On 26th June Fran Allen offered a walk starting from Four Lanes Car Park off the Princetown to Tavistock road. Although further from Plymouth than we normally start on these walks there were still 15 of us out in time for the 7 PM start.
After a quick introduction from Fran we crossed over the road which runs down to Merrivale and headed up for our first major climb of the evening.
Sitting high above the car park about 1.25 miles away is Great MIS Tor with Little MIS tor some 400 metres further down.
This was the first Tor of the evening and it proved a good lung opener as three of us vied to see who would be the first to reach to Tor.
Great MIS Tor marks the start of the Merrivale Range and there is a flag post there and some military huts in the vicinity and a broad track for MOD personnel to get to the range quickly by vehicle.
Personally I tend to keep off stony tracks and road whenever possible and prefer the softer Dartmoor ground. to me even tussocks are preferrable to a hard surface for walking.
Accordingly I walked on moorland keeping roughly parallel to the main track and in less than 20 minutes I had passed Little MIS Tor and was approaching a small standing stone at the base of Great MIS Tor.
Up on one of the rocky outcrops sits the Devils Frying Pan, why "Devils" ?
I've no idea but Frying Pan is easy to understand since natural erosion has scooped out a section on a flat rock so that it looks like the outline of a large granite frying pan.
Some 10 minutes after the first of us reached the Tor and looked at the outline the tailenders were approaching.
Normally the views from the top are outstanding but on this evening the Tor was encapsulated in cloud and views were non existent.
After a rest for everyone to recover from their exertions we headed down from the Tor keeping well to the left of Little MIS Tor, looking for the corner of the enclosed land which is owned by the prison.
Long ago it was farmed, it has long since reverted to moorland and I for one was pleased to see that the CROW draft maps reclassify it as open country and so we'll be able to go and walk along some of the tracks through it.
Not tonight though, once we had located the wire fence we followed the fence as it headed down south east.
After a few hundred yards we passed an old gate which we'll soon be able to legally use.
We continued on down, avoiding a boggy area and then into a sort of lane, passing by the remains of some old moorland houses.
We could see the road ahead, we crossed over a clapper bridge and then through a gate and back to the road we had crossed about an hour previously.
Here there is a farm which used to have its own wind power generator, no longer though.
On the map the area is shown as Rundlestone.
Across the road opposite our exit point there is a stile into a field with a prow leading uphill across a couple of fields before emerging out onto open moor once again.
We took this footpath. En route though there were at least three more quite large stiles to get over which slowed us down a little.
Once out onto the open moor there was a small Tor directly ahead and up at the top we could just about make out the tall mast that sits atop North Hessary Tor.
This was not our target on this shorter walk.
Once over the stile we headed south west across rough moorland towards Hollow Tor about 500 yards away.
Trying to find even sheep tracks in this section is quite difficult, we did eventually find a narrow track of sorts which led us directly across to Hollow Tor.
At last the visibility improved, we were significantly lower at Hollow Tor than we had been up at Great MIS Tor and we had good views of the moorlands and fields opening out before us.
We could see the road snaking down to cross the River Walkham and across the valley to Vixen Tor.
To the north west we could see the copse that hides Four Winds Car park and our cars, about 1000 yards in a direct line back to the cars.
Having enjoyed our first real views of the evening we headed down in the general direction of the car park and crossed a stony track which runs up to Yellowmead Farm and beyond to Foggintor.
Just beyond the stony track there were the outlines of a number of once small cottages, well known to a member of our group whose Grandfather lived there.
They were known locally 50 years ago as Red Chimney Cottages, now the most distinctive featuer is a splendid low growing tree with a splendidly shaped canopy.
Ivan Mead advised us that these cottages were lived in by people who worked in the local quarry. I thought he meant Foggintor, but no, just a little further down the hill was the outline of a small quarry, Ivan explained it was privately owned and called West Mead Quarry.
Ivan "Mead", West "Mead" Quarry, Yellow"mead" Farm. Surely there has to be a link there somewhere.
We had a good look around the Quarry, one I had never visited before and I had no idea of it's existence.
Leaving the Quarry we swung more north to find an easy crossing point over a small stream and then north west again following the contours around towards the southern side of a wall enclosing the boundary of trees and the car park to the north.
Why is there a wall around it? Ivan explained that this was once a school play ground with the school itself where the car park now sits.
We entered the playground through a gap in the wall and a few yards further exited the playground via stone steps and through another gap in the wall and we were once again at our cars.
I reflected on the size of the quarrying community that must have lived around here when the quarries were being fully worked.
Ivan explained how his father had moved across from Gunnislake to this area since the copper mines around the Tamar Valley were is serious decline at the times the quarries were in full production.
The evening walk over, the pub stop to come. We drove back to Princetown and into the Prince of Wales pub for the customary drink and a container of chips for some.
At around 10 PM we were driving off back from Princetown to Plymouth. It had been a good evening and luckily the forecast rain had held off.