Wild Camp: Fur Tor and an emergency tarp re-pitch

Hyperlite Mountain gear flat tarp pitched on Dartmoor

In October I decided to drive back down to Dartmoor National Park and walk to one of the more remote Tors, Fur Tor. I decided to tackle it from Postbridge, and I will start this post by saying that having done it, I wouldn’t recommend this route particularly (see below for my reasoning). However I did make it to Fur Tor, which I must say is quite impressive, despite needing an emergency re-pitch at 3am, which left me distinctly dis-chuffed!

I arrived at Postbridge visitor centre at around 2pm on a Thursday. There was plenty of parking, and the parking charge for 24 hours was modest.

The path out onto the moor is behind the visitor centre, and you can find it either from the small picnic area at the back of the car park, or by walking around the left side of the centre from the car park. Initially this path is flat and well made of gravel, but soon it becomes rougher and grassy but still easy to follow.

The path runs out to a point marked as Braddon Lake on the OS map, but actually it’s a small river. It is easily crossed and a steep pull up after this brings you to a gate to a field. This field was full of cows, sheep and horses when I passed through. Exercise the usual caution around animals, and please keep your dog on a lead if you are walking one. Pass through the gate and head uphill diagonally following the track to a gate in the far corner. Once through the gate, turn left and follow the wall for a short distance. On your right, you will see Broad Down. Climb up this via any available route, it is quite straightforward.

You next want to head for Flat Tor. This, as the name suggests, is not one of Dartmoor’s finest. It’s all a bit featureless, so you may need to check your compass for this bit to be sure of your target. I walked fairly high level for most of it, then descended down to what looked like a weather station before climbing up to Flat Tor. This area is mostly pathless and boggy/tussocky. It really wasn’t pleasant walking at all. It’s also pretty featureless, I imagine it would be difficult in bad weather.

Just before the weather station (which is not shown on the OS map) you will need to cross a small river. There are points where it’s easy to cross so don’t feel you need to cross at the first point you find. I walked past two people who were pitching on Flat Tor, and to be honest this was probably the only piece of flat grass in the area so I understand why they did. It’s an option if you find yourself needing to pitch early.

From Flat Tor the secret is to follow the red and white posts that denote the firing range. There is a path, of sorts, that follows alongside. It is sometimes indistinct. It runs down to Cut Hill Water at it’s lowest point, which is again easily crossed. From here you need to turn left (west) to follow the posts up to the Peat Pass. The Peat Pass is marked by a small plaque as below.

Once through the Peat Pass, if the weather is good I recommend walking up to the summit of Cut Hill, which at 603 metres gives some fantastic views. And finally at this point you will see your prize, Fur Tor, to the west. Follow the path down Cut Hill and the obvious path up Fur Tor. You’ve reached one of the more remote parts of Dartmoor.

At this point I pitched my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp, and set about making some food. Winds were initially light, and I relaxed with a few drams of whisky as the sun went down. As it grew colder, I rolled out my bivi and climbed in under my quilt to stay warm. I tried not to ‘see’ the old mans face in the granite as I bedded down.

The forecast was for light winds, no rain and sunshine the next day. What actually happened was the wind strengthened, changed direction, and my tarp became a hang glider. I had to get up in the middle of the night to re-pitch. Then the rain that-definitely-wasn’t-coming came. I zipped up the bivi and went back to sleep, getting a reasonable amount, in fact waking when it was nearly 8am, which for me is completely unheard of.

I unzipped the bivi to see the usual Dartmoor fog. I had planned a slightly different walk back, but given the lack of visibility decided to retrace my steps. I had a breakfast of coffee and a danish pastry I had nurtured all the way to the camp. It was a tough walk back, given the generally pathless/boggy nature of the walk. In both directions it took around 3 hours. I was grateful to arrive back to my car.

In general, I have to say this walk was quite uninteresting. Fur Tor itself is definitely a worthy destination, and I enjoyed the camp, but walking in from Postbridge involved lots of fairly bland hills and rough walking that didn’t really inspire. I would recommend finding a different route to the above, although this is apparently one of the easiest.

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