I’ll admit that Crownhill Tor was something of an irritant; not even within the national park and surrounded by the awful china clay works that scar the landscape. I expected little of the walk to bag this one, possibly there, back, job done. I’m pleased to report I was wrong!
I pulled in at the car park a short distance from Whitehill Tor, opposite the Lee Moor Clay Works. Prepared for a quick twenty minute bag, I went east along the busy road, crossing the open access field, south, towards Crownhill.
Through another gate, the tor stands above you. A collection of scattered granite across the hill, with a low outcrop on its summit, it was proving to be as disappointing as I envisaged it.
Its summit views were dominated by the clay works on Lee Moor, but if you can blot out the glare from the exposed pits, you’ll notice that Whitehill Tor has a lot more to offer than can be seen from the road. It was then I decided to make this walk a circular.
First, I took a quick look further south, to the top of the hill, but the view had been decimated by Headon China Clay Works.
I started down towards Whitehill Tor, a little uncertain as to how I was going to get there. The route enters the Torycombe Valley and crosses a brook. This is right on the edge of some clay works and access wasn’t obvious on the map.
Stepping into Knowle Wood, the walk took on a different feel. Whilst the clay industry was still a few metres away, there were pockets of this combe where you could be a million miles away.
I could hear the rushing of water and gravitated to the steep banks of Tory Brook where I discovered a wonderful scene of tumbling water. I later found there is a waterfall marked on the map, this is further upstream and I didn’t visit it, but the falls I found were good enough.
The sheer drops of the brook, here, meant I couldn’t cross so I descended to the valley floor where I encountered a good place at the base of a leat.
I followed the leat up to a works track, the other side of which I could see a lot of exposed granite hidden within the woodland. Encountering Whitehill Tor much lower than expected was exciting.
Also known as Torrycombe Tor, a name I prefer and will hence call it from now on, I had previously bagged the tor in the height of summer when the bracken hid its extent well. On this occasion I felt I was visiting a new tor!
Occasionally, when the outcrop has forced a clearing of the woodland canopy, there is a sharp reminder of your location, surrounded by the works. This little green valley is a real oasis.
Clambering over the top of the lower outcrop, I came to the major works road to the pits below. The other side of this road, Torrycombe Tor upper appears.
At first glance you could argue that, considering the distance between the two outcrops, this could be two tors, but I expect they had been parted years ago when clearing for the road.
Climbing up to the top of the tor and over was a simple affair without the barrier of bracken. Its summit popping out of the woodland, it possessed a pleasant view over the Torycombe Valley, Knowle Wood, and further to Crownhill Tor.
Once over the top, you have in front of you a short footpath leading to the busy road and the car park. This is the route I had taken when I had previously visited the tor and had been unimpressed. Now, just before spring had begun to cloak the scene, I could really appreciate Torrycombe. I suggest other tor baggers to do the same.