What a day!  29 DPA members and friends met at Yellowmeade track car park, the old Mission site across the road and the old Pump House up the road for a walk to Foggintor quarry  on Monday 25th February. The weather was simply gorgeous – blue sky, wall-to-wall sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures. Our car was indicating 16°C outside after the walk. We started with a short briefing  and something from the risk assessment – a plea for walkers not to go too close to the rim of the quarry as we walked around it!

 

Yellowmeade sign

Yellowmeade sign

 

The farm nameplate has been renovated.

 

Red Cottages garden gateposts

Red Cottages garden gateposts

 

A short way along the track we reached the site of Red Cottages, or formerly Mount Pleasant. The cottages were actually black in later days because they were painted with pitch to try and make them weatherproof. They must have been somewhat unpleasant during a hot summer. The cottages stood  on the high ground on the left of the photograph and were separated from their gardens by a back lane. The cottages were planned in 1846 and built by April 1849. They were probably demolished in 1953, the same time as Hill Cottages at Foggintor.

 

Yellowmeade Farm with the waste tips of Foggintor Quarry behind

Yellowmeade Farm with the waste tips of Foggintor Quarry behind

 

Approaching Yellowmeade, the spoil tips of Foggintor Quarry are prominent on the horizon. The track here used to be laid with a horse-drawn tramway that, according to William Crossing in The Dartmoor Worker, went to Higher Quarry. This was probably at Hollow Tor or Hill 60. The granite setts that carried the iron rails were lifted during the General Strike in 1926 by the quarry apprentices – they were too young to go on strike.

 

The Cake Stone

The Cake Stone

 

The Cake Stone (SX 56716 74118) sits right beside the track, which runs north from Foggintor to the B3212 road. The setts that carried the railway were made along the way – this is borne out by the “sett makers’ bankers” sites also along the way. These however are not the typical stone benches, merely piles of the stone chippings typical of sett making activity. The stone above was abandoned partly worked, it would have provided eight setts.

 

TA stone used as a gatepost in a blocked-up gateway

TA stone used as a gatepost in a blocked-up gateway

 

There is a TA stone (SX 56662 74036) of the Tavistock-Ashburton Medieval packhorse route that was incorporated into a gateway in the wall of Yellowmeade Farm, now blocked-up. The “A” shows clearly in the sunlight in the photograph above.

 

Granite tramway setts, grooved with wear

Granite tramway setts, grooved with wear

 

Granite tramway setts showing signs of wear alongside the wall of Yellowmeade Farm. To the right of centre in the photograph above, against the skyline, can be seen the ruins of Hill Cottages at Foggintor.

 

The second drill testing stone, near Hill Cottages

The second drill testing stone, near Hill Cottages

 

There are two drill testing stones to be seen on this walk, one just before reaching Yellowmeade and this one before reaching Eva’s Farm. In both of them the test holes are not very deep.

 

The ruins of Hill Farm aka Eva's Farm with Big Tip and King's Tor behind

The ruins of Hill Farm aka Eva’s Farm with Big Tip and King’s Tor behind

 

Just before reaching Foggintor, there is the site of Hill Farm (the area was known at onetime as Hill Quarry although it was originally Royal Oak). It is also known as Eva’s Farm, after Henry Eva, one of the tenants.

 

Hill Cottages, seen from the tramway track

Hill Cottages, seen from the tramway track

 

Hill Cottages are marked by the still quite spectacular ruins of two cottages – the space between these walls was taken up with a branch railway line that carried waste out to the eponymous Big Tip. Just off the right side of the photograph, to the front, are what is left of the walls of the old chapel that also served variously as a school, living quarters, a school again (1913-1915, after Mission Hall became unsuitable), a workshop and then a private dwelling. In 1861 (Census), there were 267 people living here. There are believed to be ten cottages built here around 1846 with the last resident leaving in 1951. They were demolished in 1953.

 

Stone lintel (aka mantle, clavel) in one the ruined cottages

Stone lintel (aka mantle, clavel) in one the ruined cottages

 

Just off the right edge of the photograph above, are the ruins of one row of cottages and in the furthest one can be seen the stone lintel above.

 

Crane base (foreground) with Foggintor Quarry behind

Crane base (foreground) with Foggintor Quarry behind

 

Turning around from where the photograph above of the ruins of the two walls is the scene above – the northern entrance into Foggintor Quarry, which is partially flooded. The “circular” structure in the foreground is an old crane base.

 

Looking down into the quarry, with King's Tor and the railway track behind

Looking down into the quarry, with King’s Tor and the railway track behind

 

Looking north-west across the quarry towards the second, hidden southern entrance into the quarry. King’s Tor is in the background with the straight line of the old railway track running left-right beyond the quarry.

 

One of seven crane bases said to be in the quarry

One of seven crane bases said to be in the quarry

 

Another crane base, inside the quarry. I believe there are seven crane bases in total.

 

View north across the quarry to Yellowmeade

View north across the quarry to Yellowmeade

 

The photograph above shows the view looking north towards Yellowmeade. beyond which can be seen the two fir trees at Red Cottages.

 

Royal Oak Cottages, later Gibbs Cottage. Formerly, the weighbridge

Royal Oak Cottages, later Gibbs Cottage. Formerly, the weighbridge

 

The site of the quarry weighbridge, on the end of a short siding from the main railway line. It then became Royal Oak Cottages (the original name of the quarry) and then Gibbs Cottage.  Swell Tor can be seen on the skyline, another large quarry, with its waste tips – a destination for another walk. This might be contentious but it is possible that the protuberance on the skyline to the left of this photograph is Crip Tor – that is its position on the Tithe Map (see below).

 

King's Tor, Great King Tor on the 1840 Tithe Map

King’s Tor, Great King Tor on the 1840 Tithe Map

 

King’s Tor, at SX 556 738, elevation 400 metres (1312 feet) is a very scenic tor …..

 

1840 Walkhampton Tithe Map

1840 Walkhampton Tithe Map. Copyright – Devon County Council

 

Interestingly, the Tithe Map (1840) shows no sign of Foggin Tor or the branch line to the quarry. In 1840, the area was a veritable hive of activity.

 

The group near Gibbs Cottage, Foggintor

The group near Gibbs Cottage, Foggintor

 

The day was so easy-going that I nearly forgot to take a group photograph.

 

Explosives store at West Mead Quarry

Explosives store at West Mead Quarry

 

On the return leg of the walk, we saw some features that were omitted on the 25th November 2017 walk when it started snowing! Today, we turned down the slope after passing Yellowmeade to pass through a Bronze Age enclosure with three round houses (hut circles) to reach the explosives store in the photograph above.

 

West Mead Quarry, view from the end of the quarry down through the entrance

West Mead Quarry, view from the end of the quarry down through the entrance

 

The final point of interest was West Mead Quarry – a little under 100 metres from the nearest point of the gardens at Red Cottages. Looking straight down the cutting of the entrance, in the distance, is Vixen Tor. The small “bump” a few degrees to the left is Pew Tor – not to be confused with King’s Tor, the large prominence near the left edge of the photograph.

Satellite map + GPS track

More photographs on the Dartmoor CAM web site