On Monday 25th June, twenty-five of us set off from the car park at Cadover Bridge to walk the length of Wigford Down to Dewerstone Hill and then back to the highpoint of the Down with its robbed cairns before returning down the slope back to the car park. The weather was as forecast, “wall-to-wall” sunshine. The briefing this time included warnings about ticks and adders, as reported on Facebook – social media can be useful. During the recce’s for this walk I picked up a tick on 1st June and saw an adder on 21st June.
Cadover Bridge, crossing the River Plym, seen approaching from the car park, this is marked as Cadworthy Bridge on the 1840 Meavy Parish Tithe Map. There was a ford here in ancient times called Cad-a-ford, no doubt the origin of the name by corruption to “Cadover”.
The nearby farm is Lower Cadworthy Farm, where “worthy” is from the Saxon “worthig” meaning a one-family smallholding (in Devon Place Names) and Cad was a name for the River Plym
Cadover Cross, at SX 55327 64715, a waymarker on the Monastic Way over Wigford Down between Plympton Priory and Tavistock Abbey: the track is described in Eric Hemery (1986), Walking Dartmoor’s Ancient Tracks, Robert Hale, London, pages 165-181 (see pp.171-172). The double concentric earth banls around the foot of the cross are unusual and probably date from the time when it was erected. This occurred twice, in 1873 and around 1915.
The photograph of the cross head was taken to show the lichen growth for comparison with the following photograph …..
This photograph was taken over eleven years ago. The main incised cross can be seen clearly as well as the small crosslets on the side arms and the top of the main incised cross.
There is a cairn cist at SX 54420 64424. Although this was obviously a burial place in the Bronze Age, later Bronze Age farmers built a field division i.e. a small wall or hedge across the eastern half of the cairn. Much of Wigford Down is patterned with these field divisions although many are now overgrown with bracken in the summer.
The stone cist, or kistvaen, is still largely intact even though the side stones have toppled inwards somewhat. The cap stone is substantial.
Cadworthy Tor is at the top of the River Plym valley side from Lower Cadworthy Farm, just above Cadworthy Wood.
The photograph above was taken from Cadworthy Tor looking at the path ahead, to Dewerstone Hill, topped by Dewerstone Rocks and labelled as Dewerstone Tor in the old tithe map. Cadworthy Tor was then labelled as Oxen Tor.
The Dewerstone or Dewerstone Rock is the cliff face towards the left edge of the previous photograph, which is very popular with climbers.
The ruins of a double-walled structure cross the end of the Dewerstone promontory at SX 5393 6408, cutting it off from the rest of the countryside, with protecting steep slopes on two sides down to the valleys of the Rivers Meavy (to the west) and Plym (to the south). This is reported to be Neolithic (circa 2,500 BC?), pre-dating the Bronze Age (circa 1,000 BC?). This is a rare fortified position on Dartmoor. It has been very neatly cleared of vegetation by someone but there was noticeable regrowth of bracken between reconnaissance walks on the 1st and 14th June.
On approaching the summit rocks on Dewerstone Hill, there is a small outcrop to the left of the approach path, seen above. At the near-point to the camera (right half of the photograph), there is a plaque that has been well inset into the rock, at SX 53792 63898. It bears the words – Falling Leaves Return to Their Roots. This is a Chinese proverb.
There are a number of memorial inscriptions on the flat summit rocks, such as CARRINGTON – OBIT – SEPTEMBRIS MDCCCXXX (1830). This is in memory of Noel Carrington, a local Dartmoor poet. There are also W FORD, F DODRIDGE and F WIDGER. It is possible that Widger was a member of the the old shop, “Widger’s”, by Charles Church in Plymouth that sold glass, paints and wall paper etc. until about 1980.
As the weather was quite hot and dry, the usual coffee stop was probably more welcome than usual on this walk. Unfortunately. there was very little shade to be had!
About half way between the hilltop and the Neolithic double wall there is a single wall believed to be from the Bronze Age. This forms something of a U-shaped structure, with the open end facing the hilltop. There is a large hut circle incorporated in this wall, although it was too overgrown to show the walkers at this time of yesr – the bracken was rather high here.
L stone at SX 54415 64550 (140 metres north of the cist). There are perhaps eight of these stones running diagonally (at 45° west of north from the cist) to the far side of the Down. These are boundary stones between the lands of Sir Ralph Lopes (of Maristow Estate, to the north-east) and Mr Scobell (holding inclosed land at Urgles / Goodameavy, to the south-west), settled after a meeting on the Down as described in a letter by the Maristow steward and land agent George Giles. The letter was dated 18th February 1841. The line of posts also follows the boundary (on older OS maps) of the section of land formerly owned on Wigford Down by the National Trust
After a long leg of the walk, 1.46 km (0.91 mile) from Dewerstone Hill, broken only by the L stone and nothing else to see on the ground (but there are amazing panoramic views in all directions to see) we reached the summit of the Down. Along the way, it was explained what a waypoint on the walking route labelled “MAMBA” meant – Miles And Miles of not a lot to see, although that’s not what the Marines say when they are march across the moor, apparently! On the summit, according to old records, there were two very large and prominent stone cairns. These were robbed at some point when the nearby road was constructed. The one pictured above is now just a dew pond.
The second cairn on the summit still has a few stones but these are in a modern arrangement, at one time they were an “Observation Post”.
The significance of waypoint MAMBA-2 was explained as Miles And Miles to the BA stone. So, Buckland Abbey or nearby Brisworthy Arrishes (= fields)? This is not so simple. Mike Brown (2001) Guide to Dartmoor, CD-ROM, Dartmoor Press, Grid Square References 5470 6515 and 5474 6513, citing a land deed from 1561, eventually identifies this location as “the Angle or Corner of West Cadworthy hedge“. This was to do with the bounds of a piece of land formerly called Cadworthy Moor, smaller than today’s Wigford Down. I am still confused.
A little way south-east from the summit are another pair of cairns, at SX 5468 6496, one is very much robbed out …..
The second cairn is still of interest in that it is a kerbed cairn with four massive kerb stones still in place and another that is somehow displaced.
near the top of the Down there are patches of Common cottongrass, Eriophorum angustifolium, that has several seed heads on a single stalk. Below, see that Hare’s-tail cottongrass, Eriophorum vaginatum, has a single seed head on a stalk.
As captioned above, there are a number of simple cairns on the slope down towards the cross and the River Plym. These are essentially unadorned round banks of earth, all neatly sporting a covering of bracken while it doesn’t seem to grow nearby.
Near the bottom of the slope, near the Medieval stone cross, are patches of the single-headed Hare’s-tail cottongrass.
The final photograph is an impression of the stones lining the approaches to Cadover Bridge, there are quite a number of these stones that all look quite similar in size. We need to have a closer look at them to see how they were cut, if they were cut, of were they found this size? There is (or are) one or two C-stones (County stones) associated with this bridge; originally these were erected one each side of the bridge, about 100 yards from its centre. After the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII, bridge maintenance became a duty of the County where no other authority, owner, Hundred, Riding, City, Borough, Town or Parish could be held responsible. The stones were probably erected around 1840.