Walking around the centre of southern Dartmoor

A wet track on southern Dartmoor

Looking back quite a few posts recently have related to the coast so I thought it was time to return to the moors.  These are from a walk a week or so back.  While we have walked the moors at night for many years we are less keen these days and so we try and get out in the daytime when we can.  It rained hard the day before and we set off knowing it was likely to be very wet under foot and we were proved correct!  Much of the time the tracks were more like streams.


We walked from Nun’s Cross area south along the track to Eylesbarrow and then headed east over the Plym and then towards Erme Pits which is a very old tin mine working near the centre of the southern moor.  The mine workings there are both extensive and in places quite deep.  What was achieved by men working solely with their hands and basic tools in a very remote part of Dartmoor never ceases to amaze me.

Erme valley

From here we walked along one of the old workings towards Ducks Pool stream and stopped to look back down the valley of the Erme.  This part of Dartmoor sees very few people particularly in the winter and it always feels fairly remote here which is something I love about the area.  Equally, in winter, the low and often “watery” light, adds to the beauty of the moors for me.

Overlooking Fox Tor Mire

Heading north through a peat cut – any ancient trans moor track through (very) bad ground brought us out at Fox Tor and it seemed a good time to stop for a late lunch.  The view across the centre of the moors looking northwards from there was great.

Sheep on Fox Tor

We were not the only ones at Fox Tor!  It was quite a windy day with the temperature down towards zero with the wind chill and even the sheep were staying in the lee of Fox Tor (which is really quite a small tor).

Childe's tomb

Dropping down from the tor brought us into Fox Tor mire which is quite well known for being the setting for the Hound of the Baskerville’s story by Conan Doyle (as Grimpen Mire).  The area has a lot of historical interest.  Tin mining was prevalent in the area and there are a number of ancient (& more modern) crosses.  While the area is a peat bog it is quite possible to walk across it in reasonable conditions if you know the area well (& I would stress that – one of those “do not try this for yourself” ones).  The image above is of Childe’s Tomb – the legend is an interesting one and the Wikipedia article is quite good in this case (rather less interesting on Fox Tor though).

Around Fox Tor mire

Heading west again now along the edge of the peat bog, we started the walk back to the car.  The relatively short walk was actually over some of the worst ground conditions we had encountered all day despite being on a “path” for most of the time.  We seemed to be wading as much as we were walking.  The conditions are not unique to the winter either – I have crossed the bog in winter when it has been dry and failed to do so in a wet summer.  The above shot looks back towards Fox Tor and again catches a feel of the remoteness.  Hopefully there will be a few more winter walks over the next few weeks.

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