On Thursday 13th December, 17 members and friends met at Norsworthy Bridge car park for the lasr short walk of 2018. The weather was quite grey and cold – but there was no rain!

The route started at the small gate that is often overlooked on the left just before approaching the bridge. This leads to a path that climbs through the woods, encountering the ruins of a tinners’ mill almost immediately, on the right. There may even be another even sooner somewhere on the left, near the road.

 

Norsworthy Bridge

Norsworthy Bridge

 

The photograph above shows the bridge and the track that leads up to the ruins of Norsworthy Farm and continues up past Crazy Well Pool and on to Nun’s Cross and Whiteworks.

 

Devonport Leat

Devonport Leat

 

The walk is a pleasant path that climbs and bends left and right until you emerge a little below Devonport Leat.  This is crossed using a clapper bridge near what was a flow monitoring station, this having been part of the water supply system. I understand that it is no longer used, unlike the building at the end of today’s leat that contains a revolving leaf catcher that prevents most debris from carrying on into the water that goes to the water works at Dousland.

 

Cross Gate cist

Cross Gate cist

 

Beyond the leat hut is the Cross Gate cist, a Bronze Age burial site that is now fenced to keep livestock away from it.

 

Fougou below Leathertor Farm, indicated by the pointer

Fougou below Leathertor Farm, indicated by the pointer

 

Returning along the track we then carried on to Leathertor Farm, where we left our rucksacks and went down the slope to see the tinners’ fougou. This is it is where it is believed that tinners once stored their tools. The tinners could have been from Bal Mine, at Norsworthy Bridge, or Keaglesborough Mine, up the valley.

 

Fougou interior

Fougou interior

 

The fougou is a carefully constructed “cave” into the bank, with a slabbed roof and stone-built walls.

 

Leathertor Farm

Leathertor Farm

 

We then went into the old farm at Leathertor. There has been a farm here since 1511, although there is a record of land being rented here in 1362. There were two longhouses and outbuildings and in 1840, when the tithes map was drawn, there were two establishments – East Lethertor and West Leathertor. The ruins above are of West Leathertor: these buildings were erected in 1870.

 

Rain gauge enclosure

Rain gauge enclosure

 

On the slope behind the buildings is an unusual feature, a circular enclosure that is securely fenced …..

 

Rain gauge collector

Rain gauge collector

 

Inside the enclosure is a vessel for collecting rain; this appears on the 1906 Ordnance Survey map.

 

Sharpening wheel base(?)

Possible sharpening wheel base

 

The structure by the farm has been described as a possible base for a cider press, but I don’t think there is room for a horse to walk around it. I have another suggestion, it could have anchored a large sharpening wheel on an iron frame – I used to turn one of these for my father when he wanted to sharpen an axe. The pit would have contained water to lubricate the stone (“whet”, as in whetstone, comes from an old word meaning “sharpen”).

 

Leathertor potato cave

Leathertor potato cave

 

There is a potato cave a few metres down the track from the farm …..

 

Leathertor potato cave interior

Leathertor potato cave interior

 

These were dug into banks, normally into growan (decomposed granite) to make cool stores for root crops.

 

Leathertor Bridge

Leathertor Bridge

 

The next feature on the walk was Leathertor Bridge, built in 1833 for £26/10/0, i.e. £26 10s 0d or £26.50 in today’s money. This is a clapper bridge with parapets, on the site of Riddipit Steps (stepping stones) and an ancient ford.

 

Riddipit Farm

Riddipit Farm

 

A little way up the track by the River Meavy is Riddipit, a medieval farm, first recorded in 1564. The photograph was taken looking upslope, inside one longhouse. There was a second longhouse that is located across what is now a “clearing”, at the left edge of the photograph. Its outline still exists as traces on the ground.

 

Riddipit potato cave

Riddipit potato cave

 

Nearby this farm is another potato cave, shown above …..

 

Riddipit potato cave interior

Riddipit potato cave interior

 

The cave is about 33-feet in length and is known for luminous moss, although it seemed to be lacking at this time of year. The green ring seen from inside looked more like a simple alga

 

Riddipit / Keaglesborough Mine adit

Riddipit / Keaglesborough Mine adit

 

We returned towards Leathertor Bridge from the Riddipit sites, turning left just before reaching it and climbed towards Raddick Lane, entering the Keaglesborough site before reaching the lane.  After crossing the openwork (“gert” or “beam”), we turned left to go a few metres down into the trench to see the adit that drains water from the old underground workings – there are remains of four shafts in the gert area …..

 

Riddipit / Keaglesborough Mine adit interior

Riddipit / Keaglesborough Mine adit interior

 

The adit is quite easy to find at this time of year – just look to see where the water is coming from! It is possible to get very close, but not to look inside as it seems to bend to the left right inside the opening. The photograph above was taken by stretching inside the hole with the camera, taking some flash photos and hoping that one of them shows something.

 

Lower dressing floor wheelpit, Keaglesborough mine

Lower dressing floor wheel-pit, Keaglesborough mine

 

The next area to see was the lower dressing floor, seen above. The main feature here, besides the gert, was the waterwheel pit, which is 20-feet  in length. In the photograph above, the bank ban be seen above it that brought water in by leat. Either side of the wheel, there were apparently stamps and buddles. In the background can be seen the upper dressing floor.

 

Today's group, trying to hide from the forecast "Feels like 3°C" temperature

Today’s group, trying to hide from the forecast “Feels like 3°C” temperature

 

The group photo shows what the weather was like – dull, grey. cold and windy – but still we smile!

 

Upper dressing floor wheelpit, Keaglesborough mine

Upper dressing floor wheel-pit, Keaglesborough mine

 

This photograph is an oblique view across the 30-feet long wheelpit showing the settling pit just beyond, beside the wheel-pit, and the tailrace running down towards the lower dressing floor. In the distance can be seen Leather Tor (left) and Sharpitor.

From the mine area, we walked down the main track to the car park.

 

Satellite map + GPS track of the walk

More photographs on the Dartmoor CAM web site