It is important that you book a place on these free walks – car parking can be limited on Dartmoor and with 38 of us on 25th March 2018, we were double and triple-parked at Four Winds.
Contact Keith Ryan, tel. 01752 40 52 45, mob. 07957 97 67 58, or email email@example.com for details or to book a place and whether you want to join the Après walk lunch – which is not free! The pubs like to know how many to prepare for. You will be added to the “blind” email group so that you receive reports and updates about the walks.
The DPA introduced short guided walks each month, starting on 25th January 2017. The date will normally be the 25th of the month except in December.
Note added 6th Feb 2019: Due to the popularity of these walks and in the interests of parking, safety and enjoyment of all, we may trial organising some walkers to walk on 24th and of the month to give two smaller groups.
The walks will be about two and half hours in length, allowing for a short coffee break, walking approximately three miles. They are free and are designed for members and non-members who feel they cannot join the longer walks that the Association has always offered since its founding in 1883. They will start at 10.00 am, with a brief coffee stop near the halfway point, and following the walk there will be an optional lunch at a local hostelry. The lunches are not included!
It is hoped that in this way, we can introduce new walkers to the pleasures of the moor in a safe manner, or attract older walkers who no longer wish to undertake strenuous walks, or walkers who do not want to venture out on their own. The walks will start from easy-to-reach car parks and will be on ground that is not difficult, following established tracks where possible.
There will be an “added value” aspect to the walks in that they will be followed by a web page of photographs, explanatory text and a GPS track put onto a Google Satellite View that shows exactly where we walked. You can zoom in on these and see a lot of detail, but not quite see your footprints!
So, if you would like to try the delights of Dartmoor walking, why not come along and give it a ‘go’?
PS – The “D365” references below are the squares that we walk in as listed in the book, Dartmoor 365 by John Hayward (1991), where each of the 365 square miles of the National Park is represented by one of 365 pages in the book. The book has recently been revised by Rob Hayward (2018).
Next walks – 2019
Sunday 25th August – Rowtor, High Dartmoor, target railway
This walk will visit the disused military target railway. First, we will climb Rowtor (468 m/1535 ft) – with an option to take the military road around it! We will then proceed to the site of two field gun emplacements and then the railway. Once curiosity is satisfied between the engine shed and the turning loop, we will continue the walk in a “circle” on the military tracks. In good weather, there are fine views of the highest tors on Dartmoor, Yes Tor and High Willhays. D365-C8
Wednesday 25th September – Commandments Stone, Buckland Beacon
From Cold East Cross we should see the Teign estuary, EPB 1837 Buckland Manor and other boundary stones, Buckland Beacon and the Commandments Stones, Jubilee Stone, Welstor Common, Well’s Tor (also known as Welstor Rocks), Welstor Common Rifle Range, and hopefully some lime-loving ferns growing on old mortar – maidenhair spleenwort & black spleenwort. Also, there be sheep creeps. D365-N17
Friday 25th October – Magpie (Bedford) Bridge
Monday 25th November – Widecombe village
Thursday 19th December – Sheep’s Tor Circular (from the Arboretum)
Sunday 25th August – Rowtor, High Dartmoor, target railway
The walk started from the car park below Rowtor (468 m/1535 ft) – with an option to take the military road around it! Although there is an Historic Environment Record of an abandoned cider press with a central boss somewhere on the northern slopes, it wasn’t found during preparations for today’s walk. Instead, twenty-one of us took the easy path to the summit, stopping to look at the swing-up/swing-down flagpole and a supposed abandoned trough on the way. The summit of Rowtor has interesting rock piles. From here it was an easy descent to the military track and onto the old anti-tank firing range. The two firing positions and their command post are now demolished. We walked across the firing ground to see the steel target plate used for some weapons – this was impressively pock-marked by seemingly two calibres of projectiles. Behind the steel plate is an earth embankment that protects the target railway – this provided training at destroying moving targets, nominally tanks. The set-up consists of an engine shed that once housed a Wickham Trolley with a petrol engine, a track system of overall length of about 235 metres (260 yards) that includes two turning loops. The railway dates from 1959 – there are two older systems on nearby Black Down (F Range) and OP6 Incline Target Railway between East Mill Tor and Oke Tor (northern flanks). These date from around 1880s/1890s and are mostly ground works, of banks and cuttings. These were built perhaps after the first Boer War (1880-1881). We headed east from the railway to a military road and then turned south to New Bridge, passing an O-P-B boundstone along the way – an Okehampton parish boundary stone, onto the Forest of Dartmoor parish. The bridge is an old clapper that is reinforced with concrete, no doubt for military use. The bridge crosses Black-a-ven Brook. There is then a hike along the military tracks to the famous OP22 i.e. Observation Post no. 22, beside Hart Tor. It might be argued mischievously that OP22 is the latest Dartmoor longhouse since it was divided by a wall for the Range Clearance Officer to occupy one end and his horse to be stabled in the other! There followed the return to the car park, passing the old L (Lydford) parish boundary stone beside Blackaven Brook. In good weather, there are fine views of some of the high tors on Dartmoor. D365-C8
Thursday 25th July – Crock o’ Gold Cist
