Sunday, 29 May 2011

#126 - Cosdon from South Zeal

Not going to take any credit for the route of this walk, it must go firmly with a new book I picked up this weekend; "Walk! Dartmoor". A first for me to explore this side of the mighty "bear back" that is Cosdon Hill. For a copy of the book and other areas in the series, go to the Discovery Walking Guides Website.

So to today's foray; a late start due to a quick trip into Exeter to purchase a new jacket, and my first Paramo! Keen to try it out in anger, I hot footed it back to the moor to make the most of the inclement weather. Typical isn't it? the one occasion when you want the heavens to open, you find yourself greeted with sunshine. I was no more than 800 yards out of the car park at South Zeal when I had to remove the jacket, and even though I wore it later, it wasn't really needed.

This was my first real view of the countryside on the east of Cosdon Hill; when you are on the summit, the dome is expansive and you fail to see its base. What I was now enjoying were some tree shaded ancient lanes, a welcome respite from the sun as you ascended steadily to the open moor, replaced by a patch work of steep fields bordered by impressive granite walls.

An hour into the walk, I had reached the open moor and took a  bearing for the Cosdon Stone Row, or "The Cemetery" as it is also known. It is a well preserved bronze age triple row with a double cist (burial chamber)  at one end. Worth the climb alone!

From there, it was a matter of continuing in a southerly direction along an obvious old peat cutters track, a deep scar that skirts Cosdon Hill, gently climbing to a boggy area known as Raybarrow Pool. As I looked south, I was amazed to see the massive granite domes of Hay Tor far away in the distance, a far cry from the mist and rain I had been expecting this afternoon.

Today, the boggy area was a minor irritation, due to the lack of rainfall over the month, but I could see it would be impenetrable on another day. Once past the pool, the track contours around Little Hound Tor before you are met with the next Bronze Age treat, the White Moor Stone Circle.

I was now on familiar terrain, this now being a part of the Dartmoor Perambulation. Here you can look across to some of the most impressive of the tors on the north moor, Watern Tor, Steeperton Tor, Oke Tor and further in the distance, Yes Tor, easily seen despite some low mist.

The wide ridge brought a promising nip in the air and some advancing cloud had me reaching for my new jacket with excited anticipation. I marched on to Cosdon Beacon confidently, but despite the promise, the rain never came. Passed the trig point and down the northern side, the wind speed dropped and the jacket went away again for another day. So, instead I had to content myself with some wonderful views of North Devon for the duration of the descent.

Eventually, the open moor ends, and the final stretch back to South Zeal found me in another ancient lane full of young foliage and blossoming wildflowers, and a joy to discover.
  • Date: 29/05/11
  • Region: Dartmoor National Park
  • Status: Solo
  • Description: South Zeal – Ramsey Hill – Nine Stones – Cosdon Stone Row – Raybarrow Pool – White Moor Stone Circle – Little Hound Tor – Cosdon Hill – Old Drove Road – South Zeal – Sunny Spells, breezy, 12km, 4hrs
  • Type of Walk: Personal Walking