I love the British moors. Wild, windswept, rugged, yet stunningly beautiful, they’ve been the settings for countless novels, from the passionate (think Wuthering Heights) to the mildly terrifying (The Hound of the Baskervilles), and no wonder. There is something inexplicably ancient and mysterious about the remote moors – apparently it’s one of the darkest places in the UK at night and perfect for stargazers. It is also a rite of passage for legions of schoolkids to hike through the moors as a means of toughening up, and even SAS troops use parts of it for their exercises and for grueling training hikes.
We try to visit Dartmoor every time we go to Torquay. When the children were younger, we would stick to the child friendly spots like Dartmeet, a picnic area by the River Dart that has plenty of rocks for clambering and minnow fishing.
Now that they are older, we go hiking. This time, we decided to try one of the walks around Haytor. Dartmoor is known for its Tors, rock outcrops that are found on hilltops and summits, and Haytor is its most famous.
Not surprisingly, Haytor is a popular spot for novice rock climbers and trekkers. The view from the top is breathtaking.
Our trek was not ambitious, about 7km. However, the route involved lots of vertical ascents and descents through steep paths and rocks. It’s definitely a good idea to have a good pair of hiking boots and a reasonable level of fitness. I was huffing through some of the 70 degree ascents towards the end.
Being the intrepid city slickers, my son, ever the impatient one, suggested that we take a short cut off the beaten path to get to our designated lunch stop more quickly.
We were stuck for half an hour navigating through a bog that was thick with thorny gorse, furze, blackberry and other evil looking bushes. Thankfully, we got back onto our route to the little picnic spot that we were looking for – Becka Brook.
There is hardly a soul here, and apart from a butterfly watching couple who soon departed, we had the brook and glen to ourselves. Someone had also tied a rope to a tree and my kids had great fun swinging across the brook.
We had an idyllic picnic before heading back up an old disused quarry. Total hike time, 3 hours, including our pit stop at Becka Brook. A perfectly satisfying day.