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North Dartmoor - Cranmere Pool and a few Tors
by garyhortop » Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:30 pm
Date walked: 31/03/2012
Time taken: 5
Distance: 22.7 km
Ascent: 611mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
As I mentioned in my last post....not one to be fazed by a challenge I decided to go for Cranmere Pool on April Fools day!
Not sure who the fool is though!!
The walk starts at Belstone and I have discovered a place to park by the old pumping station near Belstone Gate on to the Moor. My guess is that come the busier season this won't be possible and you will have to park and start your walk from the village car park! GR OL28 617934
It was a glorious morning so decided to get a wiggle on and take the easiest and most direct route to reach Cranmere Pool and essentially this is via the miltary Roads that exist on this part of the moor as most of this walk comes within the Dartmoor ranges - so remember to check Firing times!! (unlike me at the first attempt! - Lesson learned!)
However, don't be fooled by the track walking as it isn't quite so tedious as you might first expect as the surrounding views up onto the moorland are quite spectacular. You meander along the track between East Mill Tor to the west and Belstone Tor, Oke tor and Steeperton Tor to your east - catching the odd tantalising glimpses of what will follow later.
Eventually the track starts its climb up towards Okement Hill and as you summit Okement Hill you get some good views across to Yes Tor, High Willhays and the surrounding Moor. There is also an open observation post here as well - so if the weather is bad you can take shelter here for well earned hot drink - tho a cold drink was more in order today!!
You carry on past the summit, stying on the track heading roughly south. You then need to keep your eye open to your right as a somewhat faded track leads off to your right and after a few minutes walking you reach a pool at the end of the track. Here the compass has to come out and you will need to take a bearing and walk that bearing to get across to Cranmere Pool. Luckily today was so clear you could see across to the river valley of West Okement Head. So it was more of a question of reaching the stream and following it up to the head of the valley. A warning tho!...this was still quite boggy even after all the dry weather we have had...so not sure it would be much fun after a week or two or rain!
So after a bit of bog trotting we finally made it to Cranmere Pool....so what's all the fuss!? well none to be frank! The pool was a puddle!! Although that said there is some interesting history here! For those amongst you that have heard of "Dartmoor letterboxing" this was where it all started in 1854 when a Dartmoor Guide called James Perrott of Chagford placed a jar here where visitors who were visiting were able to leave a card to prove they had made it! The game slowly evolved into a real pastime on the moor with literally hundreds placed over the moor now! You can even collect the stamps in each! (Ink stamps that is). It is also supposed to be haunted by the spirit of Benjie Gear who as a punishment was tasked to empty the pool with a sieve (they give some strange punishments in Devon!!). The register here is also the only one that makes its way to Okehampton Museum where they are all kept - so don't forget to sign the book for posterity's sake! (Still can't get the dogs to keep still for a picture!!)
From the pool I headed up onto the "ridge" rather than head back the way I came. I then took an almost straight line to Hangingstone Hill (with a bit more bogtrotting) and made my way up to the bit of a saddle between the two highest points. I headed a little further south to have a look at the memorial stone on the adjacent summit to HH. It is a memorial to the fella that made the peat pass around this summit - I can imagine after alot of rain this place would not be a alot of fun!! Peat pases exist in various places on the moor where the peat is dug out until firm ground is reached to enable (some years ago) cattle and traders and hunters to pass through without disappearing in the bog! The fella that dug this pass was actually responsible for 9 passes on the moor and he passed away (from exhaustion probably) in 1909.
Following the peat pass and obvious path you circle just below the summit of Hangingstone Hill and then it heads up direct to the top. There are some nice views from the top. You are then essentially going to head back along the Tor line in the direction form which you came (with a few detours in my case!)
From HH head towards Wild Tor and then take the path leading right toward Watern Tor. You drop down into the valley of Watern Coombe and then up the other side (paying attention to the warning signs - just in case you are in any doubt!!) to Watern Tor - probably one of the more spectacular Tors in terms of rock formations!
From Watern Tor take a bearing on Wild tor and head back down the coombe and up the other side following the line of red and white boundary markers (artillery range markers) and then cut up inside them to the summit of Wild Tor.
From Wild Tor you head toward Steeperton Tor dropping down into Steeperton Brook - again like a lot of Dartmoor this area has been mined extensively and there is evidence in the remains of the Tinners old Blowing Houses.
A further climb up leads you onto the summit of Steeperton Tor - again some good views all around here and when you look at the next part of the walk down into Steeperton Gorge...makes you realise what a good idea it was to approach form this side and not the North or West!
You then head down a steep incline into the gorge....I came down a bit too far North so headed up the stream to the old Bridge at Knack Mine and crossed the river here. This looks like quite a nice picnic spot or camping spot if you need it! Apparently the mine was here until the 1870's and the ford is much older having been made by the peat cutters in the area. Its thought to have been a clapper (stone) bridge that collapsed or was washed away after the mine was closed but you can still see plently of evidence of it!
