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John E wrote a review Jun 2017
Lympstone, United Kingdom44 contributions18 helpful votes
After 37 years my wife and I revisited Cranmere Pool in the heart of Dartmoor national Park. You can't drive there, you need to walk and the distance depends where you start from. Our hike started at Belstone not far from the Tor Inn where there is adequate parking and it was a little under 12 miles. June is largely out of season as far as visitors are concerned and on the hike we only met 5 people, lots of sheep and a few horses making it is an area for quiet contemplation and connection with nature. Please be aware of the real dangers of the moor, cold, wet, bogs, heat exhaustion, dehydration and in this area un-exploded ordnance. (Check with local newspapers or the web for the range firing times) If you are still reading this then the walk is not difficult to navigate as there are several tracks and old military roads that can be followed until you reach the most southerly observation post where you leave the road and head due south, but don't be fooled it is not the pool you come to after about 1/2 mile. Keep going for about another 1/2 mile until reaching a stream (West Oakment Head) then follow the stream generally south to Cranmere Pool. The name is a bit misleading as the pool is little more than a puddle and there is no regular postal collection! This is the iconic and first Dartmoor Letter Box - a real must for any enthusiast or serious walker. You can then retrace your steps back to Belstone or go to Hanging Stone Hill approximately ENE then take the trail which rejoins your original trail and goes to Oak Tor and back to Belstone.
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Date of experience: June 2017
2 Helpful votes
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Geoff C wrote a review Aug 2014
Dartington, United Kingdom6 contributions11 helpful votes
Cranmere Pool itself is mainly of historical interest - before the army road it was the most remote point of the Moor. And as others have mentioned, it was the site of the first letterbox in 1854, so it's a place of pilgrimage for letterboxers. But the pool itself is long gone, and it's not a particularly distinguished spot. I would recommend taking it in as part of a larger walk. The usual route from the Oakhampton side is mainly over metalled road and doesn't have much to recommend it unless you are looking for the easiest approach. I prefer to approach the Pool from Two Bridges over Beardown Tor, Devil's Tor, Rough Tor, Fur Tor, Cut Hill and Black Hill. This makes for a tough but wild and enjoyable day over very challenging going: you'll experience everything the Moor can throw at you. The difficulties will be more reasonable if you tackle the route after a dry spell, but don't expect to keep your feet dry! If you're old-school like me and prefer a map to GPS it will also test your route-finding. If you enjoy wild camping, Fur Tor is the most remote point of the Moor and a very atmospheric spot for a bivvy. Please don't tackle this route unless you are fit and experienced - in bad weather an inexperienced party could easily get into trouble... There is also an enjoyable route to the Pool from the West by Tavy Cleave. So Cranmere Pool is of little value in its own right, but of great value if it motivates you to venture into the remote and inaccessible heart of Dartmoor from the South or the West.
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Date of experience: June 2014
1 Helpful vote
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Davidstow wrote a review Aug 2014
Davidstow, United Kingdom28 contributions26 helpful votes
You don't go to Cranmere Pool for the view, but for the sense of achievement in having reached it. This famous but nondescript puddle is quite hard to find without a GPS unit or excellent navigational skills. The post box was the first to be placed on Dartmoor, in 1854. It was put there as it was one of the most remote places on the moor. You would imagine that the presence of a concrete and stone post box would make it easy to see, but it is in a hollow, and in most directions you need to be within 100m to see it, and in some directions it is invisible from only 30m away. Until 2009 reaching it was fairly easy. You drove down the Army "ring road" from Okehampton Camp to Observation Post 15, parked, and then it was just a couple of km south. Some on line accounts of how to get there pre-date this time. Others are written by hard core ramblers who take the terrain in their stride, so to speak. Easy and fast going walking along the "Ring Road" to OP15. (You'll know it when you see it.) The track from OP15 down to the ford over the river Taw is still a good track, but when you strike out from this track you are on your own. Progress was very slow in this terrain, taking a meandering route around the worst of the peat channels in the blanket bog, jumping the smaller ones which resulted in an occasional bootful of mud. A walking pole is essential. There were no tracks, despite what some accounts of the route suggest. The sheep cows and ponies keep well away from this area and so there are not even sheep tracks. I suspect that as it now requires a long walk far fewer people go there than before 2009. So tracks that may have been there have now vanished. If the above makes little sense to you, then go somewhere else instead. A lot of detours and backtracking, hopping from hillock to hillock, in places the whole ground was quivering and shaking, a sign of a 'featherbed moss', where you can break through the solid crust to certain death in the semi-liquid below. Rather like quicksand, but stickier. If you encounter one of these areas don't jump up and down, but backtrack immediately. They would be unlikely to find the body, the peat is 6m deep in places. I know several people who have been there, and they all say that having done it they would not go back again. I would now add myself to that list. It was of course raining, but not too heavily most of the time. If you are really lucky it might not be raining there. I can't say have fun, but at least have good luck in your venture.
