PRINCETOWN, GREAT MIS TOR, MERRIVALE AND RETURN VIA THE OLD RAILWAY LINE

START POINT GRID REF: 589753

This Wednesday walk was done on 24th Nov 99. As we drove across the moors to the start at Princetown CP we wondered what we had let ourselves in for. The rain was lashing down and we were in thick cloud.

We rushed into the toilet close to the cars to get change and when we emerged the rain seemed to be easing. By 10 AM we had 8 ramblers ready for the walk led by Ray Manley. Ray normally wears shorts but he too had given into the elements and was in full wet weather gear. After a minimalist briefing we were off.

The route was to take us up to North Hessary Tor, on to Great MIS Tor, across the valley and over the River Walkham and up to Roos Tor, down to Dartmoor Inn at Merrivale for lunch, down the valley in the Walkhampton direction, but turning up to the moors again by Ingra Tor, onto the old Princetown line for the return around Kings Tor and into FogginTor and finally back along the line to Princetown CP. That was the plot anyway, a total of getting on for 12 miles.

Leaving the car park in the rain, we were soon yomping away as the Wednesday group do, uphill for the first mile until we reached North Hessary Tor.

On the way up the cloud cleared and we had views of Princetown looking back. The gloom of course doesn't enable good pictures. That's my excuse!

We continued on a bearing of 310 climbing up unti we reached North Hessary Tor. The mast was once the main TV transmitter for the area but now I understand it is for radio only.

The mast is very high but the fog or cloud was such that we could only see the bottom third of it.

After this brief photo opportunity we were off again in the fog. We then headed off towards the next main Tor, that of Great MIS Tor on a bearing of about 325 about 2 miles further on.

In the fog we couldn't see much and we found ourselves passing a small Tor.

This was called Hollow Tor and it was slightly off the planned route. No problem it was quite close to the right route.

As we dropped down the visibility improved and we could see a house by the main road. Anyone who says that there are no wind generators on Dartmoor is wrong.

There definitely is one because we walked past it. I assume it provides the power necessary for the fam house. Onto the road and up the hill to the point where we intended to cross it. We were back on track

We continued up a moderate slope at good pace, until Little MIS Tor appeared out of the gloom on our left. About a quarter of a mile on and we were at our morning coffee stop at Great MIS Tor.

It as supposed to be a mild day at 12 degrees, up here in the cloud and the howling wind the chill factor must have dropped it quite close to freezing. Views - thick cloud surrounded us. The only advantage of that is the army wouldn't be firing blind - or would they? - we were right on the edge of the danger area.

Coffee over and we were descending steeply across Dartmoor granite boulders down towards the River Walkham on a bearing of 260 degrees.

The Walkham was flowing quite strongly after the recent rain and the crossing point was less than obvious. Stepping stones, what a luxury!!

We split into two groups, eventually one group made it across whilst we continued downstream looking for a crossing.

Narrowly avoiding a bog, Maria didn't!! we found a point which looked vaguely fordable and all managed to get across without water over the top of the boots (just).

There was a slight change of plan because of the time to find the crossing.

Looking back towards Great MIS Tor we could see the clouds had lifted and it was now clearly visible.

We didn't go up to Roos Tor but went on down to the bridges at Merrivale, passing the Dartmoor Inn with barely a glance.

After lunch, we crossed over the main road, up the road a few yards and turned right through a farm and along a well trodden path.

We followed this path through woods and generally down hill parallel to the Walkham below and to our right. We were heading more or less due south and continued for getting on for two miles until we found the road crossing we were looking for.

We negotiated a herd of milking cows making their way up the lane, turned sharp left at the crossing, up a small road/track and back onto the moor. On our right we had Ingra Tor about a quarter of a mile up the moor

Eventually we found a path marked with posts which climbed quite steeply up towards the old railway line. We followed the path at a good speed for getting on for a mile on 060 degrees until we intercepted the old line. The rest of the walk was plain sailing (sorry walking).

The old railway track swung right around Kings Tor and the old granite quarries which provided the rocks for London Bridge and many other important landmarks around England.

The walking pace went up a few notches on this relatively easy incline.

We deviated from the track into the entrance to Foggintor for afternoon coffee, to get out of the wind, before the final 20 minute (1.5 m) spurt along the line and back to the car park again. We were back in the car park by about 3 PM and the weather was quite different to the conditions we had set off in.

We thanked Ray for his efforts and to whoever had taken mercy on us with the improved conditions during the day. We were on our way back to Plymouth once again having covered getting on for 12 miles during the day. Good walking once again!