Higher White Tor

When I walked up to Whistman’s Wood  a couple of months ago, I spotted a substantial tor sitting just above the wood which turned out to be Longaford Tor, in fact on that same ridge there are six tors in a row. I plotted a route to try and bag all six deciding that I could start at Two Bridges, finish at Postbridge and get the bus back to Two Bridges which would allow me to extend my walk deeper into the Moor.

I parked in the Car Park at Two Bridges (SX609750 / PL20 6SW) opposite the Two Bridges Hotel and headed out along the track toward Whistman’s Wood. Immediately after the little house the path split and I headed along the right hand track toward Crocken Tor. After about half a kilometre and sharp climb I reached the two granite stacks that make up Crocken Tor. The tor is famous as being the seat of the ‘Stannary Parlianment‘ between the 14th and 18th centuries. The tor sat on the boundaries of the four stannary areas of Ashburton, Chagford, Tavistock and Plympton and for each assembly, 24 members of each area were summoned to Crocken Tor for the meeting which probably lasted for several days. Approaching the Tor is was easy to see why it was used as a meeting place as it’s setting presents a natural amphitheatre . In folklore the tor is also associated with Old Crocken, a mystical figure who is said to have galloped across the Moor on the skeleton of his horse and followed by his pack of faithful hell hounds which lived in nearby Whistman’s Wood. Unfortunately they appeared to be out on the day I visited.

From Crocken Tor I was able to pick up a rough track which lead up a steady incline toward Littaford Tors. Interestingly the tor is named plurally and as I approached it became obvious why. Littaford Tors is made up of several individual low-laying tors with one main outcrop. Visually Littaford is nothing to write home about however I will say the views that were now emerging as I progressed further up the Dart valley were spectacular; it had been a while since I’d experienced warm sunny weather out on the Moor and it felt great to have sun on my face again.

As I headed north the next target came into view having been obscured up to now by Littaford Tors. Longaford Tor; imposing, vast and striking, it loomed up out of the ground as a spectacular conical mass of granite. There are other examples of this ‘kind’ of Tor across Dartmoor however Longaford felt quite different to the likes of Leather Tor or Hen Tor. Of course I had to climb it and before too long I was perched on the top taking in the sublime views that the summit offered. Out to the West was the massive Beardown Tor, Lydford Tor, Devils Tor and the rather strange Rough Tor. Fron a distance the profile is strange and unnatural and it’s only when you visit the Tor you realise that there is an observation post perched on the top; the tor sits on the boundary of Merrivale range and during live firing is used to keep watch ensuring nobody (or animals) venture onto the range. Along with the flag pole and a few other pieces of hardware, from a distance it does indeed look like a submarine (I took this photo back in 2010).

After a rest, snack and drink it was time to carry on up to Highter White Tor. I climbed back down Longaford Tor and followed the track as it gently climbed toward the summit. Higher White Tor is the highest tor on this part of the Moor and again the full 360º view from the summit was quite simply breath-taking. Out to the north is the most remote and inaccessible areas of Darmoor, difficult to reach because of the vast Dartmoor bogs that block easy access from the south. These days that part of the moor is easier to get to by approaching from the North Moor on military tracks. There wasn’t a breath of wind on the top of Higher White Tor however I couldn’t really justify another stop so headed on toward Lower White Tor which, like Littaford Tor wasn’t really much to see.

Carrying on down the hill to Hollowcombe Bottom I then found myself with a rather imposing climb up to Broad Down. I must admit when I plotted the route I didn’t pay too much attention to the contour lines as they weren’t too close together, however after several miles of walking and quite a bit of ascending, I was really starting to feel it. I plodded up the hill, stopping regularly to catch my breath (or ‘view breaks’ as I like to call them!) and by the time I reached the shallow granite summit of Broad Down I decided it was time for a banana, drink and five minutes to let my lungs catch up.

Initially I had planned on heading east until I picked up the East Dart and then follow it to Postbridge, however I noticed just a mile further north there was a waterfall marked on the OS map and after a little digging on Google for photos, I decided it was worth the extra effort to go and take a look, especially with the sun shining as it was. The ground I was now crossing had become rough and then got pretty steep as it dropped down to the River. Before long I realised that I’d just given myself a whole load more climbing to get myself back out of valley. My legs weren’t too happy at that point however I reached the waterfall and immediately I knew I’d made the right choice, it was stunning, really pretty and I was the only person around. At the top of the falls were large granite slabs that had small channels running between them which split and carried the Dart before it tumbled down around a 3m drop. The water cascading down created a refreshing cooling spray which felt great in the warm sun.

After about twenty minutes it was time to tackle that hill and climb back up and make my way down to Postbridge. I found a nice track that skirted around the hill, following the contours and then down the valley toward Postbridge passing the giant Heartland Tor on the way. I had originally considered bagging this one on this walk however I figured that by that point into my adventure, the last thing I’d want to be doing is climbing another Tor. It was hard work making my way down the valley, the gorse was really thick and boundary walls made it tricky to get to where I wanted. A few times I got stuck and had to back-track to find a way around and eventually I was able to cross Braddon Lake before hooking up with the bridal path that lead to the rear of the visitor’s centre in Postbridge. I was properly exhausted by the time I got there and made my way back to Two Bridges using public transport before heading home.

This was something a little different, much further and deeper than I’d walked in a while and with double the amount of climbing of any walk in the last twelve months. It was a challenge and I was really happy that I’d settled on that route. Roll on the next one…..

Walk Summary

Distance
Ranges
Bogs
Difficulty
This walk is 12.4km / 7.7mi
No part of this route crosses into any military ranges
There are no bogs
Moderate

Route

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Photos from this walk