This one has been a long time coming. Originally I set off to bag Hen Tor back in May however had to abort…. and this time I was determined to get up there. I visited Hen Tor many years ago and a longer walk that took in Shell Top and Shavercombe Head but my memory of it was vague at best. I do remember have seen a white stoat or weasel up there… at the time he was most put out that he’d been discovered!
I parked the car at the ‘Scout Hut’ car park close to Gutter Tor (PL20 6PG / SX578673) as I have done so many times before. There are several approached to Hen Tor and I decided I was going to cross Hentor Warren and climb up from the Plym Valley rather than attempt it from the Trowlesworthy side. I followed the track down to Ditsworthy Warren House and then followed the well-worn route down to the ‘ford’ across the River Plym. A little searching downstream found a suitable crossing place without having to remove my boots and socks and I was across. I climbed up the steep incline across Hentor Warren and admittedly wasn’t really paying attention. Before too long I found myself in amongst a rather large patch of Eriophorum Angustifolium, Bog Cotton or Elephant Grass as I call it. Dartmoor is covered in this stuff, it’s a thick reed like grass with sharp ends and tends to grow in the damper areas of the Moor and you know when you know you’re in real trouble though is when you see it in flower with its distinctive cotton wool flower head. This is a sure sign that you’ve just wandered into one of Dartmoor’s Bogs and will almost certainly will be leaving with wet feet. Luckily the weather has been really fine over the summer this year and the bog wasn’t really much of a bog and the ground pretty firm. I was able to cross to the other side with relative ease and continued toward the growing dark pile of granite of Hen Tor.
Hen Tor is pretty imposing as you approach from the Western slope. Going by the sheer amount of granite clitter strewn around the area, it was far bigger at some point in time and has collapsed quite dramatically. Nearby Legis Tor is another collapsed Tor however there is far less evidence around it. Deciding I fancied a bit of scrambling I decided to climb over the increasing amount of clitter and straight up the tor toward the summit. The granite was rough and sharp making it hard going on the hands and knees but after a good 20 minutes of scrambling I was standing on the top…. only to be greeted to a swarm of wasps who made it very clear I wasn’t welcome on the summit of ‘their’ Tor. I climbed back down a little way and found a nice ledge to perch on and make a brew while taking in the magnificent view across the Southern Moor. You can see for miles in a 180° arc. From Plymouth Sound in the south to Eylesbarrow and Nuns Cross in the north. By far the most impressive sight is toward Gutter Tor, Leather Tor & Sharpitor clustered around Burrator Reservoir. It’s worth the effort of getting out to Hen Tor for the view.
Inevitably time marched on and before too long I had to pick my way carefully down through the clitter and back toward the Plym, this time avoiding Hentor Meadow Bog. I crossed back over at the same spot and followed the short track to Ditsworthy Warren Farm and then back on the rough track to the Scot Hut car park. From back at the car, Hen Tor disappears back into the shadow of the hill. It’s rare to see Hen Tor illuminated by the sun, for the most part it sits in shadow looking dark and menacing but don’t let this put you off…. it’s another fabulous view that’s worth the effort to bag.
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