From Duchy Square in Princetown, we set off on the Two Bridges road, passing the 1908 defunct drinking fountain (one of two) provided for by RH Hooker. Just before passing the last cottages on the right, we turned right, going through a gate. There is a good view of the prison from here. A little way up the track, we saw a strange contraption – one of the level crossing gates from the GWR railway at Dousland. It was used, apparently, as an early cattle “crush”. A little further up the track there is an arrangement of old wooden poles, constructed so as to now form a training system for tug-of-war training. Once we were through an area of old fields, we considered Bachelors Hall Mine – there is now little to see from the track, the mine being on private land below Tor Royal. However, there is a lot of detail on Historic Environment Records, such as three shafts, adits, a water wheel pit, a now-dry leat etc. The original mine leat was taken over and extended for use as a foul leat (drain) from the prison. A second leat was dug for the mine. We crossed over the still-running Devonport Leat and proceeded down to Bachelors Hall, going down towards the Blackabrook River to see the old building that was presumably the original corn mill. Somewhere here, over the years was also a naphtha works, mill/mine or farm cottages and a brewery. The modern buildings are currently being renovated. Further along the track there is a wooded area on the left where the tithe map shows what was probably the smelting works, with a water wheelpit still visible and flat dressing floors. Records show that 27 tons of white tin were produced here. Next, we were onto Conchie Road, built by conscientious objectors during WW1 when they were housed in the prison. There were views to many distant tors from the rough road and also to the not-so-distant Blakey Tor. Finally, we reached the Bronze Age burial cist and cairn circle of the Crock of Gold, but it was empty! We returned along the same route. D365-N8, N9
Tuesday 25th June – Drakeford Bridge, near Lustleigh
Another overcast but quite balmy day, when twenty-one of us met in the car park at Drakeford Bridge. There was a little fun and games for some as we arranged the parking. Then a forestry workier came along with a big 4×4 and wide trailer and one long estate car was sticking out blocking its access when the owner returned with her dog and all was well. We walked through the Woodland Trust’s Pullabrook Wood beside the River Bovey, looking for Douglas fir cones with their distinctive triple-spined bracts between the scales. We followed the upper (gently ascending) track to the gate out to Trendlebere Down, onto Old Manaton Road. We did see some wood ants at work on the next stretch, near the recent Lustleigh Parish boundary stone that was erected to mark the millennium, inscribed “LP MM”. We followed this as far as the Pudding Stone and turned right, down to the river and ford beside Hisley Bridge (Hisely is the spelling on the 1841 tithe map). This is where we stopped for coffee – and where someone reported seeing a pair of grey wagtails. We saw the pair of old granite gateposts on the ground and looked at the old slotted gatepost at the end of the bridge, complete with two iron gate hangers. We wondered whether this could have been for toll purposes, it being reputed to be a Medieval bridge. We then continued along the route through Hisley Wood where we saw various bird and bat boxes and a box lower down on a tree that someone suggested may have been for dormice. There is a point where the route leaves Hisley Wood and enters Rudge Wood where I once saw the magnificent Rudge Oak, now sadly gone. It was estimated to have been 150-160 years old. On this walk we measured two other oaks beside the path as being 126 and 138 years old (the latter is open to interpretation because of the allowance for thick ivy stems growing up the trunk). from the woods we passed through Rudge Meadow and emerged onto a very narrow lane, seeing the old iron road sign to Rudge & Sanduck in one direction and Lustleigh & Moreton in the other. Other old bridges were then seen: Packsaddle, beyond which is a 2-arch viaduct of the old South Devon (later, GWR) Railway and then back to Drakeford Bridge, whose name suggestes there was once a ford at this site? An inscribed stone on Drakeford Bridge, in the middle, downstream side, says …..
The “4” in the 1684 is inscribed back-to-front. It was a well-enjoyed walk. D365-J20
Saturday 18th May – Meldon Dam
It was another grey say after a period of warm sunny weather when seventeen members and friends met at Meldon Dam car park. After quite a steep path down to the woods, we started seeing the features of interest – starting with a high bank of unknown function beside the river (presumed for a tramway for handling rock). Next was a well-presented adit, right by the path. We then crossed the first cam bridge (wooden footbridge) to see two water wheelpits and some finger dumps). The wheels drove flatrods to pump the limestone quarry as it dug deeper into the ground. Then it was back across the bridge to see Meldon Pool, the site of the old limestone quarry. It is as deep as the nearby viaduct is high. We surmised that as the limestone got deeper to dig (blow) out, the quarry became uneconomical. Along the track was a weighbridge and its building, right before the lime kiln. This was a “recent” one – there is a pre-1790 kiln across the river. Limestone was burned with charcoal to produce quicklime that was used to “sweeten the soil” for agriculture. We then walked beneath Meldon Viaduct into the bluebell area, This was best seen after a descent to the West Okement River and crossing a second clam bridge. Then we climbed to see more bluebells, passing under the viaduct and down to a coffee stop. This was in front of the old lime kiln, near an old crushing sheds setup for producing railway ballast. We then saw the turbine house and walked up past the presumed glass factory area to the old aplite quarry buildings (incl. weighbridge building complete with scales inside). After visiting the south aplite quarry, we then looked down over its rim! Then it was a mountain track hike along a contour to Meldon Dam and Reservoir, seeing the two surveyors’ pillars used during construction. D365-B6,C6
Thursday 25th April – Hurston Stone Row
