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Yes Tor Day (All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away)

Yes Tor Day (All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away)


Postby mrft » Mon Dec 26, 2011 5:41 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: High Willhays

Date walked: 26/12/2011

Time taken: 2.3

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 300m

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Boxing Day walks are more of an English tradition than a Scottish thing in my experience, but down the years I've managed a few. Beinn Ghlas (nearly), Lundin Links, Bigbury on Sea, Kinlochard, Dartington Hall. But this year whilst in Devon, I figured on a moorland trek to shake off the lethargy of the previous few days.

Setting off from Edinburgh on Christmas Eve, I spent 10 and half hours on the road (A702, A701, M74, M6, M5, A38) getting to my mother in law's in the gorgeous South Hams. 476 miles. With 2 under 5 fives in the back. It's tough gig, but I have to say this was a relatively pain free journey.

Then from 0500 on Christmas morning with the boys all excited and the ensuing present unrapping frenzy, the bombshell that I was cooking Christmas dinner that was dropped at 0800 (I took my Beach Boys SMiLE cd into the kitchen along with a glass of fizzy - prosecco? - and set to with gusto) all the way through to the inevitable tantrums as tiredness overtook them.

As I sat with a glass of fine Chilean sangiovese in the evening after the boys had been prised from their toys and put to bed, I stated my intention to leave the house at the earliest opportunity on Boxing Day and tackle Yes Tor and - more importantly - High Willhays and be back for lunch.

So, shortly after 8, I drove to Okehampton - a town I've not set foot in since I was eleven. Back at the height of my parents' drive to be the living embodement of the Good Life (although in reality my Maw is more Penelope Keith than Felicity Kendal, although the old man is definetely more Richard Briers than Paul Eddington...), we had a family holiday in North Devon in Easter 1979 in a self catering cottage near Holsworthy primarily because my father had signed up to a weekend course run by the Rare Breeds Society in rare breed pig husbandry. So, in between trips to the expansive beaches of Westward Ho!, the picture postcard twee of Clovelly and the inevitable soaking at Tintagel (I have never been there and got any less than totally drenched), we went to Okehampton. I remember little enough of it, but I have been there before. I'll remember this visit a little better, I think.

Picture 015.jpg
The starting point from Meldon Reservoir


Pulling into the car park at Meldon's reservoir, I was the only car in a vast expanse of tarmac that obviously draws the crowds in summer. Stiff breeze, persistent drizzle and clouds hanging over the 400 metre contour. Perfect conditions to blow the cobwebs away as you'll not get distracted by silly litle fripperies like views and focus on navigating your way across featureless moorland and not get myself lost.

So, I took a couple of wrong turns but soon found myself on a flat pateau and suddenly got fearful. Visibilty was rubbish and though I could almost certainly find the top (it's not difficult - as long as you keep going up, you'll get tere), I had doubts about trying to hit the path back. So, reluctantly I turned.

Picture 022.jpg
On the plateau behind Longstone Hill; can you tell which way the wind is blowing...?


Now most people suggest fortune favours the brave; this is tosh; fortune favours the lucky. After 400 yards of backtracking, the cloud suddenly lifted a little and I could see exactly where I was and although I couldn't see the top, I could see where it was, took bearings, noted landmarks and was off and up.

Picture 020.jpg
Summit of - er - dunno! Could be any of the four I passed over!


Sure, the cloud was back in around me fairly shortly afterwards, but I had my plan fixed. Onto Yes Tor, and then followed the path across to High Willhays and the last classified hill in a calendar year that has taken me as far north as HIll of Nigg in Easter Ross, my first Wainwright (Blencathra in July) and my most remote Munro to date (An Socach at the western end of Loch Mullardoch).

Picture 024.jpg
Not a sign I've ever seen before on my not insubstantial travels..!


I slither back pretty much the way I came (in that light, I may well have strayed) but I got back to the plateau, and into relatively clear conditions. So, I made it back to the dam before I saw another soul on that Boxing Day morning. Before I had crossed the dam, I was into double figures. And the car park - far from being empty now had 40 - odd cars!

I nodded knowingly, content I had had the best of the day, and drove quietly back to mayhem of my mother in law's house to the soundtrack of Balam Acab.
Picture 028.jpg
Devonshire in the gloom

Cobwebs are gone, head is clear, I was smiling from ear to ear after my bubble bath and looking forward to an afternoon of colouring in and jigsaws with Tom and pushing cars to and fro with Alex.

So that was another good day.
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mrft
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Posts: 90
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Re: Yes Tor Day (All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away)

Postby yokehead » Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:42 pm

Entertaining report, glad you got your few hours of peace even if not good weather! I remember seeing a sign like that when walking on the south coast near Lulworth - it had a bullet hole through it to add interest!
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Re: Yes Tor Day (All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away)

Postby garyhortop » Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:45 pm

Enjoyed the report and nice to see someone else walking the moor!! You are absolutely right about navigating in poor Viz....a mate of mine volunteers for DRG (Dartmoor Resuce Group) and they often invite groups from other regions to events and they find navigating the moor is...challenging ...especially in poor viz .... God favours the cautious if you ask me!
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Re: Yes Tor Day (All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away)

Postby mrft » Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:35 am

Thank you for your kind comments;

My previous (proper) mountain excursion to this was a very misty excursion to the Eastern Cairngorms; although the first summit was fairly straight forward (Ben Avon has a massive granite tor to aim for), but Beinn a Bhuird was a bit more of a mission - trying to locate a pile of rocks about the size of mini on a plateau that must feels like it must be 17 square miles in area in visibility of 100 metres or less was fun.

But on something like Beinn a Bhuird, you always have to option to find a landmark - there's a steep, deep corrie all the way down the eastern side of the summit plateau on Beinn a Bhuird, so you always have the option to start over. But to me even with a fair amount of experience, Dartmoor is extremely difficult because I'm so used to having the safety net of large, identifiable landmarks and Dartmoor doesn't do that! So, even though the distances and heights are much less than I'm used to, there's still an element of fear about getting horribly lost on the moors.

But an enjoyable morning; it was good just to be out, up a hill somewhere.
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mrft
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Posts: 90
Munros:223   Corbetts:16
Grahams:3   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:25   Hewitts:7
Wainwrights:8   Islands:11
Joined: Aug 15, 2011
Location: North Edinburgh

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