Southern double stone row at Merrivale

Southern double stone row at Merrivale

 

Due to demand, it is important that you book a place on these free walks – car parking can be limited on Dartmoor – on 25th Feb. with 28 of us, some were double-parked at Four Winds – and one car was triple-parked for a while!

Contact Keith Ryan, tel. 01752 40 52 45, mob. 07957 97 67 58, or preferably email kpryan@btinternet.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 have introduced short guided walks each month, starting on 25th January.  The date will normally be the 25th of the month except in December – in 2017, the walk will be on Mon. 11th Dec.

The walks will be just two hours in length, walking about three miles. They are free and are designed for members and friends 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 halfway, 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, not too far from Plymouth and Tavistock, and will be on ground that is not difficult, often following established tracks.

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’?

 


Next walks

 

Saturday 25th November – Four Winds / North Hessary Tor

This walk heads for the Hill 60 Quarry, Hollow Tor Quarry, a “secret” tor, prison and PCWW marker stones, and North Hessary Tor television transmitter and trig pillar. Then, a gentle descent to see Albert Cole’s granite shed and quarry to Yellowmead Farm, going on to a Bronze Age settlement, West Mead Quarry and Red Cottages -= that were actually black cottages later in their existence.

Approximately: 3 miles, allow 2 hours

Start time: 10.00      Please contact: Keith Ryan

 

Monday 11th December – Clearbrook

Non-too exposed walk from Clearbrook seeing Drake’s Plymouth Leat, inaugurated 1591, a jewel of Roborough Common. This leads to Cryme’s Clearbrook Leat and a “Tale of Tinners and the Star Chamber at Westminster”. We then pass through the RAF Harrowbeer decoy airfield (few signs remaining) and see a view over Shaugh Prior. A return section of the walk passes along the old South Devon & Tavistock Railway, now the Devon Coast-to-Coast or Drake’s Way cycle path.  A feature of this is Leighbeer or Shaugh Tunnel which has an adit of Bickleigh Vale Phoenix Mine.

Approximately: 3 miles, allow 2 hours

Start time: 10.00      Please contact: Keith Ryan

  

Thursday 25th January – Guided Short Walk – Norsworthy Bridge

Starting at Norsworthy Bridge, this group anniversary walk passes Middleworth and Deancombe Farms before reaching Cuckoo Rock. Then to another ancient farm, at Combshead, with its potato cave!  After Combshead Tor we walk to the Hingston Hill stone row – another of Dartmoor’s apparent sun calendar sites.  Then we head for Down Tor returning either straight back the scenic way or via a cist and hut circles.

Approximately: 3 miles, allow 2 hours

Start time: 10.00      Please contact: Keith Ryan

 


 

Previous walks

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 were 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 used. 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 bopundary stone along the way. The DPA are the owners of Sharpitor. On the tor we saw the possibly unfinished cross (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.

DPA walkers on the summit of Peek Hill.

DPA walkers on the summit of Peek Hill.

DPA blog post with photos, text and GPS track of the walk on a Google Satellite map


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.

Walkers after coffee break, exiting the River Walkham valley

Walkers after coffee break, exiting the River Walkham valley

DPA blog post with photos, text and GPS track of the walk on a Google Satellite map


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!

Middle Rough Tor

Middle Rough Tor

DPA blog post with photos, text and GPS track of the walk on a Google Satellite map


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.

 

Walking back from Roos Tor to Great Staple Tor

Walking back from Roos Tor to Great Staple Tor

DPA blog post with photos, text and GPS track of the walk on a Google Satellite map.

 


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!

 

The group nearing the end of the walk

The group nearing the end of the walk

DPA blog post with photos, text and GPS track of the walk on a Google Satellite map.


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.

 

Back at the car park, on a sunny day.

Back at the car park, on a sunny day.

DPA blog post with photos, text and GPS track of the walk on a Google Satellite map.


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.

 

DPA blog post with photos, text and GPS track of the walk on a Google Satellite map.

 


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.

 

Twenty-two walkers on the third DPA Short Walk, 25th March 2017

Twenty-two walkers on the third DPA Short Walk, 25th March 2017

DPA blog post with photos, text and GPS track of the walk on a Google Satellite map.

 


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.

 

DPA blog post with photos, text and GPS track of the walk on a Google Satellite map.

 


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.

 

The group at Crazywell Cross.

The group at Crazywell Cross.

DPA blog post with photos, text and GPS track of the walk on a Google Satellite map.