It was quite a grey, cool day when twenty-two of us met at the car park near the Warren House Inn and the parking along the road at the public house. We started up the road and saw a WB stone (Headland Warren Bound stone) that dates from about 1790, when the area was a very active tin mine area and rabbits were bred for meat. We then crossed the road and headed northwards along a green track to the Water Hill mine workings – a large open “gert” or beam-work with a filled-in pit or mine shaft. There is a deep shaft at Wheal Caroline, not far away. Continuing, the next feature was a real Dartmoor curiosity, or rather, two of them – the V stones. These are suggested to have been anchorage points for machinery but that is unsubstantiated at present. The ends of V’s are each drilled with a hole. These are situated just beside the track and beyond them is a green clearing with the ruins of an old building, beyond which is the roughly circular (overgrown) pound known as King’s Oven or Furnum Regis (in Latin) – a name recorded in the record of the 1240 Perambulation of Dartmoor that noted the boundary of the Forest of Dartmoor after King Henry III gifted it to his brother, Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall. This is said to be an old smelting area. In the centre ofo the pound (Bronze Age?) is an abandoned mill-stone, said to be a the lower half of a crazing mill (used before stamping mills and water power). From here, we followed the “D32127 Pixie Path” for 1 km to the Hurston Ridge double stone row. This has a ruinous burial cairn at the uphill end and a blocking stone at the downhill end. The literal highpoint of the walk was the Water Hill cairn (no doubt the “real” i.e. landmark marker of the Perambulation rather than the quite nebulous afore-mentioned pound. there is a view of Princetown, 7-miles distant, from the cairn. Descending directly to the road, an impressive gert, probably part of the Wheal Caromine mine workings almost surrounds the Warren House Inn. On the way back to the cars, we passed the site of Cap’n Mosed Baawden’s, Bungalow (or King’s Oveb Bungalow, demolished 1976). There is a green-painted telegraph marker within its bounds. D365-H13,I13
Monday 25th March – Jay’s Grave & Bowerman’s Nose
Twenty-nine of us (again) set off from Swallerton Gate car park, looking at the gatepost with its iron gate-hanger and the medieval incised cross-head set in the garden wall of the cottage. This is possibly the headof the cross that was known as Swine Path Cross that is mentioned in a description of the boundary between Chagford and Ashburton Stannaries that dates from the last meeting of a Stannary Court in 1786, at Crockern Tor. We then walked along the fairly quiet road to Jay’s Grave. This is at an old cross roads because Kitty Jay was a workhouse Apprentice who hanged herself and therefore couldn’t be buried in hallowed ground. The Burial of Suicide Act 1823 put an end to this practice. Extensive online searching of the digitised records of local civil parishes have not revealed who Kitty was (most likely not her real name). From here we proceeded along road and across Cripdon Down to “Crippon” Tor for a prolonged look at the views while having a coffee break. The next point was a ladder stile which we all negotiated successfully and then a steep path down to the overgrown medieval Blissmoor longhouse. After a short walk on the level, we climbed the slope of Hayne Down up to Bowerman’s Nose, where the story of the hunter and the witches was told. From here, it was a simple walk under Hayne Down Tor (or Rocks) and down to Moyle’s Gate. On the small road back to the car park, we saw some alpacas next to the road. D365-J16, J17 (K17)
Monday 25th February – Foggintor
Twenty-nine of us set off along the Yellowmeade track, where we looked at Red Cottages albeit that they were later black cottages, going out to the impressive area of the disused quarry at Foggintor. We discussed the track having been a tramway (railroad) to service old quarries and that the granite setts were lifted by quarry apprentices in 1926 during the General Strike. Apprentices were too young to strike! Along the way we saw two drill testing stones in the track, a split rock that was held open with a stone wedge, the Cake Stone that was destined to provide eight setts and at least two sites where setts were trimmed – “sett makers’ bankers”, but without the benches. We also saw the TA stone used as a gatepost in the Yellowmeade newtake wall where the gate was blocked-up. After passing Eva’sm Farm, we talked about the uses that the old chapel at Foggintor was put to (chapel, school, living quarters, school again 1913-1915) and a work shop). In the ruins at Hill Cottages there was a heavy lintel to be seen. One of the group pointed out the “WS 1903” inscription just inside the quarry entrance, where we passed the crane base. We then started on a circuit around the rim of the quarry, stopping for coffee in a windless spot with good views. After regaining the old tramway track, we passed the old smithy, Gibbs Cottage, the loading dock, stables and the Manager’s house before returning to Hill Cottages. We then returned back alomng the track with views of the distant ors in glorious sunshine, diverting to see the West mead Quarry, its explosives store and ruined buildings. These items were omitted in November 2017 when we walked to Hill 60 and Hollow Tor quarries and then up to North Hessary Tor and it started snowing!
Friday 25th January 2019 – Shaugh Bridge
Thirty-one Short Walks followers gathered at Shaugh Bridge car park where the walk promised remains of four C19th industrial activities: (1) china clay drying, (2) granite quarrying with its own tramway system and well-preserved inclined plane, (3) ironstone mining and (4) brick works. We started with the clay drying sheds with their 1895 datestone and saw some white clay nearby. Then it was over the River Plym footbridge – with a look to Shaugh Bridge itself. We proceeded up the rough-paved track to the Dewerstone Iron Mine smithy, passing the collapsed adit on the left with mention the old shaft behind the adit. A drill-testing stone was pointed out in the track. A little further up the track we saw the point where the leat to a waterwheel crossed the track and mentioned that the original 25-inch OS map has an “Aqueduct” label at this point. We saw the 1st of 7 quarries at the end of the tramway near Pixie Rock, with another two quarries just past the Rock. After the 4th quarry we ascended the 1-in-6 inclined plane and saw the winding house and the last three quarries on the higher level. After a coffee break, we went back down the plane and proceeded to Dewerstone Cottage. After describing this site as being the old “counting house”, stables and smithy for the quarry system, we walked down the long slope to the River Meavy. We followed the bank back towards Shaugh Bridge until we saw the adit that has a grille, another part of the Dewerstone Iron Mine. On the higher ground behind this, is another old shaft. This led on to the waterwheel pit where the 16 x 3 ft wheel presumably gave power to “stamp” the iron ore for mixing with the clay for making bricks. The bricks also used unwanted sand etc. from the clay works. The bricks were baked in the Caspar & Brogden tunnel kiln beside the Meavy. From here, we went to the very point of the confluence of the River Meavy into the Plym, and thence back to the car park. D365-T4.