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Date of experience: August 2014
2 Helpful votes
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Mary S wrote a review Aug 2013
Okehampton, United Kingdom160 contributions85 helpful votes
Cranmere Pool is one of those remote places on Dartmoor that is a challenge to get to. Since the closure of the 'ring road' to vehicle traffic, it is now a longer walk, but is deserving of this walk, as it is as remote as it would have been in 19th century when it was created. Beware of trying to driving the ring road, as there are potholes in places and on return the barrier may be closed, as its access for permitted vehicles only (army, farmers, national park staff). To get there follow the ring road from the car park by barrier to the closest OP (military observation post), and then head off using map and compass bearings. Be warned, there are boggy patches, so you'll need to walk to points along your bearing, rather than walk on a bearing. The box is placed within a small depression 'a pool', so it's not on the horizon like the Tors. You can programme the point into GPS. In order to get there you need good waterproof footwear, rain gear and a 1:25000 map and compass. Recommend leaving plenty of time to this, and taking in the Tors on route. You don't go to cranmere pool for the views, it's more for the challenge. But please be well equipped and know how to use the map and compass, as otherwise you'll not enjoy the journey. Check out military firing schedules, as the range may be closed, usually open most school holidays and many weekends. For those that enjoy wildlife, there is the chance to see skylarks, snipe, golden plover, ravens and possibly ring ouzel along the way. Flowers in the boggy pools may include sundews.
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Date of experience: August 2013
1 Helpful vote
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fleetwood7 wrote a review Aug 2013
Oakland, California3 contributions5 helpful votes
well to start with, I didn't read enough information on line about where to start my trek to CP. I just asked others who had been there. I started out asking people at the local tourist spots like mortonhampstead about how to get there. They were pretty ignorant of the whole thing. I finally happened on a handyman in a parking lot who encouraged me and got me to okiehampton army base. There are signs warning that cars are not permitted past the cattle guard but I could see other violators of this rule ahead of me so we pushed forth. We had the Ordinance survey map and a gps which both showed the dirt road we were driving on and finally came to a sign which said "no bicycles". we kept driving south until the road turned east and I felt I was as close as I could get to the box. I had a garmin etrex20 that I could program british grid coordinates into but I hadn't learned how to use it. I used the map and compass to walk a mile south across the worst ground ive ever seen, it was intermittently boggy, with grass covered hard mounds every 2-3 ft. I walked until I felt I was where I needed to be and NO SIGHT OF THE BOX. So I sat down, pushed buttons for 20 minutes and finally programmed the gps which gave me a vector to the coordinates I was seeking. Following the gps, the box was about 200 yards away in a sunken depression. The weather had been dry and warm and Moor was walkable, I wouldn't do it again unless I had the gps coordinates already programmed and if it was wet, Id never again walk it alone. Ive read there is quicksand out there and people do disappear. As for driving, don't listen to the naysayers and just keep trucking, it will cut hours off your trip and the road is fine even for rental cars.
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Date of experience: July 2013
2 Helpful votes
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