It is important that you book a place on these free walks – car parking can be limited on Dartmoor – on 25th Feb. 2017 with 28 of us, some were double-parked at Four Winds – and with 38 of us on 25th Mar. 2018, many of us were triple-parked.
Contact Keith Ryan, tel. 01752 40 52 45, mob. 07957 97 67 58, or preferably email email@example.com with your tel. number for details or to book a place and whether you want to join the Après walk lunch – which is not free! The pubs like to know how many to prepare for. You will be added to the “blind” email group so that you receive reports and updates about the walks.
The DPA introduced short guided walks each month, starting on 25th January 2017. The date will normally be the 25th of the month except in December.
The walks will be about two hours in length, walking approximately three miles. They are free and are designed for members and non-members who feel they cannot join the longer walks that the Association has always offered. They will start at 10.00 am, with a brief coffee stop near the halfway point, and following the walk there will be an optional lunch at a local hostelry. The lunches are not included!
It is hoped that in this way, we can introduce new walkers to the pleasures of the moor in a safe manner, or attract older walkers who no longer undertake strenuous walks, or walkers who do not want to venture out on their own. The walks will start from easy-to-reach car parks and will be on ground that is not difficult, following established tracks where possible.
There will be an “added value” aspect to many of the walks in that they will be followed by a web page of photographs, explanatory text and a GPS track put onto a Google Satellite View that shows exactly where we walked. You can zoom in on these and see a lot of detail, but not quite see your footprints!
So, if you would like to try the delights of Dartmoor walking, why not come along and give it a ‘go’?
Wednesday 25th April 2018 – Houndtor
Starting at Swallerton Gate, we may douse at a cairn and cist, skirting Hound Tor, see Greator Rocks, with Hey Tor in the distance, promenade around Holwell Lawn, tour the deserted medieval village and finally visit the impressive Hound Tor.
Approximately: 3 miles, allow 2 hours
Start time: 10.00 Please contact: Keith Ryan
Friday 25th May 2018 – Windy Post
Starting at Plaistow Down, below Pew Tor, we will see bulls-eye stones that regulate water to properties from the Grimstone and Sortridge Leat, Pew Tor and its marker stones, Windy Post aka Beckamoor Cross and the leat branch, Barn Hill cist, the blacksmith’s shop and wheelwright stone, and Heckwood Quarry, returning via Pew Tor again.
Approximately: 3 miles, allow 2 hours
Start time: 10.00 Please contact: Keith Ryan
Previous walks – 2018
Sunday 25th March 2018 – Great Mis Tor
On Sunday 25th March thirty-eight of us met at Four Winds car park where many of us were triple-parked, allowing four or five other visitors access to their cars for escape purposes! We walked first to Little Mis Tor where the story of the cross was told. On the way, a few of us needed short stops to admire the views – it was a clear blue sky day and the views were excellent. Some of the more energetic walkers were directed over to the corner of the prison land to see a DCP stone (a Directors of Convict Prisons boundary marker). The rest of us continued straight to Great Mis Tor where we stopped for our regular coffee break and for some to climb up to see Mistor Pan – an old Forset of Dartmoor boundary mark that was cited in the 1240 Perambulation of the Forest boundary. We then walked down the slope to Little Mis Tor again and then branched off across the slope. On this leg we saw the WW2 mortar/gun pit emplacement and the odd-looking square pits that were storage positions for ammunition. The area was used in training by troops just before D-day in 1945. There were also a number of hut circles leading down to Over Tor Brook streamworks, or the gert that forms a gash across the slope. There was still the last remains of March snow in the gert. After crossing the gert we saw rabbit buries and Church Rock before reaching Mrs Bray’s Washhand Basin, as it is called in Mrs Bray’s book from 1871, called thus in her husband’s journals that the book makes much use of. From here, we contoured back to the car park.