Previous walks – 2018
Thursday 13th December 2018 – Leathertor Farm
Seventeen of us gathered at Norsworthy Bridge on a dull Thursday and climbed west through the woods up to the Cross Gate – Leathertor Bridge track. On the way, we saw the scant ruins of a presumed tinners’ mill, pre-1750. On reaching the track we ascended a little more cross Devonport Leat with its old flow-monitoring hut and carried on to Cross Gate cairn and cist. We then retraced our steps and continued to Leathetor Farm, where we dropped our rucksacks and went down the slope towards the River Meavy to see the old tinners’ cache (fougou or vooga). It is assumned that they left their tools in here to avoid carrying them long distances. We then looked at the ruins of Leathertor Farm, the main ruins being from 1870 although there are traces of medieval buildings here as well. Around the side of the farmhouse there is the rain gauge to see and around the back is what I believe is the base for a large sharpening stone, complete with water trough. We had our coffee stop around the track at this point. Next came the farm’s potato cave, on the way to Leathertor Bridge, with the old ford and remaining stepping stones. Up the valley we saw Riddipit – a site with signs of two longhouses. Further on there is a reputed “blowing house” beside the track although with no signs of a leat, wheelpit or tailrace it is likely to be a cart shed for the farm. The furthest point up the track was the Riddipit potato cave. Then, back down the track until turning left up another track to see Riddipit Gert and its drainage adit. Finally, we were on the lower dressing floor of Keaglesborough Mine, with its wheelpit, tailrace and leat embankment – this was working in 1801. There are also some filled in shafts. The upper dressing floor has a larger wheelpit (30-feet, operating in 1930) and an area for stamps, buddles and a settling pit, as well as the leat embankment and impressive tailrace. D365-P6, P7 & Q6
BATS – Please note, bats sometimes use these caves. All bats are totally protected in the UK and it is illegal to disturb them or even photograph them without a license. Body heat and camera flashes can be very harmful to them. If you see a bat, you should leave immediately.
Sunday 25th November 2018 – Lydford High Down
From the car park on Lydford High Down, twenty-four of us walked across the top of the Down and then crossed the River Lyd by the High Down Ford, using the stepping stones and the footbridge. We then walked in a south-easterly direction, stopping to look at Black Rock and the two seats where the Hunter Memorial is. Then, we stopped to look at Wheal Mary Emma tin mine across the river. next came Doe Tor Falls, largely masked by gorse, beside the clapper bridge into Doetor Farm. We explored the farm and paused for coffee. Next came a sortie onto the slope of Doe Tor to see an abandoned granite trough. Just below the lower boundary wall is a roundish stone that may have been en route to becoming another cider press edge runner: one such was stolen from hereabouts in 2005. We had to retrace our steps back to High Down Ford to re-cross the river because the Wheal Mary Emma Ford was thought to be too hazardous at present, after the recent rain. We then walked down the right bank of the Lyd to visit Black Rock with its memorial to Capt. Nigel Hunter who died in France in 1918. From there, we climbed the fairly steep slope (which was prefereable to descending it) and returned to the cars. D365-G4 & G6
Thursday 25th October 2018 – Black Tor Falls
On a glorious warm, sunny day, twenty-nine of us walked via a Bronze Age cairn and cist, known to some as the Stanlake cist, down to Stanlake farm (recorded in 1281). It was explained that two longhouses were replaced by the more recent other dwellings; from 1683 there was also a third dwelling on the site. A Dartmoor Archive photograph from 1935 shows the final, abandoned dwelling. We then headed along Devonport Leat, along the embankment that crosses old tin workings and Stean Lake (a small stream). Further along the leat, we saw the famous doll’s head – is it an”Indian’s head”, Turk’s head” or simply a “doll’s head with a bonnet”? We saw the leat tumbling down Raddick Hill and across the Iron Bridge (Aqueduct) over the River Meavy. Just past this location, we saw where Hart Tor Brook flows into the water extraction system. We akso saw from a distance, a possible abandoned crazing mill stone resting against the end of the concrete structure that is the confluence of Hart Tor Brook and River Meavy waters. Then we descended into the area immediately below the delightful Black Tor Falls, where there are two “blowing houses – this was our coffee stop. The blowing houses are misnamed because they were stamping mills to grind the tin ore, there are mortar stones but no sign of mould stones, a proper furnace or bellows mechanism for blowing air into the furnace to smelt the tin. From here we will climbed to Black Tor, seeing a capped borehole – a series are to be found across the Meavy valley here from the surveying that was done before Burrator dam was built (opened in 1898), and then to Black Tor and its logan stone. We also saw a double stone row and two terminal ring cairns across the valley from below Black Tor. We returned along a half-hidden double stone row, over which a corn ditch newtakewall was built. D365-O7, O6, P6 & P7
Monday 25th September 2018 – Cox Tor
Seventeen of us took the “tourist” path from the car park, up to what appears to be the tor but isn’t! We went around the prominent rocky escarpment, to another escarpment, and then up to the tor and triangulation pillar. This part of the walk was done taking short respite breaks, for the guide’s benefit if nobody else’s! because the guide needs them! The tor was a good ‘spot’ for our coffee break, with commanding views on this crystal clear day. The tor is incorporated into a large Bronze Age cairn. The route then went to another large summit cairn, with a view to a smaller cairn beyond. The next goal was down the hill to the east to Beckamoor Pool and the Quarrymen’s Path, where we will saw a short ‘run’ of rough paving and heard the story behind it. On the way towards the car park, we will saw a PW stone on the boundary between the parishes of Peter Tavy and Whitchurch. We finished with time for a diversion to the mysterious RB (Radcliffe Bound) marker stones. D365-L4 & M4
Unfortunately, the July and August walks had to be cancelled due to someone having two cataract operations …..
