Saturday, March 12, 2016

Haytor

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A brief visit to Haytor, as we were in the area and I haven't been there for many years. Haytor is one of the most famous and reconisable features on Dartmoor and it bulby protrusion can be seen from many miles away. From the carpark (free and with a handy ice cream van) the walk to Haytor looks easy and gently sloping. This is an illusion, and in the fact the hill rises quite sharply to the summit, although it isn't a long way to walk. I had to stop a few times on the way up to take some photos, look at the view and catch my breath a bit. I was starting to feel that I'd become unfit over the winter, but was cheered up by the huge wheezing sound coming from a party of young french schoolchildren, all being marched up the hill on a geology field trip of some sort, or maybe just a sightseeing trip, but many of whom sounded much more breathless than I felt. Odd really, shouldn't young people be fit rather than wheezy?

Being one the famous and easily accessible tors, Haytor is very busy, and people really do feel the urge to climb right on top of it for some reason, something I never really get the feeling to do, but each to their own. There are certainly some good views from here on a clear day, southeastwards to Teignmouth and the sea, or northwards to various other bits of Dartmoor. I should imagine on a windy and wet day this place might be an altogether different experience.

In 1953, Haytor was used as a major location for the feature film Knights of the Round Table starring Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner. An "elaborate and impressive castle" was built between the two main rock piles of the tor and traditional medieval sports, including jousting, were staged here for the film.

There are quarries in the area and Haytor granite was used in the reconstruction of London Bridge which opened in 1831 and was moved in 1970 to Lake Havasu City in Arizona. The last rock was quarried here in 1919; it was used for the Exeter war memorial.

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