Sunday 25th February 2018 – Postbridge – Lakehead Hill – Bellever Tor
Starting from Postbridge main car park, we crossed the road to walk through a part of the forest to the open area on Lakehead Hill. The first item of interest was the Bronze Age Kraps Ring, an impressive enclosure containing twelve confirmed hut circles – these being the remains of round houses. There followed a variety of other prehistoric artefacts, namely cairn circles, cists and a stone row or two. This area is rich in Bronze Age archaeology rich area – and still available to see thanks in no small part to us – Dartmoor Preservation Association! During the planning stages for forestry on the moor, Dartmoor Preservation Association campaigned to keep the Bellever area free of trees because it was so rich in antiquities. Eventually it was agreed that planting would leave a clear belt running from Kraps Ring up over Lakehead Hill and down to Bellever Tor so that much of the antiquities would not be lost. This was presumably before 1938, by which time the eastern slope was planted. The western slope was planted between 1940-1943. Source: Matthew Kelly (2015). Quartz and Feldspar. Jonathan Cape, London, pages 248-260.
The walk continued to Bellever Tor where we had a brief coffee stop. We then returned mainly through part of the forested area, seeing another cist en route.
I meant to ask them to pose behind the monument …..
Thursday 25th January 2018 – Norsworthy Bridge
Starting from the Bal Mine car park at Norsworthy Bridge, this group 1st anniversary walk passed Middleworth where two tors were pointed out, the smaller referred to today as Little Middleworth Tor and the larger, impressive tor overlooking the farm site referred to as Middleworth Tor on this walk. Both tors have been called both Middleworth and Snappers Tor but there is reason (see following) not to use “Snappers”. We then passed Deancombe farms before reaching Cuckoo Rock, where we had a coffee break sheltering from the breeze. We reached the rock by a high level approach, to avoid the boggy section on the main track after Deancombe. We then headed directly to Combshead Tor, and then to Down Tor (Hingston Hill) stone row – another of Dartmoor’s apparent sun calendar sites, where summer solstice sunrise and sunset features were suggested. A little dowsing was attempted but without result on this occasion – on other occasions I have had a result when walking across the row between it and the circle. The next objective was the flank of Down Tor, to visit a cist and two hut circles – remains of Bronze Age round houses. We then followed a route that Little Down Tor, with its poised rock. There was then an optional detour to see the site of what was possibly the original Snappers Tor – between two fields both called “Snappers” in the 1840 Walkhampton Tithe Apportionments. The site of the tor is on the edge of a deep tinners’ gert. The final sections of the walk passed Middleworth and Little Middleworth tors, finishing through a field where tinners’ trial pits were seen.
Previous walks – 2017
Monday 11th December – Clearbrook
This was a non-too exposed walk from Clearbrook starting with an old Buckland Monahorum/Bickleigh parish marker, and on to Drake’s Plymouth Leat, inaugurated in 1591, a jewel of Roborough Common. We came upon the leat at the breach made by William Crymes shortly after the leat was inaugurate in 1591 – this fed Crymes’ Clearbrook Leat and the “Tale of Tinners and the Star Chamber at Westminster” was told. We then crossed an area of pure Common until we reach and old quarry with its mysterious small bumps (or is it humps?) in the ground – we later learned that these were dumps of earth put here in preparation for any “banking” jobs to be undertaken locally by the National Park rangers. We then followed a small road to Leighbeer Tunnel, having coffee on the old Shaugh Bridge Halt railway platform. The next item of interest was the overhead section of the Wheal Lopes Leat! On the way through the tunnel, we saw the none-too-imposing entrance to the Bickleigh Vale Phoenix Mine – this looks better in the photographs than on the day! Once out of the tunnel, we saw a section of the Wheal Lopes Leat alongside the track and also where it crosses under the track. Here, we were on part of the Plymouth to Tavistock cycle track which we followed to Clearbrook where we saw a final sign of Crymes’ Leat and (some of us!) passed the Skylark Inn on the way back to the car park. Our usual lunch was then in the Skylark Inn.