Monday 25th June 2018 – Cadover Bridge
On a glorious sunny day, 25 of us gathered at Cadover Bridge car park and headed for Cadover Cross, re-erected twice, in 1873 and around 1915. This is beside an old monastic way from Plympton Priory across Wigford Down to Meavy with a branch to Shaugh Prior. Next we saw the Bronze Age cist along the way to Cadover Tor. On the way to Dewerstone Hill, we saw The Dewerstone from cadover Tor and then encountered the ruins of a double-walled Neolithic fortification across the promontory. There is also a smaller, single Bronze Age wall. On the top of Dewerstone Hill there are various memorial inscriptions. After a coffee break, we proceeded back towards the east, seeing an L-stone, one of several marking Lopes land from Scobell land around 1841. We followed Bronze Age reaves (field divisions) and remarked on the width of one of the old trackways as being like an airport runway. At the high point of the Down there are various cairns, mostly robbed for road-building – one of them forms a dew pond. On the return to the car park, we passed the lakes of the old Wigford Down (later, Brisworthy) China Clay Works and finally a C (County) stone for the bridge down the side road to Blackaton Cross. D365-T5
Friday 25th May 2018 – Windy Post
Starting at Pork Hill, we crossed the disused Moortown Leat, walked to the top of Barn Hill and proceeded down to the cist. From here, Windy Post, otherwise known as Becka,oor Cross can be seen. After reaching the cross, we first looked at the test st where stone workers would test their drills or “jumpers” for sharpness. Beside the cross is the Grimstone & Sortridge Leat – this supplied medieval manors with their water and still supplies other properties today. The supply is governed by “inch holes” cut in stones and the stone by the cross had two holes cut in it. The first was cut too big, with a 1-inch jumper, and had to be recut with a smaller one. The blocked hole is about two-inches above and left of the functioning hole. We then walked to Feather Tor where we saw some wedge and groove cut stone and a discarded apple-crusher or millstone. After re-crossing the leat, we walked to Pew Tor where we saw several of the hot-cross-bun marks cut into rocks to warn stone workers to keep away from the tor. These date from 1847. Later ones date from 1896. There were also Sampford Spiney Parish boundary stones and two WW2 bomb craters to see here. We then walked downhill, via some unusual ditch-like arrangement reminiscent of a longhouse, via Heckwood Tor quarry back along the leat to the site of the old blacksmith’s shop with it’s wheelwright’s stone to Pork Hill car park. D365-M4 & N4
Wednesday 25th April 2018 – Hound Tor
It was a fair weather day when we walked a short distance from Swallerton Gate car park to look at the old gatepost and iron gate-hanger by the road to Swine Down, before looking at the head of an old Medieval cross built into the garden wall of the cottage. It was postulated that this was from Swine Path Cross, a local landmark on the boundary between the stannaries’ of Ashburton and Chagford. From there, we wound our way up alongside Hound Tor and across the down to the Bronze Age cairn circle and cist. The next port of call was Houndtor Pool, on the top of the hill, suggested as a possible water supply for the abandoned Medieval village nearby. We then navigated to an Ilsington Manor boundary stone in a dry-stone wall, bearing just a crossed “I” on one face. The entrance to Holwell Lawn is via a gateway which has two slotted gateposts. We then proceeded across the Lawn to the ruins of Holwell Lawn Farmstead. It should be noted that this is private land that is used by the local pony club. Close to the farm is the site of the totally ruined Holwell Lawn Cot, now destroyed and overgrown with Gorse and bracken. A walk back down the Becka Brook valley side, opposite Holwell Tor, with its Bronze Age settlements and circular enclosure took us to the ladder stile that leads to Greator Rocks. After passing this impressive pile, we arrived at Houndtor deserted Medieval village – this is a place where we could have spent the whole two hours of the walk, such is the wealth of detail available about the longhouses and other buildings, especially the three corn-drying barns. It is believed that the drying barns were built later because the climate became wetter; then, after the Black Death plague, the village was deserted in favour of better land becoming available. From here, we walked back to the car park via Hound Tor. D365-K17
Sunday 25th March 2018 – Great Mis Tor
On Sunday 25th March thirty-eight of us met at Four Winds car park where many of us were triple-parked, allowing four or five other visitors access to their cars for escape purposes! We walked first to Little Mis Tor where the story of the cross was told. On the way, a few of us needed short stops to admire the views – it was a clear blue sky day and the views were excellent. Some of the more energetic walkers were directed over to the corner of the prison land to see a DCP stone (a Directors of Convict Prisons boundary marker). The rest of us continued straight to Great Mis Tor where we stopped for our regular coffee break and for some to climb up to see Mistor Pan – an old Forset of Dartmoor boundary mark that was cited in the 1240 Perambulation of the Forest boundary. We then walked down the slope to Little Mis Tor again and then branched off across the slope. On this leg we saw the WW2 mortar/gun pit emplacement and the odd-looking square pits that were storage positions for ammunition. The area was used in training by troops just before D-day in 1945. There were also a number of hut circles leading down to Over Tor Brook streamworks, or the gert that forms a gash across the slope. There was still the last remains of March snow in the gert. After crossing the gert we saw rabbit buries and Church Rock before reaching Mrs Bray’s Washhand Basin, as it is called in Mrs Bray’s book from 1871, called thus in her husband’s journals that the book makes much use of. From here, we contoured back to the car park. D365-M6 & L6
Sunday 25th February 2018 – Postbridge – Lakehead Hill – Bellever Tor
Starting from Postbridge main car park, we crossed the road to walk through a part of the forest to the open area on Lakehead Hill. The first item of interest was the Bronze Age Kraps Ring, an impressive enclosure containing twelve confirmed hut circles – these being the remains of round houses. There followed a variety of other prehistoric artefacts, namely cairn circles, cists and a stone row or two. This area is rich in Bronze Age archaeology rich area – and still available to see thanks in no small part to us – Dartmoor Preservation Association! During the planning stages for forestry on the moor, Dartmoor Preservation Association campaigned to keep the Bellever area free of trees because it was so rich in antiquities. Eventually it was agreed that planting would leave a clear belt running from Kraps Ring up over Lakehead Hill and down to Bellever Tor so that much of the antiquities would not be lost. This was presumably before 1938, by which time the eastern slope was planted. The western slope was planted between 1940-1943. Source: Matthew Kelly (2015). Quartz and Feldspar. Jonathan Cape, London, pages 248-260. The walk continued to Bellever Tor where we had a brief coffee stop. We then returned mainly through part of the forested area, seeing another cist en route. D365-K12 & L11
I meant to ask them to pose behind the monument …..
