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!
The farm nameplate has been renovated.
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.
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 (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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
Another crane base, inside the quarry. I believe there are seven crane bases in total.
The photograph above shows the view looking north towards Yellowmeade. beyond which can be seen the two fir trees at Red Cottages.
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, at SX 556 738, elevation 400 metres (1312 feet) is a very scenic tor …..
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 day was so easy-going that I nearly forgot to take a group photograph.
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.
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.