Sat 25th November – Foggintor Leat – Mission Hall – Pump House – Hill 60 Quarry – Hollow Tor Quarry – old prison boundary stone – DCP stone – tv transmitter – North Hessary Tor – trig. pillar – PCWW 1917 mark – mystery “TOR” mark – Albert Coles’ granite shed and quarry – Red Cottages
Having called a change in car park from spacious Four Winds to Yellowmeade Farm track due to the poor ground underfoot, we found it almost full, so we parked across the road by the Mission Hall, up at the Pump House and one car at Four Winds, starting 10 minutes late! There was snow on the ground. After crossing the leat that once supplies Red Cottages, Yellowmeade and Hill Cottages at Foggintor and the quarry, we walked to Hill 60 Quarry and then Hollow Tor Quarry. At this point the sky became black and it started snowing for a while. Next were the old prison marker and the “new” DCP stone, before reaching the tv transmitter and North Hessary Tor – where we hid behind the tor for a short coffee stop. Then, down the slope to the mystery “TOR” marking that goes back to an old Duchy/Walkhampton Common boundary dispute and “Uncle Albert’s Quarry”. This being the quarry upslope from Yellowmeade next to Albert Cole’s granite shed. From here we beat a hasty path to Red Cottages, with a little chat en route about what else we should have visited. However, it was cold, we were running a few minutes late, I had a taxi job to ferry someone to Four Winds and twelve of us were booked for lunch in the comfortingly warm Plume of Feathers in Princetown. It was a successful – if snowy – November outing!
Weds 25th Oct. – Goad Stone – Bronze Age cist – stone row – stone pits – RAF Sharpitor sites – Royal Observer Corps bunker – Lowery Tor – Medieval longhouse – Leather Tor – Bronze Age enclosure – DPA boundary stone – Sharpitor
Sixteen of us met at Sharpitor car park on what was forecast to be a rather dull day. Apparently, a warm front passed over faster than expected and we had quite a glorious walk! We started (and ended) with the search for the Goad Stone, moving on to a Bronze Age cist and stone row. Then we considered a bit of a mystery on the slope up to Peek Hill where the ground was obviously disturbed. We talked about RAF Sharpitor buildings, longhouses and then quarrying activity. The conclusion was that these were old stone pits where individual stones were dug out, possibly for building, perhaps for houses or for the nearby road. One walker pointed out what appear to be old wheel tracks where wagons could have been loaded. Then we saw remains of the “Domestic” i.e. residential site of RAF Sharpitor and briefly talked about the mast and wartime Gee Chain System navigation set-up circa 1942 at the “Technical” site at the top of the hill. It closed down after 28 years, in 1971. Close by is the underground bunker of the Royal Observer Corps that worked until the end of the Cold War. It appears that this was set up in the 1950s and closed in 1991. Our next target was Lowery Tor, looking down to Burrator and Lowery barn, followed by the Medieval longhouse under the summit of Peek Hill. Next, with views of Leather Tor, was the Bronze Age reave and enclosure en route to Sharpitor, passing a DPA boundary stone along the way. The DPA are the owners of Sharpitor. On the tor, we saw the possibly unfinished Sharpitor cross (or is it?!) and the unfinished trough. Then it was a simple trek back to the car park. Those who partook of the Après Walk feature of these walks then gathered at the Burrator Inn.
Mon 25th Sep – Grenofen Bridge – River Walkham, West Down Mine and associated features, West Down
Nioneteen of us did this walk down the picturesque River Walkham with its elvan dikes producing “white water” here and there, visiting the elvan quarry with its sett makers’ bankers, seeing the leat that runs down most of the valley to mine workings, to both streamworks and mining remains, passing the West Down copper mine chimney and other mining (smelting) ruins further down the valley including the kiln, the “Walkham Waterfall”, Buckator, including two small tors of country rock (slate) and returned via West Down.
Fri 25th Aug – Norsworthy Bridge – out Cuckoo Rock way
This walk started from Norsworthy Bridge car park with 28 of us present. We saw the preserved barn at Middleworth Farm, with a view to Middleworth Tor, and discussed the old arrangement of the longhouses and the presence of a horse-wheel. Then on to the ruins of East Deancombe and West Deancombe farms. From there, we proceeded down to Narrator Brook, and up the steep path to a coffee break. Next, we saw the Bronze Age Outhome cist, an old mine shaft and then had a pleasant passage through Roughtor Plantation to see some of the recently found tors following forestry operation: East Rough Tor, the original Rough Tor and Middle Rough Tor. These are all in a small area. Then it was mostly downhill to the car park. I forgot to take a group photograph!