Thursday 25th January 2018 – Norsworthy Bridge
Starting from the Bal Mine car park at Norsworthy Bridge, this group 1st anniversary walk passed Middleworth where two tors were pointed out, the smaller referred to today as Little Middleworth Tor and the larger, impressive tor overlooking the farm site referred to as Middleworth Tor on this walk. Both tors have been called both Middleworth and Snappers Tor but there is reason (see following) not to use “Snappers”. We then passed Deancombe farms before reaching Cuckoo Rock, where we had a coffee break sheltering from the breeze. We reached the rock by a high level approach, to avoid the boggy section on the main track after Deancombe. We then headed directly to Combshead Tor, and then to Down Tor (Hingston Hill) stone row – another of Dartmoor’s apparent sun calendar sites, where summer solstice sunrise and sunset features were suggested. A little dowsing was attempted but without result on this occasion – on other occasions I have had a result when walking across the row between it and the circle. The next objective was the flank of Down Tor, to visit a cist and two hut circles – remains of Bronze Age round houses. We then followed a route that Little Down Tor, with its poised rock. There was then an optional detour to see the site of what was possibly the original Snappers Tor – between two fields both called “Snappers” in the 1840 Walkhampton Tithe Apportionments. The site of the tor is on the edge of a deep tinners’ gert. The final sections of the walk passed Middleworth and Little Middleworth tors, finishing through a field where tinners’ trial pits were seen. D365-Q6, Q7 & Q8
Previous walks – 2017
Monday 11th December 2017 – Clearbrook
This was a non-too exposed walk from Clearbrook starting with an old Buckland Monahorum/Bickleigh parish marker, and on to Drake’s Plymouth Leat, inaugurated in 1591, a jewel of Roborough Common. We came upon the leat at the breach made by William Crymes shortly after the leat was inaugurate in 1591 – this fed Crymes’ Clearbrook Leat and the “Tale of Tinners and the Star Chamber at Westminster” was told. We then crossed an area of pure Common until we reach and old quarry with its mysterious small bumps (or is it humps?) in the ground – we later learned that these were dumps of earth put here in preparation for any “banking” jobs to be undertaken locally by the National Park rangers. We then followed a small road to Leighbeer Tunnel, having coffee on the old Shaugh Bridge Halt railway platform. The next item of interest was the overhead section of the Wheal Lopes Leat! On the way through the tunnel, we saw the none-too-imposing entrance to the Bickleigh Vale Phoenix Mine – this looks better in the photographs than on the day! Once out of the tunnel, we saw a section of the Wheal Lopes Leat alongside the track and also where it crosses under the track. Here, we were on part of the Plymouth to Tavistock cycle track which we followed to Clearbrook where we saw a final sign of Crymes’ Leat and (some of us!) passed the Skylark Inn on the way back to the car park. Our usual lunch was then in the Skylark Inn. D365-S4 & T4
Sat 25th November 2017 – Foggintor Leat – Mission Hall – Pump House – Hill 60 Quarry – Hollow Tor Quarry – old prison boundary stone – DCP stone – tv transmitter – North Hessary Tor – trig. pillar – PCWW 1917 mark – mystery “TOR” mark – Albert Coles’ granite shed and quarry – Red Cottages
Having called a change in car park from spacious Four Winds to Yellowmeade Farm track due to the poor ground underfoot, we found it almost full, so we parked across the road by the Mission Hall, up at the Pump House and one car at Four Winds, starting 10 minutes late! There was snow on the ground. After crossing the leat that once supplies Red Cottages, Yellowmeade and Hill Cottages at Foggintor and the quarry, we walked to Hill 60 Quarry and then Hollow Tor Quarry. At this point the sky became black and it started snowing for a while. Next were the old prison marker and the “new” DCP stone, before reaching the tv transmitter and North Hessary Tor – where we hid behind the tor for a short coffee stop. Then, down the slope to the mystery “TOR” marking that goes back to an old Duchy/Walkhampton Common boundary dispute and “Uncle Albert’s Quarry”. This being the quarry upslope from Yellowmeade next to Albert Cole’s granite shed. From here we beat a hasty path to Red Cottages, with a little chat en route about what else we should have visited. However, it was cold, we were running a few minutes late, I had a taxi job to ferry someone to Four Winds and twelve of us were booked for lunch in the comfortingly warm Plume of Feathers in Princetown. It was a successful – if snowy – November outing! D365-M6, M7, N6 & N7
Weds 25th October 2017 – Goad Stone – Bronze Age cist – stone row – stone pits – RAF Sharpitor sites – Royal Observer Corps bunker – Lowery Tor – Medieval longhouse – Leather Tor – Bronze Age enclosure – DPA boundary stone – Sharpitor
Sixteen of us met at Sharpitor car park on what was forecast to be a rather dull day. Apparently, a warm front passed over faster than expected and we had quite a glorious walk! We started (and ended) with the search for the Goad Stone, moving on to a Bronze Age cist and stone row. Then we considered a bit of a mystery on the slope up to Peek Hill where the ground was obviously disturbed. We talked about RAF Sharpitor buildings, longhouses and then quarrying activity. The conclusion was that these were old stone pits where individual stones were dug out, possibly for building, perhaps for houses or for the nearby road. One walker pointed out what appear to be old wheel tracks where wagons could have been loaded. Then we saw remains of the “Domestic” i.e. residential site of RAF Sharpitor and briefly talked about the mast and wartime Gee Chain System navigation set-up circa 1942 at the “Technical” site at the top of the hill. It closed down after 28 years, in 1971. Close by is the underground bunker of the Royal Observer Corps that worked until the end of the Cold War. It appears that this was set up in the 1950s and closed in 1991. Our next target was Lowery Tor, looking down to Burrator and Lowery barn, followed by the Medieval longhouse under the summit of Peek Hill. Next, with views of Leather Tor, was the Bronze Age reave and enclosure en route to Sharpitor, passing a DPA boundary stone along the way. The DPA are the owners of Sharpitor. On the tor, we saw the possibly unfinished Sharpitor cross (or is it?!) and the unfinished trough. Then it was a simple trek back to the car park. Those who partook of the Après Walk feature of these walks then gathered at the Burrator Inn. D365-P6