An obvious path leads up the other side of the gorge and back onto the military road that you follow for a short distance before heading off towards Oke Tor with some interesting rock forrmations on the summit!
From here follow the obvious route onto Higher Tor and Belstone Tor and look out on the western Side of Belstone tor for the "Irishman's Wall". The story goes that sometime in the early 1800's 2 "gentlemen" were wanting to enclose some land on the moor and employed a gang of Irish labourers to build it for them. Local folk viewed this with some distaste and where slightly in awe of the "gang's" ability to work on the moor barefooted in all weather . Eventually the Men of Belstone and Okehampton got together and one night when the wall was nearing completion turned out in force and toppled the wall with "stout wooden poles". Apparently the "gentlemen" and labourers disappeared shortly afterwards! The wall itself stretches about a 1000 yards...no mean feat really!
Finally you drop down back towards Belstone and I took a slight detour off to go and see the Nine Maindens (also known as the seventeen brothers!). These are believed to be the remains of a bronze age burial site - don't count them - you'll get a different answer each time! One Legend has it that the stones still dance, usually at noon, and that they can also be seen to move if atmospheric conditions are right...and it is mentioned in one book I have read that there is photo evidence form 1985 of one of the stones having moved temporarily into the centre of the circle!
You make your own mind up! Personally...I suspect too much local cider was involved!
A great day out....you could also extend this walk to take in Yes Tor and High Willhays quite easily depending on time, daylight and stamina available!
- 30. Nine Maidens on Belstone Common
by willywalker247 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:01 pm
by houdi » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:10 pm
Incidentally, I climbed Watern Tor, straight up the right hand stack, in your pic 16, on the extreme left hand side next to the gap. My mate, Stu, went up the easy way and then bottled out of jumping across from one to the other. I like Watern Tor. The layered rocks are pretty ususual even for Dartmoor.
by SusieThePensioner » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:23 pm
It was our 40th wedding anniversay on the 1st, just happened to be Easter Saturday the year we got marriedgaryhortop wrote:As I mentioned in my last post....not one to be fazed by a challenge I decided to go for Cranmere Pool on April Fools day!
Not sure who the fool is though!!
by ChrisW » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:45 am
by garyhortop » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:39 pm
willywalker247 wrote:Great report Gary. Lot of interesting history some great photos.
Thanks Chris..I am trying to notch up a few trips ready for your next visit!!
by garyhortop » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:42 pm
Hi Houdi...if you ever fancy meeting up at any point for a bit of a wander happy to do so just PM me...or just keep a look out on the Moor for a short fat baldy with a border terrier and a Chihuahua....you don't see many!!
by garyhortop » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:44 pm
SusieThePensioner wrote:Pleased to read another report on Dartmoor, Gary, and such wonderful weather Again, lots of interesting facts as well, thank you. Enjoyed your photosIt was our 40th wedding anniversay on the 1st, just happened to be Easter Saturday the year we got marriedgaryhortop wrote:As I mentioned in my last post....not one to be fazed by a challenge I decided to go for Cranmere Pool on April Fools day!
Not sure who the fool is though!!
Glad you enojyed it Susie and congratulations on the 40th Anniversary!! I think you must be the first person I have come across with a wedding anniversary on the 1st April!!
by garyhortop » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:46 pm
ChrisW wrote:Lovely report Gary, full of interesting titbits and bursting with place names that make me yearn for home.....maybe I'll have to come home for a week or two later in the year.......dammit man you could have cost me a fortune
LOL Chris.....not sure how Dartmoor will compare with Canada and if you do make it home I am always happy to join you on a wander across the moor.....might have to make a reciprocal visit a condition tho!! Always fancied going back to Canada (No Bears or Puma's tho please!)!
by jaybee » Fri Apr 06, 2012 4:32 pm
Moved to Scotland in October after spending a very happy summer tramping all over Dartmoor.
We walked to Cranmere via the Belstone ridge and back the way you walked in last July.
Very different ground conditions though, I was glad of my walking pole to test the depth of the peat bog in places.
It's a great place for walking with some lovely tors and views. Can be quite challenging terrain, especially in poor visibility.
Thanks for the photos and walk description, brought back some good memories.
by houdi » Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:00 pm
garyhortop wrote:Hi Houdi...if you ever fancy meeting up at any point for a bit of a wander happy to do so just PM me...or just keep a look out on the Moor for a short fat baldy with a border terrier and a Chihuahua....you don't see many!!
Cheers, Gary, I'll definitely take you up on that. It'll be interesting to see a Chihuahua on Dartmoor. Bet it can't get up onto the summit stack on Great Staple Tor
by garyhortop » Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:00 am
by garyhortop » Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:01 am
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