|To my great annoyance , for the first time, I got up late ,and was'nt on the motorway heading south untill 2.30am less than four hours to get inbetween the two circles of the Grey Wethers.
The best place to park isn't on the eastern edge of the forest where the P is on the map, but rather keep driving along the small road next to the reservoir untill it stops by two gates and some big trees. I got my mountain bike out of the car and proceeded up the track through the forest and tutted to myself as the gate was open and I might have got the car further on and saved some time. As I passed Fernworthy stone circle on my right a car drove passed going to some unknown place in the forest,hopefully not the grey wethers, I tutted again, it was more uphill than I remembered and I was older and heavier and obviously getting out of shape.
Passing Froggymead (not as nice as honeymead) we ignore the first crossroad and the next right hand turn, but turn left at the next crossroad, straight down the track untill the forest runs out and the moor takes over, I left my bike here and jumped the gate.There is a wall on our right and we go over a small hill and then the circles come into view with Sittaford Tor behind and to the right.
To my greater annoyance for the first time I had missed the actual moment the sun rose, but only by ten minutes, seeing as it was a beautiful morning (cold and windy though) and I had the stones all to myself I decided to let myself off.
So to work ...ahem play.. whatever, I ran round trying to capture the moment on camera, such a photogenic site a hundred photos still wouldn't do it justice, if it was on lands end there would always be someone here but the long trek puts most of them off which is the way I like it. Sittaford tor isn't visible from the stones so can't really be the focus for the circles, but the eastern horizon is very wide and clear with uninterupted views and on the equinox the sun rises directly between the two circles. Standing between the rings as the sun rises in front of us try to imagine a line from each circle to the sun and tell me that it's not a phallic representation, it all seems very deliberate. Sunset is blocked by the lower slope of the tor, but there are views north and south so perhaps a meeting place of two families in nieghbouring valleys,either way it's a special place, King George V thought so the circles were re-erected on his behest, good onyer mate. The cold was beginning to hurt so I packed up and retreived my bike, what had taken 20 minutes to on the way up took just 2 mins to get back(great fun) to Fernworthy or Froggymead which ever you prefer.
Whilst at this circle I contemplated climbing a tree to get a from above picture but I'm no monkey boy so made do with standing on the rootball of a fallen tree, I was still 15ft up so it 's a good'n.
I've been here a few times and had other places to find so a quick fifteen minute visit and I was back at the car. Though I still found time to admire the many ponies that live round here .
Next on my short list was Cleave burial chamber,which is only a short ten minute drive away. As I neared the field where the chamber is situated I came across three young blokes with big shotguns and against everything T.V has taught me I asked if it was there field and could I park anywhere near to see the stones, they looked strangely at me but said the field belongs to a farm further down hill, I drove back and turned right at the crossroads and stopped at the second house on the left, the woman of the house was gardening so I asked away, she said it was fine. So I made my way back and parked so close to the hedge that I had to climb over the passenger seat,ran up the road and into the field which was mercifully empty of bovine hinderances though they were in the next field.
What a little tiddler it is, perfectly formed though, no room to get under the capstone except as part of an assault course maybe, I marvelled at the surrounding countryside and softly caressed the stones...erm no I didn't, time to go, the car may be getting in the way, it didnt though.
Iv'e not been to any hillforts on Dartmoor so this one will be a bit of a first. Not far north-east of Cleave and on the way home Prestonbury castle hillfort seemed perfect .
As we drive through Drewsteignton it can be seen on its hill and I contemplated which way to climb the hill, the easy slope asking permission from a farm in the village of preston or the anonymous adventurous steep way up like a dunce I chose the latter.
The Anglers rest public house is right next to the river Teign with Fingals bridge crossing it this is where i chose to make my assault of yonder hill.
I parked up the lane so as to hide my wicked ascent and looked for a good place to jump the small river which runs into the teign then it was a shortish stagger up the steep hill, at the top I could see the earthork and made my way up to the top and flopped down on the bank, panting hard lying there i decided to ask permission more frequently.
The fort has three good banks and ditches closing off the cliff edge, the lowest rampart is only evident on the easiest slope, all three have well defined entrances slightly staggered, the top ditch has an out of place looking big stone lying in the middle of it.
360 degree views make it a superb position for a fort,to the south and east the teign river valley stretches below us and the moors dissapear into the distance whilst to the north and west rural Devon takes over .
Getting down is always much easier and invariably more fun, I crossed the river without getting wet impressing myself in the process and returned to the car ,Operation Devon storm was a success even though I'd missed the sunrise I had managed to see all places on my short list.
The only questions now were will I get home in time to pick the kids up from school and where shall I go for the solstice ?
I have heard that the stone row on Down tor aligns with the sunrise we will wait and see.
Posted by postman
23rd March 2007ce
Edited 23rd March 2007ce
postman's TMA Blog
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