A snowy Hameldown and Rippon Tor

Snow was forecast on Dartmoor and a bit of a drop in temperature to keep it there, plus a chance of some sunshine which would really make for a good walk. Well I have to say that this is probably one of the best walks I have ever had, anywhere. It was absolutely magical. I was out for 6 hours, covering around 12 or so miles in an area that never fails to deliver when the weather is cold. I have been on Hameldown in very cold conditions for the last few years and it is always enjoyable. Today, however, it was a special place to be, the snow was a perfect depth of around 4 to 6 inches on the paths and the clouds cleared to produce a deep blue sky. The day didn’t start very well, knowing that cold weather was forecast overnight I set off later, hoping that the roads would be cleared. I was heading up towards Cold East Cross and could see a few hundred metres in front that a number of cars and vans had got stuck on an incline, as I crossed a bridge and turned a corner I hit ice. The car went straight on, into a muddy bank, luckily the mud was soft and lacking stones and it bounced off. But that was a warning not to go any further. I retreated back a quarter of a mile and parked up. This meant I was a couple of miles short of my intended start, but not to worry. It also meant that I would have a decision to make, to go for Hameldown or stay more in the Haytor area. That decision could wait until I got to Top Tor, one decision I had made was to finish on Rippon Tor. As it turned out the walk was quite a long one and as a result I’ve had to split the map below into two sections to get it all on, and I also make no apologies for the number of photos, I did well to get it down to 45!

Start – Near to Cold East Cross parking
Route – Cold East Cross – Tunhill RocksPil Tor – Top Tor – Bovey Rock – Widecombe In The Moor – Stoneslade Tor – Kingshead Tor – Hameldown Beacon – Broad Barrow – Berry Pound – Natsworthy Gate – Jay’s GraveHolwell Rocks – Hemsworthy Gate – Rippon Tor – Halshanger Common
Distance – 12.5 miles    Start time – 11.40am     Time taken – 6hrs  Highest Point – Broad Barrow 530metres
Weather – Snow on the ground and clearing to blue skies, glorious

© Crown copyright 2019 Ordnance Survey FL 2019 SF

Starting out and this fella wishes me well on my walk. I had a conversation with one of the drivers who had got stuck heading up to Cold East Cross, he had also turned around and decided to park lower down.

As I pass Cold East Cross the views open up to the south, plenty of blue sky around at the moment.

Just my footprints here today, despite it being after midday. The difficulty getting here perhaps putting people off

Tunhill Rocks is first with fine views to the south, the cloud was building again from the north west and before long it was snowing again

Haytor back left is about to be swallowed by a snow shower, it would soon move across Saddle Tor and then to Rippon Tor, which was my last tor of the day

Nearing Pil Tor and the snow laden clouds are dropping on to Hameldown

Now on Top Tor, I had a brew here and some biscuits. It was decision time, do I go for Hameldown, is there enough daylight. The snow showers are now passing behind Pil Tor in the distance

Looking from Top Tor down to Widecombe I could see brightness in the distance behind the snow. A look at my weather app had sunshine coming in around an hour and then for the rest of the day. Decision made, Hameldown it is.

The skies above are clearing and Lower Top Tor catches the sun. Hameldown is still in cloud but I was optimistic of a clearing day

The road from Haytor Vale to Widecombe was clear of snow and ice, I should have come around that way as there were plenty of cars travelling here. Widecombe church is surrounded by snowy fields. The line of trees running up to the right of the church holds the lane which takes me up to Hameldown.

Widecombe church, the rest of the village was silent. The coffee shops were closed as was the shop. The pub was open though!!

I stopped half way up the steep lane to look across to Chinkwell Tor and Honeybag Tor

Out on to the moorland again and a glorious view back down to Widecombe with Top Tor and Pil Tor above

I’d followed the wall down there and then started up the long hill towards Hameldown Beacon. I was down to two layers here as it was warm on this side of the hill

Stoneslade Tor is reached first on the Two Moors Way path. I was keeping an eye on the time now which was around 2pm, I reckoned that if I could get to Berry Pound by 3pm then I should be ok. That meant my original plan of getting to Grimspound would be shortened by heading down from Broad Barrow, that way I would be able to walk the extended finish in daylight.

Kingshead Tor, both these two tors have very little granite sticking up, meaning that with snow covering them, they were hard to find.

The Two Moors Way path was absolutely beautiful; today and by now the cloud had pretty much cleared, as you can see I was the first person up this way as well. Rippon Tor, back left, looks quite pointy and an awful long way away from here.

Hameldown Beacon and coffee stop number 2. Looking west now towards North Hessary Tor and the Princetown mast

The forest to the right of centre is Fernworthy Forest, with the north moor covered in cloud behind

Looking back to Hameldown Beacon from Broad Barrow, I had a huge grin on my face at this point. It was absolutely stunning.

Haytor, Black Hill and Rippon Tor back right from Broad Barrow. Again Rippon Tor looked a long way away and my car was further on beyond that!!

The Two Moors Way path in the snow. I’d picked up the footprints of another walker and his dog which I followed down to Natsworthy Gate

Perfect snow conditions

I dropped off the path which goes to Hameldown Tor and headed down the curving path towards Berry Pound


Second world war memorial and a jaw dropping view behind

Haytor back left and Honeybag Tor and Chinkwell Tor in the centre. I’m heading down to the trees to the left

My path down and also Berry Pound on the left hand hill. Faint circle near the valley

Passing through Natsworthy Gate I join the path to Jay’s Grave

A gap in the trees gives a great view along the valley to Widecombe and of the back of Honeybag Tor and Chinkwell Tor

Haytor again in view at the back right, but this is my first look at Hound Tor on the left

Kitty Jay’s Grave

The road to Hound Tor was deserted again it was lovely walking along here

Hedge Tor on the left, then Chinkwell Tor and Honeybag Tor

Haytor across Holwell Lawn

I’m on Holwell Rocks and its now 4pm. I’m on time and looking at the sun it will put me on Rippon Tor for sunset, time to keep moving

Holwell Rocks and Chinkwell Tor to the right

The road from Holwell Rocks to this point was very icey, I was glad I was parked were I was. Just the road to Hemsworthy Gate and last pull up to Rippon Tor as the sun sets

On Rippon Tor and just in time, Teignmouth in the distance from the summit

An orange glow on Haytor and Saddle Tor at the end of the day. The sky was completely clear and it was set for a cold night.

Most of my walk is in this photo. With Hameldown the large bulky hill in the middle

Rippon Tor sunset

One cloud had hung on and gave the sunset a nice end

I took this one with the flash, this is the old WW2 firing range. To get here I had stupidly crossed Halshanger Common and the bog. Hopping from tuft to tuft I made it across without too much trouble but it was a bit of a pain after 12 miles!

Dying embers of a quite magnificent day, Brent Hill in the distance and 4 layers and two hats on now as it was getting very cold, the car is only 100 metres away and a chance to warm up on the way home


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