Mon 25th September 2017 – Grenofen Bridge – River Walkham, West Down Mine and associated features, West Down
Nioneteen of us did this walk down the picturesque River Walkham with its elvan dikes producing “white water” here and there, visiting the elvan quarry with its sett makers’ bankers, seeing the leat that runs down most of the valley to mine workings, to both streamworks and mining remains, passing the West Down copper mine chimney and other mining (smelting) ruins further down the valley including the kiln, the “Walkham Waterfall”, Buckator, including two small tors of country rock (slate) and returned via West Down. D365-(non-existent P1)
Fri 25th August 2017 – Norsworthy Bridge – out Cuckoo Rock way
This walk started from Norsworthy Bridge car park with 28 of us present. We saw the preserved barn at Middleworth Farm, with a view to Middleworth Tor, and discussed the old arrangement of the longhouses and the presence of a horse-wheel. Then on to the ruins of East Deancombe and West Deancombe farms. From there, we proceeded down to Narrator Brook, and up the steep path to a coffee break. Next, we saw the Bronze Age Outhome cist, an old mine shaft and then had a pleasant passage through Roughtor Plantation to see some of the recently found tors following forestry operation: East Rough Tor, the original Rough Tor and Middle Rough Tor. These are all in a small area. Then it was mostly downhill to the car park. I forgot to take a group photograph! D365-Q6 & Q7
Tues. 25th July 2017 – The Staple Tors – or Steeple Tors as they were known locally
Twenty-five of us gathered at the Ress Jeffreys car park, aided by the Cross of St. George, on a warm, sunny day. Before setting off, the Tale of Two Leats was told, with reference to the opening of Tor Quarry in 1876. We then walked to Little Steeple Tor with its rock pan and on to Middle Steeple Tor, avoiding the bounteous clitter streams coming down the slope. Middle Staple Tor has the notch where the midsummer sun sets when viewed from near the menhir and stone circle at Merrivale. Next along the way were the majestic rock steeples of Great Steeple Tor. En route to Roos Tor, we saw one of the PW (Peter Tavy / Whitchurch) boundary stones, one of the stonemasons’ marks and some of the 14 “B” pillars – an early action by the Duke of Bedford to preserve the Dartmoor scenery as the stonemasons attacked the tors for granite. On returning near the car park, we diverted to see some sett makers’ bankers, where men toiled in the making of granite setts that were used in the cobbled streets of Plymouth and Tavistock. We will also mentioned the Quarrymen’s Path and the founding of Tor Quarry again, that became Merrivale Quarry. It was to the quarry that sett-making transferred once it was open. Fourteen of us had a very convivial lunch afterwards at The Plume of Feathers. D365-L5 & M5
Sun. 25th June 2017 – Roborough Rock – the dry Devonport and Plymouth (Drake’s) leats
It was a fairly grey morning to start with pm Sunday 25th June when thirteen of us gathered by Roborough Rock. Luckily, it cleared away and we even had some sun towards the end of the walk. We saw a bit of RAF Harrowbeer WW2 aerodrome, parking in one of the fighter dispersal bays. I pointed out Knightstone, the original Watch Office (or “control tower”) until a proper one was built in 1941. Roborough Rock and old names for it were enumerated, then the base of an Allan Williams gun turret was seen. A Jubilee drinking fountain and the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee monument were seen before crossing the toad. Across the road, the bumpy ground covered in trees was explained to be part of the workings of the South Roborough Down Mine (similar in appearance to that previously seen at North Roborough Down Mine, where we followed the gert. There were several views Devonport Leat (inaugurated in 1801), Drake’s Plymouth Leat (Inaugurated in 1591 – as well as seeing the pipe connection between the two leats. The granite setts of Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt’s horse-drawn tramway, constituting the Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway (opened 1823) were seen, along with a rare piece of surviving iron rail. Then, a view to Sheepstor, kissing gates, Elford Town Farm, Yeoland Consols Mine, explanation about the elusive tor of hub Tor and Milepost 13 on the P&D Railway. As luck would have it, I saw the owner of Chubb Tor later on the walk; we had a few words and shook hands, with knowing smiles! D365- (non-existent R3)
Thu. 25th May 2017 – Sharpitor, for Leedon Tor & Ingra Tor
