Dangling around with Rhinoseri 

AGM weekend is an opportunity to make decisions, eat good food and cave with different people including a newly crowned President #POTSM.  After a wobble about Thrupe Lane and a beer and pasty in the Hunters we converged on Beechbarrow to talk rigging.  There was some discussion about the rub point at the top of the main pitch in Rhino but we took advice and opted for maiilon chains.

Jo rigged first and most of the trip heading out on the traverse line and considering options whilst hanging the first Y hang.  There is a deviation, a long way across but the rehang is within sight and the drop to the floor nicely placed.

I followed, bunny hopping The POTSM and beginning to rig pitch 2, we were out of time but I wanted to look around the corner.  One bolt is in sight but a better Y hang lays beyond this.  Out of time we returned to ensure we were back upntop in time to meet a bus and get fed.  

The trip got me thinking and I think there are three main vertical exchanges… I wonder if pre-rigged you could do them in a day?

The food was great; thanks Kev and Jo. 

75 Twrs, further afield

There are a couple of Tors websites out there which are excellent and as ever the total number of Tors is debatable.

I wanted a ‘tick list’ of those Celtic towers which was both doable but which I could also tick some of my ‘already completed’ tops.  The easiest initial way to find the Tors seemed to be using an index.  As the Ten Tors competition was upon us I sought a paper index (wi-fi is hopeless) which I could annotate, apply some basic rules and then complete.

The Rules:

The word Tor or Tors must appear in the name.

The Tor must be within the Dartmoor national park.

The name must be in the index of the Dartmoor A-Z for Walkers Adventure Series publication.  I used edition 3 2016.
I have come up with a list of about 80 Tors which I hope to group into sections and then complete as circular walks or diversions whilst training teams;

We shall see …

Spreadsheet to follow. 

Around Sherborne; coming along nicely

I am really pleased that my New Years resolution has come to fruition.  Eighteen walks on, mostly blogged and nearly all walked in both directions.  I have had to complete some maintenance, rework some of the links and persevere through the muddy mire that is winter.  


Goddard and Barker rediscovered

The email sent by Phil (W) encouraged cavers to descend upon the Mineries and I joined the ‘duvet’ – a collective noun for a chaotic collection of cavers of no disclosed destination. Andy was already hard at work with the strimmer and as I glanced behind me in the car at my kit I noticed one minor omission, my main kit bag.

After the necessary dither I set about the explore the holy collection of oversuits displayed in the drying room. Wellies were also available and the one dry suit fitted to perfection; we have a trip. I relaxed with my coffee in the sun, sorted through ‘smalls’ to realise that my yellow cassette for the Duo was also in the other bag; almost there, but not quite.


A call to Cave Climb and they were happy to oblige, fantastic people and a service we will miss if the the shop ever declines. I purchased some wet suit socks too, completing my ensemble. On return Kath and Terry had arrived and were waiting for our final member Ivan.


The destination was GB, for many a straightforward jaunt but a treat for me. Having visited it in the past as a pupil – probably with Neil – my memory was weak and until recently it was still on my tick list. A trip organised by Jo via the devils elbow cleared my list but I was keen to return.  


Whizzing over towards the cave I was chatting about keys until we realised that we had neglected to include the necessary and so a return was required. I changed into my new aerated kit, we wandered up the road ducking cyclists and were soon at the blockhouse. The entrance ladder has been removed (rusted out rung) and so you need to concentrate immediately.  


The stoop to the wet crawl came up quickly enough and very soon we were in the gorge and heading downstream. We traversed the bridge, skirted the calcite flows before dropping down a slot on the left and back towards a viewpoint. This seemed to be the classic trip and plenty of chat took place as we loafed around in between the main progress. The stream way seemed very dry so that as we turned around at the sump the uphill struggle and most especially the climb up below the bridge was reduced. Progress back to the surface was efficient, ably led by Kath.


The final requirement was a quick pint in the Queen Vic before returning our disparate ways. Thanks to Phil for sending the e-mail, whoever’s suit I borrowed and of course that ‘just come, some caving will happen’ culture that makes Shepton the club it is.      

Donkey track, trod, trod.

The plan was a simple one.  Brickkiln lane, Underdown lane, Donkey lane, pillow mounds and the Corton Hill descent.  The reality was clag.  Super clag.  So much clag that an hours riding took 90 mins and I am puffed. 

