Sunday 25th November saw 24 DPA members and friends meeting at Lydford High Down car park, just up the lane by the Dartmoor Inn, near Lydford. The weather was dull with white overcast cloud and a forecast of a 10% chance of rain and a “feel-like” temperature of -1°C. In truth, I didn’t think it felt quite that cold, but I was wrapped up!
The route for the walk was an easy one, starting up the middle of the Down, then to the ford and down the left bank of the River Lyd to Doetor Farm. After a coffee break and a good look around the farm, including a visit toan abandoned granite trough on the slopes of Doe Tor, we retraced our steps back to the river crossing and then walked down the river bank to the Hunter Memorial at Black Rock. From there, we returned to the cars.
The terms “Doetor” and “Doe Tor” seem to have been used interchangeably over many years.
The view to Bray Tor (above) includes Arms Tor on the left and Sharp Tor on the right. After checking these on a map following the first reconnaissance walk, I realised that the “pimple” somewhat to the right of the rocks on Arms Tor is actually a section of Great Links Tor …..
The photograph above is a highly-zoomed view of a part of Arms Tor (left, 1.4 km / 0.86 miles distant) with part of Great Links Tor with its triangulation pillar visible, 2.43 km / 1.51 miles distant.
Widgery Cross on Bra / Brai / Bray / Brat / Broad Tor, erected by painter William Widgery, 1822-1893, to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. William had a son who was also an artist, Frederick John Widgery, 1861-1942. The cross is unusual for a cross on Dartmoor in that it is not hewn from a single piece of granite but built in ten courses of interlocking granite blocks, standing 13-feet high. It is inscribed “W. Widgery, Fecit, Jubilee VR” on the east side at the base.
High Down Ford, SX 5318 8572, where there is a ford, stepping stones and a wooden footbridge (“High Down Clam” bridge) over the River Lyd. There is another, known as Doe Tor Clam, downriver at SX 5277 8471, adjacent to Doe Tor Gate Ford – another route to Doetor Farm and nearby Bearwalls Farm.
After crossing the river, the route turns south-east, more or less all the way to Doetor Farm.
Along this part of the walk, we could look across the river and see Black Rock, where there are two bench seats. The left-most one is below a memorial plaque to Captain Nigel Hunter, who died in France in 1918 (see below).
Doe Tor Falls, at SX 53242 85388, are a series of small falls, mostly hidden by overgrowing gorse, seen above and below the clapper bridge that leads into Doetor Farm.
Doetor Farm is an interesting site. First mentions are as buildings on or near the site in 1740. Before that, “Dowbrokke” (Doe Brook) was recorded as a tin work in January 1598. It was abandoned in 1955. It stood for many years, being photographed in 1969 in ruins, and it is believed it was demolished in 1970. Much of its hostory can be found in a report commissioned by the Ministry of Defence …..
Other aspects of the farm can be found in the Dartmoor Historical Environment Record …..
An abandoned granite trough can be found on the slopes of Doe Tor, at SX 53755 84874. It looks as if the stone-cutter cut of the length of the trough and marked out the thickness of the sides but then didn’t finish it.
The MoD Report linked above mentions the theft of an “edge runner” -in 2005. This is the wheel that runs around the circular trough of a granite cider press. The stone was left, unfinished, leaning against the outside of the boundary wall of the farm. In a similar area, there is another apparently worked circular stone, also left leaning against the hedge. This is covered in moss …..
The outer face of this round stone seems to be convex and would run well in the circular trough of a cider press. Who knows?
After we left Doetor Farm, the weather brightened up – so much so that you can almost see shadows in the group photograph!
The memorial can be visited most easily from the ford by walking down the river bank. It can be approached from over the Down and down a steep slope (this is hazardous when wet or frozen!). It can also be approached along the river bank from a southerly direction via Wheal Mary Emma Ford but the path is somewhat tricky, especially when you meet cows with calves standing on the narrow path! That is a story from the second reconnaissance walk.