On a beautiful, clear blue sky, sunny day, we looked first at the Walkhampton Common Reave from near the car park, running up to near the summit of Sharpitor – one of the DPA-owned land-holdings on Dartmoor. The reave ends near Princetown and is one of the Dartmoor reaves that “separates” river valleys, in this case the Rivers Meavy and Walkham. These long reaves are marked on Ordnance Survey maps as “Boundary Work.” We then visited three small Bronze Age hut circles, a large hut inside a circular enclosure and another large hut circle nearby before making our way through the rocks to see the reave close-up. From there we walked to Leather Tor, crossed the Great Western Reave that runs for about six miles from near Sharpitor to White Tor, near Peter Tavy. This reave is regarded as a “territorial” reave. On the way to Ingra Tor cist we stopped for the national one-minute silence to contemplate recent events in Manchester. Photos were taken to visualise the lining of granite slabs inside the cist. After a short coffee break on the slopes of Ingra Tor, from where we looked down into the quarry to see the two crane bases, we had a look inside the quarry. After discussion about the Princetown Railway, as we were on the old track bed, we talked about Ingra Tor Halt and the famous notice about snakes was read out. From there, we looked under the railway inside the cattle “creep” that permitted livestock to cross the railway, where various holes were seen in granite setts that were re-used from the original horse-drawn tramway. These were to anchor the fishplates that held the original iron rails. Then it was a walk along the railway to above Routrundle where the two large Bronze Age circular pounds were discussed, incorporated into the field system of Routrundle and Babyland medieval farms. On the last leg of the walk, we looked back and had a clear view of the northern pound at Routrundle and also saw one of the old benchmarks from when Britain was first surveyed in the Principal Triangulation of Britain for modern mapping, carried out between 1791-1853. D365-O5, O6 & P6
Tues. 25th April 2017 – Burrator and Devonport Leat
This walk started at the Burrator Quarry car park with a look at the SSSI – Site of Special Scientific Interest rock face, trying to ‘spot’ the pink granite intrusion (270 million years ago) into the 380-million-year-old Devonian “hornfelsed” (changed by great heat) Devonian rocks. We then proceeded along the old Princetown Railway track with views over the dam and reservoir, via Burrator & Sheepstor Halt station, with its “kissing” gates. Passing various memorial benches, we reached the end of the running Devonport Leat, where we had a special “treat” because someone was working inside the building I have always known mistakenly as “the pump house”. This is in fact a water quality monitoring station with various instruments and a leaf-removing device We had a brief lecture about it worked and were allowed a look inside! From there, we followed the leat for some distance, passing Lowery Sluice, until we reached Lowery Tank. There are quite a few locations in the area using the name “Lowery”, derived from Low or Lower Worthig (Saxon for “settlement”. This relates to Norsworthy (north settlement), Essworthy (now under the reservoir, east settlement), Middleworth or Middleworthi (middle settlement) etc. We then visited Lower Lowery to see the restored barn and have a coffee break. Then it was down to the lakeside. Following the lakeside path, we visited the Burrator Discovery Centre for a short talk by Emily Cannon, the South West Lakes Trust Learning and Community Officer, before passing the waterfall (deriving from the leat) and Click Tor before returning to the car park again. It was a smaller group on this occasion due to various commitments and we had a very friendly outing. D365-Q5 & Q6
Sat. 25th March 2017 – Roborough Down
From a car park among the old road network in the middle of the old WW2 RAF Harrowbeer, we set off to the site of North Roborough Down Tin Mine, descending into the gert and following it down to the Drake’s Trail (Sustrans National Route 27) cycle track. We continued down the gert but not quite far enough to see the iron fence panel embedded in the centre of a 70-year old tree. We4 followed the track to the old railway station at Horrabridge and then climbed gently onto the down. We had an easy long leg across the down, enjoying the vista of tors: Cox Tor, GreatStaple Tor, Pew Tor, Great Mis Tor, Little Mis Tor, King’s Tor, Swelltor Quarry, North Hessary Tor, the trees at Princetown, Ingra Tor, South Hessary Tor, the DPA’s own Sharpitor and Peek Hill. Finally, we saw artefacts of WW2 RAF Harrowbeer: the “duck pond” and base of the small arms ammunition store, the bomb ramps and their trammel rings, and other signs of the WW2 aerodrome. These included pill boxes, a covered rifle defence trench, and the bases of the control tower, the signals square and the compass platform. RAF Harrowbeer both protected Plymouth and later provided cover for wartime operations over the English Channel and across to Brittany. D365-Q3
Sat. 25th February 2017 – Merrivale Antiquities.
Twenty-eight of us started with some hut circles and an abandoned crazing millstone. Then we visited the double stone rows where alignments of stones were pointed out that forecast the midwinter and midsummer solstices as well as the equinoxes – all important to the Bronze Age farmers. The stone circle and menhir were visited and the tinners ‘ scarring of the landscape at Long Ash Pits, where extensive “tin streaming” had been carried out. The days of the old TA (Tavistock to Ashburton) Packhorse Track were recalled, as we listened on the wind to hear ghostly sounds of a pony train passing! That pony whinnied at just the right moment! Finally, the story of Foggintor School (at Four Winds) and it’s predecessor at the Mission Hall were described. D365-M5 & M6
Weds. 25th January 2017 – Crazy Well Pool. The group met at Norsworthy ridge and, after a briefing, set off up the track to Norsworthy Farm (an old medieval longhouse complex). In the track, we saw the “drill stone” looking a bit like a gorgonzola cheese, covered in practice drill holes – presumably by a blacksmith who sharpened the miners’ drills (from Bal Mine). We examined the ruined Norsworthy stamping mill site, Leathertor Bridge and the Keaglesborough mine area with its large gert and wheelpits. From there, we proceeded up Raddick Lane to Crazy Well Pool. Then, back to the abandoned mill stone and the ruins of Roundy Farm. The track was then followed down past the broken double mortar stone and the “feather and tares” stone where someone abandoned a stone cutting enterprise, back to the car park. D365-P6, P7 & Q6