Hangershell Rock, Three Barrows and snow


The forecast for a bitterly cold day after some snow might not be a sign for taking a walk in fairly remote open spaces for some however it acts as a magnet for me! In practice the forecast also included sun which was good news and fairly strong winds, less good. One of the issues was where to set off from to ensure that we didn’t find ourselves on one of the many steep approach roads to Dartmoor in such icy conditions. In the end we decided to set off from Owley Corner which is relatively low down however it does mean that the walk starts with a climb up Ugborough Beacon. Getting out of the car we realised it was very cold; by the time we were at the top we realised that, with wind chill, the temperature was noticeably below zero despite some winter sun. However the moors really did look lovely and it was a pleasure to be out in such conditions. The ground under foot was hard, however on the moors that has a benefit of making the walking less damp than usual. On some of the ponds the ice was really quite thick and would take my weight – on others it wouldn’t! It was obvious as the ice broke that it had thawed and then frozen again a time or two at least given the layers in the ice. We walked from Ugborough Beacon over towards Weatherdon and then on to Hangershell Rock mostly in sunshine although the temperature seemed to remain below freezing in the wind.

We decided we would stop rather more often than usual on this walk to top up on food and drink whenever we found some shelter – relatively – from the wind. From Hangershell Rock we made our way loosely north and roughly along the line of the Redlake tramway (long disused). For this section of the walk the fairly faint sun mostly disappeared and something like very fine snow was striking our faces although it was so fine it was not actually visible.We walked on north past Piles Hill and then Sharp tor to our west and then struck off the track up towards Three Barrows (named as there are three barrows there).  Both looking north and moving north it was clear that there was more snow than to the south of us and the same applied as we climbed.  At 460 metres Three Barrows is one of the higher points on the south of Dartmoor and it certainly felt exposed when we reached the top.  In better conditions we would have stopped for a break up there but today it was a case of grabbing some pictures and then heading back down the ridge again.  We varied the route for the return trip heading rather more directly for Ugborough Beacon and then from there to the car.  It had been a great winter walk in generally very good conditions if you have the right equipment so I guess it was not that surprising that we saw a number of other people out while we walked.