By: Blonde Two
One of the places that the Two Blondes have found themselves visiting a fair number of times this year is Hemsworthy Gate (SX742761). If you have visited almost anywhere on East Dartmoor, you will have driven across the cattle grid there and if you were driving towards Haytor, you will have most likely driven through the large puddle that I used to soak Blonde One the other day (was it really an accident?)
If you are a high moor Dartmoor purist, the temptation might be to write Hemsworthy off as being in “the touristy” part of Dartmoor. I did for a while but after some consideration, I have decided that I was wrong. I have a new found love for this (my nearest) set of hills and looks, I have discovered, can be very deceptive.
For a start, Hemsworthy is on North sheet of the Dartmoor map. It took me a long time to stop looking for it on the South sheet because in my Blonde head, South means “nice cuddly” Dartmoor and North means “tough guy” Dartmoor. The area around Hemsworthy is mostly easy walking with cushiony grass and easy to reach high points – the less walky visitors do like it but that is because they are smart and probably don’t fancy breaking their ankles on knee high tussocks or losing their shoes in knee deep bogs.
There are plenty of explorations to be had from Hemsworthy and the area has mini versions of everything you might find deeper into the moors. There are stunning cairns (plus sea views) from Rippon Tor – if you are clever, you will find the Dartmoor Christmas tree near here.
There is a lovely line of boundary stones if you head South West plus one unusual flat boundary rock 741757. Heading North West, you can visit the ridge of Bell, Chinkwell and Honeybag tors where you may find more hut circles and a well/spring.
A miniventure North East will take you to Emsworthy (someone stole the “H” a long time ago) which appears to be the most photographed place on Dartmoor – lovely stone walls, a red roofed barn and bluebells if you go at the right time. On the way to Emsworthy, if you are not careful, you will find a most impressive, foot sucking bog but you should avoid it if only because Emsworthy Mire is a nature reserve and supports a wealth of wildlife (including adders) http://bit.ly/14zeuJJ
If it is a horrid day then you will probably be safe from the hordes to take a stroll East towards Haytor. Haytor is often overcrowded but is a fascinating area with an impressive tor that you can walk up (and apparently fall off). Look out for the stone tramway which was used to transport stone down from the quarry to the canal at Teigngrace (pronounced “teen”) and out to sea at Teignmough (pronounced “tin”).
If all these miniventures seems a bit tame for you, try doing some of these walks on a misty Winter night. The Two Blondes have and believe me, in the dark, there is nothing more cuddly or friendly about this part of the moor than any other part.