Tues. 25th July – The Staple Tors – or Steeple Tors as they were known locally
Twenty-five of us gathered at the Ress Jeffreys car park, aided by the Cross of St. George, on a warm, sunny day. Before setting off, the Tale of Two Leats was told, with reference to the opening of Tor Quarry in 1876. We then walked to Little Steeple Tor with its rock pan and on to Middle Steeple Tor, avoiding the bounteous clitter streams coming down the slope. Middle Staple Tor has the notch where the midsummer sun sets when viewed from near the menhir and stone circle at Merrivale. Next along the way were the majestic rock steeples of Great Steeple Tor. En route to Roos Tor, we saw one of the PW (Peter Tavy / Whitchurch) boundary stones, one of the stonemasons’ marks and some of the 14 “B” pillars – an early action by the Duke of Bedford to preserve the Dartmoor scenery as the stonemasons attacked the tors for granite. On returning near the car park, we diverted to see some sett makers’ bankers, where men toiled in the making of granite setts that were used in the cobbled streets of Plymouth and Tavistock. We will also mentioned the Quarrymen’s Path and the founding of Tor Quarry again, that became Merrivale Quarry. It was to the quarry that sett-making transferred once it was open. Fourteen of us had a very convivial lunch afterwards at The Plume of Feathers.
Sun. 25th June – Roborough Rock – the dry Devonport and Plymouth (Drake’s) leats
It was a fairly grey morning to start with pm Sunday 25th June when thirteen of us gathered by Roborough Rock. Luckily, it cleared away and we even had some sun towards the end of the walk. We saw a bit of RAF Harrowbeer WW2 aerodrome, parking in one of the fighter dispersal bays. I pointed out Knightstone, the original Watch Office (or “control tower£) until a proper one was built in 1941. Roborough Rock and old names for it were enumerated, then the base of an Allan Williams gun turret was seen. A Jubilee drinking fountain and the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee monument were seen before crossing the toad. Across the road, the bumpy ground covered in trees was explained to be part of the workings of the South Roborough Down Mine (similar in appearance to that previously seen at North Roborough Down Mine, where we followed the gert. There were several views Devonport Leat (inaugurated in 1801), Drake’s Plymouth Leat (Inaugurated in 1591 – as well as seeing the pipe connection between the two leats. The granite setts of Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt’s horse-drawn tramway, constituting the Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway (opened 1823) were seen, along with a rare piece of surviving iron rail. Then, a view to Sheepstor, kissing gates, Elford Town Farm, Yeoland Consols Mine, explanation about the elusive tor of hub Tor and Milepost 13 on the P&D Railway. As luck would have it, I saw the owner of Chubb Tor later on the walk; we had a few words and shook hands, with knowing smiles!
Thu. 25th May – Sharpitor, for Leedon Tor & Ingra Tor
On a beautiful, clear blue sky, sunny day, we looked first at the Walkhampton Common Reave from near the car park, running up to near the summit of Sharpitor – one of the DPA-owned land-holdings on Dartmoor. The reave ends near Princetown and is one of the Dartmoor reaves that “separates” river valleys, in this case the Rivers Meavy and Walkham. These long reaves are marked on Ordnance Survey maps as “Boundary Work.” We then visited three small Bronze Age hut circles, a large hut inside a circular enclosure and another large hut circle nearby before making our way through the rocks to see the reave close-up. From there we walked to Leather Tor, crossed the Great Western Reave that runs for about six miles from near Sharpitor to White Tor, near Peter Tavy. This reave is regarded as a “territorial” reave. On the way to Ingra Tor cist we stopped for the national one-minute silence to contemplate recent events in Manchester. Photos were taken to visualise the lining of granite slabs inside the cist. After a short coffee break on the slopes of Ingra Tor, from where we looked down into the quarry to see the two crane bases, we had a look inside the quarry. After discussion about the Princetown Railway, as we were on the old track bed, we talked about Ingra Tor Halt and the famous notice about snakes was read out. From there, we looked under the railway inside the cattle “creep” that permitted livestock to cross the railway, where various holes were seen in granite setts that were re-used from the original horse-drawn tramway. These were to anchor the fishplates that held the original iron rails. Then it was a walk along the railway to above Routrundle where the two large Bronze Age circular pounds were discussed, incorporated into the field system of Routrundle and Babyland medieval farms. On the last leg of the walk, we looked back and had a clear view of the northern pound at Routrundle and also saw one of the old benchmarks from when Britain was first surveyed in the Principal Triangulation of Britain for modern mapping, carried out between 1791-1853.
