Sara, our daughter and her boy friend Steve were visiting us and I wanted to offer them a quick walk on the day of their arrival in the UK from the States to help them get over their jet lag, to celebrate the 4th July and of course to give them a reason to visit a Dartmoor pub, this time the Prince of Wales in Princetown.
Many Ramblers who hear the name Four Winds respond where ???? Although quite a spacious car park it is not one frequently used by our group, although it is ideally situated for a romp up to Great MIS Tor.
This walk is of the order of 5 to 6 miles in length and does not go to Great MIS Tor although it can be linked with the other walk described from Four Winds to make it an 8 mile walk or longer which will take you up there.
We left the Four Winds Car Park, out of the back of the car park, once a school incidentally, and emerged by the side of a small stream.
We turned left and more or less followed the stream upstream and then swung across it after about 300 yrds. Once over the stream we made our way across to the site of an old quarry, now flooded.
Although not shown on the map, it is called East Meads Quarry.
A look round the quarry and then we were off heading up towards the first Tor I aimed to visit.
We passed by the remains of some old cottages and then across a rough track which leads right across past Yellowmead Farm and on by Foggintor.
Once across the track we were on tussocks although paths were there if we could find them. We headed up on a bearing of 100 degrees and after a quarter mile we arrived at Hollow Tor.
Looking back, the views were good and I could see many of the Tors I intended to visit on the walk.
From Hollow Tor, we swung north east and walked along narrow tracks, mostly sheeps tracks across level ground, for 1/3 mile, until we reached a Tor which bears the name of the area in which it is located, Rundlestone.
Rundlestone Tor is a relatively flat Tor and we didn't spend over long there. We were after bigger and higher Tors and the next one on our itinerary is definitely highly visible for miles around, although not for the Tor itself, which, I have to admit, is more inconspicuous than its neighbour Rundlestone.
The Tor in question is North Hessary Tor with its 800 ft ex TV mast indeed visible for many miles all round Dartmoor.
North Hessary Tor is very easy to climb as it is just one small lump of granite, perhaps 15 feet high, with a concrete trig point on top.
The views from it looking out over the buildings comprising the complex are very good, due of course entirely to the large hill on which the small Tor sits.
From the Tor we made our way down to the left of the buildings and then we started the longest descent of the day.
Our next target was Foggintor, not visible when approached from North Hessary Tor until you are practically on top of it, literally.
Once you are around North Hessary buildings simply head downhill south west, which if you are unlucky will approaching a mile of tussock hopping.
Look carefully however and you will see there is a nice track leading most of the way down leaving you only 1/4 mile at the end when the path disappears. Towards the end the ground could be rather wet although when we did it, in midsummer, it was very dry.
Almost there and still no sight of a Tor. Over a little rise and down the other side and a huge hole in the ground is in front of you. This hole in the ground is all that remains of Foggintor, following many, many years of granite quarrying in the area. Nevertheless, Foggintor is a very attractive hole in the ground with an accessible pool and vertical walls ideal for climbers and abseilers. It is a lovely spot to sit and enjoy a drink and shelter from the hostile conditions which may be all around you on the higher moors.
To get into the Tor make your way down and to the right of the Tor until you reach the track you crossed before going to the first Tor and then just walk into it.
When we were there the Army was there too, busily practicing cliff climbing skills. Although it is possible to walk right through the Tor, we elected to glance at it and then continue along the track, passing the ruins of several cottages which were inhabited up to to 1950.
We continued along the track heading towards the line of the old railway which once linked Plymouth to Princetown.
Before reaching it we turned off the track and headed on 250 degrees on a track across and up towards another Tor which was rather more visible than Foggintor had been.
There was a small Tor off to our left but were headed up and soon before us, another hole in the ground and the site of another quarry.
This Tor is called SwellTor and although very heavily excavated there is still some more rock around than is apparent with Foggintor.
I'm not sure whether the Tor off to our right was once part of Swell Tor or not, it is far enough away to the south east to be a Tor in it's own right.
It is rather more difficult to get down to the base of this Tor so we simply looked down into it.
From there we picked our way around to the right of the Tor and then set off across relatively level but tussocky ground north west across to the most visible Tor of the lot and one which is rather less quarried than those we had just visited, this one is King's Tor.
For some reason we elected not to make our way up to the top of this Tor but contented ourselves just walking round the fringes of it.
From the northern side of the Tor we had great views right across the valley, Merrivale Newtake and Grt MIS Tor high above us to the North.
From this Tor there is a short but steep descent down and across the line of the railway before a less steep descent down to the corner of the enclosed land, enclosed of course with the usual dry stone wall.
We followed the dry stone wall down to a brook which runs right down the valley and into the river Walkham.
There is a ford across the brook but it is easier to follow the brook a little further down and look for some large stones which usually enable it to be crossed without getting wet feet, which you most certainly would if you crossed via the Ford.
Over the brook, I wanted to show everyone the tall Menhir, about 500 yards to the north west. We walked across some old open cast mine workings then out and up to the down and along to the clearly visible standing stone.
Following posing for the standing stone picture, we made our way a few yards north to visit another bronze age artifact, a stone circle, nicely rounded.
It had obviously been renovated not that long before and I recall reading how the Victorians had been very keen to re-erect fallen stones, well they are still standing, a century later.
From the stone circle across to yet another bronze age specimen, this time a stone row, except that this was a double stone row.
We headed east along the line of the double stone row and half way along we came up the remains of a kistvaen.
This area is certainly rich in bronze age archaeology.
I couldn't help but ponder on what tribes must have been living here 2500 years ago.
Ahead of us we could see the tree surrounded Four Winds Car Park although such was the cover provided by the trees, there was no way of telling it was a car park.
On the way back uphill slightly heading east we had to cross over a stream running down.
It was the same one we had crossed at the start of the walk,.
It was was easy to do following the dress rehearsal once all across, we made our way back to the car park and in through the front entrance, rather than the back way out that we had used at the start.
It had been a walk of 5.5 miles with plenty of interest, all those Tors, some of them quarried and ending with a wide range of bronze age antiquities.
Once we returned to the car park we spent a few minutes looking at the layout, trying to work out what are the classroom was and also where the playground was.
Once we had established they layout, all that we needed to do now was to drive back for five minutes to Princetown and the Prince of Wales pub ( the nearest incidentally ) to slake our thirst end enjoy an excellently prepared meal.
Then home when the two intrepid travellers from the States managed to soon collapse from jet lag and so to bed.
It had been a good walk and a good afternoon and early evening out . It was a splendid way to start the short break back with us and a walk on Dartmoor is now almost becoming a tradition, having been done on the last three visits over here.