Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Furthest Nuttall

In England and Wales most of the hills and mountains on the tick lists that I’m pursuing (mostly Nuttalls and TRAIL 100s) are grouped together in not unexpected areas – the Lake District, Pennines, north Wales and mid-Wales – but the outliers stick out like sore thumbs.  I’ve still to do the Cheviots but I’ve bagged Roseberry Topping, the others being the ones I pursued on this hugely long day out.

The Dartmoor Nuttalls are over 200 miles away from where I live and the plan was to tick them as well as the TRAIL 100 summits of Hound Tor and Worcestershire Beacon.  A long day meant a very early 3:20am start.

Hound Tor is just a simple stroll from the road but a little adventure is needed to reach the top.  In drier conditions the scramble wouldn’t be hard at all with the granite providing good friction underfoot, but the strong wind and rain made conditions a bit too slippery to instil confidence.  I took a lot of care with each foot placement and slowly reached the top, although it was too windy to actually stand up on the summit for fear of a big fall into the void, the bottom of which I couldn’t see because of the mist!

an atmospheric Hound Tor

I drove to Meldon reservoir and for the first time in many years I set off on a walk in heavy rain.  Most of the walk up Yes Tor was not as bad as the rain eased a little and the prominent tracks made for easy walking.  But the full force of the wind became apparent as I approached the top and I took shelter in a large metal shelter, complete with some interesting graffiti, just below the summit which was only just tantalisingly in view through the mist.  A quick tap of the trig and I set off for the highest point in the south of England.

still grey at Yes Tor

The walk to High Willhays was easy enough although the group of youngsters I passed were taking their time, often pausing to huddle around their map.  The summit had an impressive arch of rocks balanced atop the cairn and I was surprised that it stayed in place in the windy conditions.

High Willhays summit cairn

I descended west of where I’d planned but decided that following the small valley between Homerton Hill and Longstone Hill shouldn’t be too difficult.  Some careful crossings of the stream led to better paths from where the walk back to the car was a relaxing stroll.

The drive up the M5 started to tire me out so I stopped for an hour to snooze – the day was starting to take its toll.

My final hill of the day was Worcestershire Beacon.  I parked in West Malvern and made my way up to the summit ridge just as the light was starting to fade.  There weren’t many people around and I pretty much had the top to myself.  The eroded ground underfoot indicated that this is a popular hill and it reminded me of Catbells in the Lake District, another family favourite.

Worcestershire Beacon

The journey home ended a tiring 18 hour day with over 600 miles of driving but at least my To Do map looks a lot tidier.  And while I’m in a tidying mood, I’ll start to make a plan to tick the 6 Cheviot Nuttalls.