Cutting through the estate, as soon as I hit Brickiln lane and the bike began to load up I realised this was going to be a tough ride.  It was supposed to be the better half of a circular tour; the three ridges – Oborne, Gryphon and Corton.

Turning the corner to Underdown lane progress slowed and chain, brakes, stays and forks jammed solid.  Pedalling was hard, effort maximum and even a dip in the Yeo did little to remove the clag.

The byeway climb up to the reservoir beside Grange farm removed the tedium; I was already replotting in my mind.  The spell on tarmac was well received and I jumped to remove soil and grass, largely in vain.

The Donkey lane was better, I had a view but as I entered the lonin at 5km the parimpleth of mud built again.  The source of the Yeo is a long way under these conditions.

And suddenly I was out of the saddle and dropping over the scarp slope of the Oborne ridge.  A quick nip across the Bristol road and up and onto a climb of a more grassy nature – the pillow mounds. 

Up the metalled road past Cortlands to access the ridge and then a swoop back down into Corton Denham.  I was drying out and the mud was falling away but light was failing.

The other side of Sandford Orcas I climbed towards the Quarr, a far easier ascent noticing the golf course more readily from this direction.  Home was not far away.

The ride took me 90 minutes but was much harder than I wanted and I felt I was pushing hard the whole time, I think next time a route into Oborne would be better on road.

Sussing out the SProgs

After our Dartmoor bash and the success of the Harepath ride it was hinted that a ride around Sherborne may work.  I had explored the eastern escarpments before and had a couple of alternatives but towards Yeovil some linking was required.

The Eastern route would drop into Sandford Orcas and so I headed out to Higher Sandford by Quarr lane.

The route down from Holway would continue eastwards on Moorway Lane out onto the Marston Road.  At Rosedown farm I headed straight across to Mount Hunger.

Sharp right and then an onroad box leads onto Plot Lane and up onto Lowsome Lane.  This muddy lane makes a obvious right hand bend at Shelners beginning to climb.

This is a lovely triple track with soft brow and solid, narrow pedal-tap runnels.  A right hand bend indicates the graveyard section; plenty of obstacles to dodge.

Eventually on the left the most difficult climb on the section is met.  Initially short, steep and convex it flattens out if you hang in there popping out into sunlight.  I turned right but left would be better.

Dropping into Stallen along the right angled track of Kitten Lane I passed the cave and onto the Yeovil dual carriageway.

I was heading for Gooseland Lane, a gradually rising grassy track used as a gallop by the local horse fraternity.  Sadly the bottom section was laid hedge and the hawthorn was now growing in several bushes: puncture territory.  Above the corner going was slow and tedious until surmounting the top quite close to Kitton track.  A shorter alternative, or reversal may have been more suitable.

The original plan was to box Trent path lane, climbing back up the Quarr but Checombe Lane was the obvious way on and I preferred to climb back up on metal. Coombe lane was selected, rising up over Ambrose Hill before bumping into a colleague and the long unclassified run back down to home.

I will add part 1 soon; the ribs and gutters … 

Onto wheels and back to the moor

An early start on New Year’s Eve seems to be poor planning but the roads were quiet despite the fog.

I was meeting with a cycling group from Sampford Peverell who were then transferring to the moor.  Starting from Postbridge a spectacle ride would loop out through Pizwell Farm before circumnavigating Challacombe Down and returning by a mettaled minor road.

Once the post bridge was crossed the East Dart was followed on the northern side.  Lined lane gave way to a handrail and it became clear this was likely to be a muddy ramble.  Once we were above the river the gloop took over and we waded in search of islands of normality.

Dropping towards Pizwell the fords provided an opportunity to clean up but back on the tarmac the over enthusiastic hedge trimming claimed its casualty – a front wheel puncture.

An anti-clockwise round of Challacombe then commenced.

Through the farm with medieval dwellings the north east corner now includes a permitted diversion.

The only climb of the day was rewarded with a rocky descent before turning left again and following the Webburn River through the mine workings.  A climb into Soussons Down provided a wooded change before catching the earlier path and up to the Cairn Circle.

Left at the grid drops onto double track, a pretty ford and gladed path back out onto the Postbridge road.

Chocolate, cake and craic greeted us as we cleaned bicycles for our return.

Thanks for the top image Dan.