Tues. 25th April – Burrator and Devonport Leat
This walk started at the Burrator Quarry car park with a look at the SSSI – Site of Special Scientific Interest rock face, trying to ‘spot’ the pink granite intrusion (270 million years ago) into the 380-million-year-old Devonian “hornfelsed” (changed by great heat) Devonian rocks. We then proceeded along the old Princetown Railway track with views over the dam and reservoir, via Burrator & Sheepstor Halt station, with its “kissing” gates. Passing various memorial benches, we reached the end of the running Devonport Leat, where we had a special “treat” because someone was working inside the building I have always known mistakenly as “the pump house”. This is in fact a water quality monitoring station with various instruments and a leaf-removing device We had a brief lecture about it worked and were allowed a look inside! From there, we followed the leat for some distance, passing Lowery Sluice, until we reached Lowery Tank. There are quite a few locations in the area using the name “Lowery”, derived from Low or Lower Worthig (Saxon for “settlement”. This relates to Norsworthy (north settlement), Essworthy (now under the reservoir, east settlement), Middleworth or Middleworthi (middle settlement) etc. We then visited Lower Lowery to see the restored barn and have a coffee break. Then it was down to the lakeside. Following the lakeside path, we visited the Burrator Discovery Centre for a short talk by Emily Cannon, the South West Lakes Trust Learning and Community Officer, before passing the waterfall (deriving from the leat) and Click Tor before returning to the car park again. It was a smaller group on this occasion due to various commitments and we had a very friendly outing.
Sat. 25th March – Roborough Down
From a car park among the old road network in the middle of the old WW2 RAF Harrowbeer, we set off to the site of North Roborough Down Tin Mine, descending into the gert and following it down to the Drake’s Trail (Sustrans National Route 27) cycle track. We continued down the gert but not quite far enough to see the iron fence panel embedded in the centre of a 70-year old tree. We4 followed the track to the old railway station at Horrabridge and then climbed gently onto the down. We had an easy long leg across the down, enjoying the vista of tors: Cox Tor, GreatStaple Tor, Pew Tor, Great Mis Tor, Little Mis Tor, King’s Tor, Swelltor Quarry, North Hessary Tor, the trees at Princetown, Ingra Tor, South Hessary Tor, the DPA’s own Sharpitor and Peek Hill. Finally, we saw artefacts of WW2 RAF Harrowbeer: the “duck pond” and base of the small arms ammunition store, the bomb ramps and their trammel rings, and other signs of the WW2 aerodrome. These included pill boxes, a covered rifle defence trench, and the bases of the control tower, the signals square and the compass platform. RAF Harrowbeer both protected Plymouth and later provided cover for wartime operations over the English Channel and across to Brittany.
Sat. 25th February – Merrivale Antiquities.
Twenty-eight of us started with some hut circles and an abandoned crazing millstone. Then we visited the double stone rows where alignments of stones were pointed out that forecast the midwinter and midsummer solstices as well as the equinoxes – all important to the Bronze Age farmers. The stone circle and menhir were visited and the tinners ‘ scarring of the landscape at Long Ash Pits, where extensive “tin streaming” had been carried out. The days of the old TA (Tavistock to Ashburton) Packhorse Track were recalled, as we listened on the wind to hear ghostly sounds of a pony train passing! That pony whinnied at just the right moment! Finally, the story of Foggintor School (at Four Winds) and it’s predecessor at the Mission Hall were described.
Weds. 25th January – Crazy Well Pool. The group met at Norsworthy ridge and, after a briefing, set off up the track to Norsworthy Farm (an old medieval longhouse complex). In the track, we saw the “drill stone” looking a bit like a gorgonzola cheese, covered in practice drill holes – presumably by a blacksmith who sharpened the miners’ drills (from Bal Mine). We examined the ruined Norsworthy stamping mill site, Leathertor Bridge and the Keaglesborough mine area with its large gert and wheelpits. From there, we proceeded up Raddick Lane to Crazy Well Pool. Then, back to the abandoned mill stone and the ruins of Roundy Farm. The track was then followed down past the broken double mortar stone and the “feather and tares” stone where someone abandoned a stone cutting enterprise, back to the car park.