Our three stop Christmas tour takes us to Exeter every year. This year we wanted to get out and explore a bit of Dartmoor. Hayley told me about a camping trip years ago in a beautiful quarry with her dad and sister. Hayley’s dad was keen to take us there and show us the route they took all those years ago. We started our microadventure by climbing Haytor rock. The wind was intense. Both Hayley and I were being blown in all directions while scrambling up the slippery granite rock. Hayley’s dad on the other hand, skipped merrily to the summit. He was infact the only person to brave the summit that day due to the wind. As I photographed Lawrence on top of the rock, another challenger tried and failed, being forced to descend by shuffling back down, somewhat unheroically on the seat of his jeans.
The descent was tricky. Lawrence showed me an alternative route, avoiding the steps that are carved into the rock. This slightly more adventurous route went from easy going to ‘hell’s teeth I’m going to fall to my death’ in seconds. As I shimmied down the steepening rock face, I missed the off ramp to get back onto the stepped path and suddenly found myself on a very steep, slippery slope. I ended up flipping over onto my front, scrambling back up a few metres, sliding over the edge backwards, hoping to find somewhere to put my feet. I’m still alive.
After the rock, Lawrence took us to see the quarry where Hayley and her sister had camped. He had described a sort of hidden paradise. When the quarry came into view it was exactly that. I could only imagine how stunning it would look on a clear day.
Continuing in Lawrence’s ‘off the beaten track’ style, we ducked under a gap in the fence and scrambled down the side of the quarry, through thick gorse.
Despite the howling winds, the quarry was flat like glass. We explored the old remnants of the granite industry, some more obvious than others. In the lake there was an old rusted winch. A few feet away there was a granite block with chunks missing. I do love a good ghost town, and the quarry felt like a haunting leftover from a bygone era.
On the walk back to the car we passed giant piles of granite. Looking back, Haytor rock was disappearing in a blanket of mist. As we walked, the wind tried to blow us back down the hill. I was feeling over dressed and stifled in my down jacket by this point. Although the wind was blowing hard, the air was a peculiar 14 degrees. Dartmoor provided us with a microadventure, but I’m now determined to go back there on a dry day, without a wounded hand, to summit the rock! The elements beat me this time.