Week 6 – Gorse, Gorse, a Kingdom for my Gorse.

Ok this title might be a little misleading – implying that we had a lot of gorse. It really wasn’t actually that much and it was pretty much at the end of our walk but look here, it’s a cool title ok? 🙂
This week we were heading around Belstone, just outside Okehampton (or Soak-hampton as its called in our house – but we managed to find it on a beautiful sunny day). Coming along with us this week were Pablo’s sister and her hubby, Jayne and Seth (ok so I’ve given up on the name changing!). Things to know about Jayne and Seth – Jayne is a postie so she is used to lots of walking and her round is in Okehampton so she’s used to walking up hills! And Seth,what can I say? Seth is just a legend. He is so knowledgeable about flora and fauna and everything in between – he would be constantly pointing out things along our route. I think he would secretly like to be Ray Mears!
So we had a slightly later start today, heading off at 10am from Belstone. Also worth mentioning that I devised todays route and I had managed to find a route around lots of tors but as it was a popular area, we would be very fortunate with paths and tracks! As we set off from Belstone heading to our first tor of the day Scarey Tor. I love tors with daft names – like calling one Great something, when its actually really small! And as such there wasn’t anything particularly scary about Scarey Tor. Other than Seth gobbling up lots of bilberries (or in proper Somerset ‘wortleberries’) as we climbed up!
Tor 48 – Scarey Tor
Next up was Belstone Tor itself – a very pretty little tor and when we reached the top, I had a good sense of achievement as we had some pretty precarious rock climbing to do to get there! From Belstone Tor we had a really good view of most of our route – including the final tor of the day, the beast…. Cosdon Hill!! From here we headed for our coffee/tea/cake/banana stop – and most importantly this would be my 50th tor. Higher Tor! Whilst Seth very subtly kept me occupied with a rare flower he’d found and Pablo helped me with a little rock climbing to the top, I emerged to see that the top of Higher Tor had been decorated with bunting and I was handed a 50th card to celebrate! A perfect tea break!
Celebrating my 50th Tor!
Full of cheer and celebrations we headed off to Winter Tor then on to Oke Tor – when we reached the top of Oke tor, we were treated to such a stunning view. We could see the sea on the North coast and the South too – absolutely stunning. Also gave me such a sense of perspective of how much of Devon is taken up by the moor! Awesome! From Oke Tor, continuing along the path we descended down reaching a little ford. With the sun shining on the water, it was beautiful. We toyed with the idea of having a lunch break early just to stay a little longer at this picturesque spot but seeing the climb we had next, no one fancied attempting that on a full belly!! Although we did have a little break here whilst we watching Seth trying to stalk a fish in the stream!!
Tor 52
Next we headed up to Steeperton Tor – this was going to be our lunch stop so it kept us going during that long slog! On the top of Steeperton Tor was an army observation point which provided a little wind break whilst we had our sarnies. During lunch and enjoying the lovely sunshine, we engaged Pablo’s electric brain (GPS to everyone else) to determine which other tors we could see on the horizon. Everything is really starting to come together for me with a sense of perspective of Dartmoor – each time we go out to a different area, it’s really great to be able to see another side of a tor that we’ve climbed before!
With a full belly of food, we were all raring to go – next up was the Hounds, Hound Tor and Little Hound Tor. We all knew that these were the calms before the big one which was coming, Cosdon Hill. Both Jayne and Seth recounted a story where they had climbed Cosdon Hill from the bottom where we’d parked and it was never=ending! Eeek! And I couldn’t complain because I’d picked the route! But first to Hound Tor – and cue a few attempts at a Hound Dog Elvis pose on the top….. (we failed, see for yourselves!!) closely following by Little Hound Tor.
You ain’t nothin’ but Hound Tor…
Finally, we were heading to our final tor of the day – Cosdon Hill. The daddy of tors for the day – at 550m it was our highest. On our way we encountered a big bog – always fun! And a stone circle. Stone circles and hut circles are marked on the OS maps but you rarely see one as perfectly formed at this one. It was lovely to see – incredible to be reminded that these were all dragged and manoeuvred into position so many years ago, without the help of a digger!
Cosdon Hill is what I like to call a ‘sneaky tor’ – this is when you reach what you think is the top only to find it isn’t actually the top at all. So you plough on, then you reach the top again – only to find that this isn’t the top either – and so on and so on. Finally we reached the top and this time we knew it was the top – it had a OS triangulation point on it so there was no mistaking! From Cosdon we could see, not only our entire walk today, but also a stunning view of most of Devon. Pablo took the opportunity to show off how amazing zoom he had on his camera by zooming in to take a close up picture of Drogo Castle!!
Castle Drogo from a distance
After Cosdon we were homeward bound, this is where the gorse comes in. In the absence of a path (we had been very spoilt today with lots of lovely tracks and paths) we just headed in the direction that the GPS told us the car was…… and oh Lordy, how the gorse hurts on sunburnt legs!! Ouchie ouchie ouchie. We finally met up with a path to head down to the pretty little bridge crossing the river again – and also worth mentioning Cecilia saw a snake! A real one – about 2 ft long! I do hope it wasn’t just exhaustion from my walk!!
So things learnt this week – only eat berries that Seth says you can…. but seriously kids, please please please don’t eat anything unless you are 100% sure you know what it is! Seth is (self-)trained professional. You can receive a Happy 50th card at the age of 30. Sun block works best when actually applied to skin – it doesn’t work when still in bottle.
Kate 🙂
Next week – how many tors can we fit in one days walking?
If you would like to help support me in my challenge, you can sponsor me by visiting www.justgiving.com/kate-ainsley
If you would like more information about the amazing Save the Children FAST project, please visit the Save the Children website on www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/fast.html

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