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!
Contact Keith Ryan, tel. 01752 405245, mob. 07957 976758, 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 – 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 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’?
Tues. 25th July – The Staple Tors – or Steeple Tors as they were known locally
We will see Little Steeple Tor and Middle Steeple Tor with its notch where the midsummer sun sets and the majestic rock steeples of Great Steeple Tor on this walk. We will walk as far as Roos Tor, time and weather permitting, seeing a PW (Peter Tavy / Whitchurch) boundary stone on the way, one or two famous 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 will 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 mention the Quarrymen’s Path, the founding of Tor Quarry, that became Merrivale Quarry, and a Tale of Two Leats.
Approximately: 3 miles, allow 2 hours
Start time: 10.00 am Contact: Keith Ryan
Après walk: The Plume of Feathers, Princetown
Fri 25th Aug – Norsworthy Bridge – out Cuckoo Rock way
This walk will start with the preserved barn at Middleworth Farm with a view to Middleworth Tor, the ruins of Deancombe Farm, down to Narrator Brook, possibly seeing a mine adit, Outhome cist, an old mine shaft and a pleasant passage through Roughtor Plantation to see some of the recently found tors following forestry operations that have cleared some of the previously impenetrable plantation: East Rough Tor, the original Rough Tor, Middle Rough Tor, Roughtor Rock, Great Rough Tor, Great Great Rough Tor, possibly Lower Rough Tor and West Rough Tor. Enough? These are all in a small area and some will impress. Then it is mostly downhill to the car park and passing through Burrator Arboretum.
Approximately: 3 miles, allow 2 hours
Start time: 10.00 am
Après walk: Burrator Inn or The Royal Oak, Meavy
Mon 25th Sep – Grenofen Bridge – River Walkham, West Down Mine, West Down
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!