Towards the centre of the south moor

I guess this is something of a departure from the “normal” for me. I’ve been blogging my walks, frequently on Dartmoor, for quite some time now. I’ve shown photographs of those walks too. However over the past few months I’ve been drawn more to trying some monochrome photographs. I’ve been putting them on Flickr and they have been fairly well received so I thought I’d try some here. Initially I thought I’d throw in the odd monochrome amongst the usual colour ones. However, in the end, I decided “what the heck” and went for a full black and white blog. It is the first for me – who knows if it will be the last.

Hexworthy, Dartmoor, monochrome

At the start of October a spell of very wet weather broke and there had been a few days of good weather so we decided to grab the opportunity and get out. Equally we decided it would be worth heading more into the centre of the south moor given the conditions and the fact that there may well be less opportunities over the next few months.  We left the car at Hexworthy and headed mainly south initially then a little west towards Ter Hill.

The ground at this time of year often has fairly long grass and that can make for quite difficult walking.  The track towards Ter Hill can be seen above on the left and, although not wonderful, it is better than walking off the track.  Close to the summit of Ter Hill there are two ancient granite crosses.  The western one is shown above.  It has been thought that they marked an ancient track between monasteries known as the Abbots Way.  However, while there are a series of cross which could be marking a route, there would have been many times in the year when the walk would have been fairly tough to say the least.  Certainly there is a possible easier route well to the south of these crosses.

Heading west from Ter Hill we aimed for Fox Tor roughly.  Fox Tor is a fairly remote south Dartmoor tor which is not easy to get to.  To the north there is the legendary Fox Tor Mire associated with “The Hound of the Baskervilles” among other tales.  While there is a way across this is often accessible it is not recommended for those who do not know the moor.  The land to the east, south and west is frankly hard walking at most times of the year.

Tinners workings, Fox Tor, Dartmoor, monochrome

Close to Fox Tor there are a number of old tinners workings.  Given the remoteness of the area the life of the tin miners must have been hard indeed.  The area would have been worked by hand – no small undertaking in the prevailing conditions 100+ years ago.

Dartmoor, ponies, Black Lane, monochrome

Heading south from Fox Tor there really is only one sensible route to take and that is through Black Lane.  Black Lane is the remains of both peat cutting for fuel and water courses.  The ground is usually fairly bad and wet (or very wet!).  It is better that the ground away from the path though.  The long grass I referred to earlier is very prevalent here too and at times it is hard to see fairly large holes in the peat.  Both of us stumbled more than once on this walk and care is needed when the ground is like this.  The image above taken close to the start of Black Lane is my favourite from this walk without question.  It emphasises the remoteness of the area.  Equally is shows just how featureless much of the past of the central south moor is.  The two Dartmoor ponies simply show how well adapted they are to such harsh conditions.

Fishlake, Dartmoor, monochrome

Around a quarter of a mile further on the track (albeit very faint) splits.  The main branch heads south towards the Erme while the left hand fork takes you towards the upper valley of the Avon.  Taking this and again travelling over wet and rough ground brings you out in the Fishlake basin.  The granite boulders shown above are interesting as they are also the only feature in that area of the moor.  From here we headed back east and then up the river Avon to its source.  I do have pictures from there however that really is a featureless area and effectively a large bog.  It was an excellent walk and the remoteness of parts of Dartmoor really are part of the attraction for me.