hill safely….. Lecture Over!
Lower Hartor was fairly easy to find as I dropped lower the mist receded enough for me to see it laying a little further down the valley. I brief rest stop and some photographs and I set off again, slowly making my way toward the river and following it downstream. I was now below the mist and was able to see the distant trees at Ditsworthy. I was able to pick up the narrow path the sits half way up the side of the valley and worked my way toward Drizzlecombe and before too long I spotted the top of the familiar Menhir that marks the eastern end of the stone rows. I carried on straight past the stone rows and made my way toward Ditsworthy, picking my way across the heavily boggy and wet area where a little brook cuts down to the Plym, before the small climb up to Ditsworthy Warren House.
I can’t ever just pass this place, I always have to stop and look around… there is something that draws me in and means I have to stop and spend time there. I feel like this about many places I have visited on the Moor but there is something special about DWH. I spent some time just walking around and taking it in before heading back along the well beaten track back to the Scout Hut stopping only to briefly chat with a couple of walkers. Getting back to the car it was time for a well-earned brew before setting off for home and having to wait another week before I escaped again.