Saturday 25th January saw 20 DPA members and friends gather at Lowery Cross car parks for a circuit of Yeanna Down, Yeannadowne (1662), known in recent times as Yennadon Down – it was named so well that they “Downed” it twice. The weather was “exceeding grey” – some folk telephoned to cancel because they were caught in mist and couldn’t get to the meeting place. It was a grey day but there was no rain until mid-afternoon, by which time we were (I hope) all home again.
While not on the walk, most of us would have driven by car from the B3212 Dousland/Princetown road passing Yennadon Cross which is at the junction of this road with the Lowery Cross/Welltown road. Incidentally, the 1823 Thomas Tyrwhitt horse-drawn tramway is shown cutting diagonally across this crossroads on the 1840 Walkhampton Tithe Map.
This PCWW pillar is somewhat “suspended” in the hedge between the two car parks, between the entrances, the base of the pillar seems to be exposed.
The walk headed in a northerly direction towards the main road but then curved left to towards Dousland, along a wide and pleasant track for some time ….. passing the dome-covered Dousland water reservoir. We later passed a modern farm gate that probably marks the spot (judging from field hedge on the tithe map) where the 1823 horse tramway Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway would have passed north towards Princetown.
From the gateway mentioned above, we followed the track southwards along the old tramway route, seeing a few of the original granite setts (stones) that held the iron rails, just before reaching the entrance of today’s working quarry, Yennadon Stone. The quarry works hornfelsed slate that was heated by the nearby granite intrusion that forms the bulk of Yennadon Down and the rest of Dartmoor.
The next feature was to see the top end of the modern Iron Mine Lane that runs up from the Dousland/Meavy road. It is named after Meavy Iron Mine that ran a little way onto the moor (see below).
This property is located at the top end of Iron Mine Lane and reflects the possibility the there was a railway halt nearby, or it may have been chosen for reason of the romance of the past.
Walking up form the top of Iron Mine Lane, we followed a rough track up alongside the mine workings, onto the open moor again ……
Near the upper end of the mine workings there are one or two quite deep pits. The mine was never very successful.
The mine workings are in the background of this photograph. There was a searchlight installation here in WW2 which would have helped to protect RAF Harrowbeer on Roborough Common at Yelverton, also its decoy airfield near Clearbrook, as well as Burrator reservoir with its dam and, perhaps further away, the city of Plymouth.
Twice on this walk the “dry” Devonport Leat is crossed, this first time by means of a clapper bridge.
The photograph above is where both the 1823 horse-drawn and the 1883 steam-drawn railways entered Yennadon Down from Dousland. The 1823 tramway turned a tight loop and proceeded up the west side of the Down, where we had just walked …..
This next photograph shows the loop where the 1823 tramway turned a hairpin bend (in the righthand part of the photo) to then come back and proceed north to Princetown. The 1883 steam railway was built on top of the earlier railway and ran away to the east (in the left section of the photo) towards the dam and Burrator Halt and then up the east side of the Down.
Along the Princetown Railway, there is the remains of a cattle creep, this being necessary because the railway was fenced to protect livestock from the trains, but they needed to be able to cross it somewhere …..
The cattle creep is considerably larger than any sheep creep!
After the walk route bends north, near another PCWW 1917 pillar, there is the site of what seems to be an isolated Bronze Age hut circle next to the path.
As can be seen from the group photograph – the sun did not favour us!
Before reaching an area of woodland behind Burrator Lodge, there is a memorial seat with quite a view!
A view of Sheeps Tor – Narrator (seen on the last walk, around Sheeps Tor) can be seen on the left flank just before it comes down to merge with the far horizon. Also, the wall running up through the central open area is the corn ditch wall that we also saw on that walk.
There is a simple, inconspicuous stone set in the ground about 100 yards from the memorial seat. It is close to the wall around the wood and is apparently the last remaining boundary stone that marks the iron mine “sett”, or area granted for exploration. There is an old map that shows thirteen stones originally.
While walking along the top edge of the wood, you can look down through the trees and see the route of the old steam railway. We joined this route for part of the walk, including the bridge over a small road that runs from Lowery Cross down to the reservoir and Burrator Discovery Centre.
Further along the track. the area opens out at the site of Lowery Crossing, where there was a level crossing, a signal box and a cottage for the crossing keeper. The cottage was on the open green area while the signal box was across the track in the area that is now fenced.
The walk ended with a short walk along another small road where there was once a TA marker stone, taken from the Tavistock-Ashburton medieval packhorse track, that was used as a gatepost. The last item of interest we saw was the godacre where the three lanes meet near Lowery Cross. This is the small grassy triangle of land that made turning easier for carts and wagons in the past.