This is another virtual walk that was cancelled due to the national virus lockdown. It was meant to start from the Haytor Upper Car Park that was meant to take place on Monday 25th May. The photographs below were taken on a reconnaissance walk on Friday 29th May after the lockdown was initially eased, when the weather was glorious! The walk proceeds up between the Haytor Rocks, turning right after the main rock pile and going down to the main quarry at Haytor. It then goes through the quarry and exits to bear right and proceed to Holwell Junction – this being the junction on the Templer granite tramway where a branch goes to the quarry while another proceeds towards the Holwell Tor quarry. The walk then proceeds to the end of this branch, passing an abandoned apple crusher and visiting a quarrymen’s shelter. From there, the walk returns part-way along the tramway and then branches up to Haytor Rocks again.


Haytor Rocks, a zoomed view seen from the car park – this is a cartographer’s corruption of the local name of High Tor, pronounced in the Dartmoor dialect as “Hey Tor“. These are granite intrusions that are seen from a long way off – even in The Channel –  and are hence, the “high tor”. With rock piles separated by an area of grass, it is also called an “avenue tor”, like Bellever (Bellaford) Tor, Hound Tor, Great Staple (or, originally, Steeple) Tor, Rippon Tor and Pew Tor. We walk up between the rocks and turn right to reach the quarry.


Looking back down on the upper car park at Haytor.


A view looking into Haytor main quarry from the perimeter fence ….. developed by the Templer family.

George Templer (1781–1843) was a landowner in Devon, England, and the builder of the Haytor Granite Tramway, which connected the quarries to the Stover Canal.  His father was the second James Templer (1748–1813). It may have been the winning of a contract to provide granite for John Rennie’s rebuilding of London Bridge that led Templer to develop the tramway: light grey “Devonshire Haytor” granite was specified, along with two Scottish granites, by the Act of Parliament that authorised the new London Bridge. Work on the new London Bridge began in 1824. The tramway was opened on 16 September 1820 with a great celebration at Haytor at which Templer gave a “short and energetic speech, which excited bursts of applause”. The tramway and quarries folded in 1858/1860 due to competition from Scotland and Cornwall and the high cost of transportation. Some stone was taken for special requirements: e.g. Exeter War Memorial, 1919.

James Templer (the “first”, 1722–1782) of Stover House – which he built between 1776 and 1780 using granite from the quarries at Haytor. He was a self-made magnate, returning from India aged 23 after making a fortune. He was a civil engineer who increased his fortune by building dockyards, including that at Plymouth.  

James Templer (the “second”, 1748–1813) of Stover House, Teigngrace, Devon, was a Devon landowner. He also built  Stover Canal – this was opened in 1792 to carry ball clay to Teignmouth docks for shipment to the potteries, where its quality of producing very white porcelain was sought after by e.g. Josiah Wedgewood. Ball clay was so-named because it was cut as 15-17 kg cubes but during transport the corners became rounded off, leaving round balls of clay.

Later history:  In January 1829 George overspent his resources and was forced to sell his entire estate, of Stover House, the Stover Canal and the Haytor Granite Tramway, to Edward St Maur, 11th Duke of Somerset, who was styled Lord Seymour (1775-1855).


The gate into the quarry ….


The central area of the quarry is flooded and has water lilies ….. and, reputedly, gold fish!


The White Water Lily, Nymphacea alba, an opening bud.


An iron ring is encountered when walking around the flooded area. A second ring will be seen below that is located beside the path across the lake in a “white” rock seen in the photograph above …..


Closer view, it is surmised that these rings were used to steady a crane in its lifting operations.


The iron ring seen above is located beside the water on a rock on the right. Behind it is the light-coloured track where the walk enters this area.  The remains of the winding gear of the crane are seen across the water approximately in the centre of the photograph …..


The old crane winding gear. This was a derrick type crane and its wooden jib is laying on the ground behind it.


The second iron ring …..


Both iron rings are visible in this photograph! The far one is on the “white” rock beside the water, in the mid-line of the photograph.


Two iron spikes of unknown function …..


The left spike is square section and the other is fluted.


Another view of the winding gear.


A view around the back of the quarry approaching Holwell Junction. This was the tramway to the quarry (to the right of the camera) but the granite “rails” have been removed near the quarry. The track joins the still-present tramway at the bottom of the track where the tramway is seen running across the photograph. The details of the tramway network are shown on the 1886 OS map but there are junctions on the ground (going nowhere) that are not shown on the old map, so it must have been more extensive before it was surveyed for the map: OS 25-inch sheet, (survey 1885) publ. 1886 – Haytor Rocks, Haytor Quarries and tramway details.


The Templer Haytor granite tramway: the gauge of the track was 4 ft 3 in (1,295 mm), with the “rails” being shaped granite “setts” – these are quarried granite blocks. The wagons had plain wheels without flanges.


Bendy granite rails.


At junctions the wheels were guided by ‘point tongues’, pivoted on the granite-block rails, this could be described as an early form of a railway “switchplate”. Authorities differ on whether the point tongues were oak or iron.


Holwell Junction.


Rubble Heap Quarry Junction where the tramway straight ahead bends around left to Rubble Heap Quarry (about 400 metres west of the main quarry) and the righthand branch goes to Holwell Quarry.


Broken apple (cider) mill base beside the tramway, SX 75514 77725.


Part of Holwell Quarry, SX 75165 77746. There are five separate quarries on Haytor Down: Haytor (Main) Quarry, Holwell Quarry, Rubble Heap Quarry, Harrow Barrow and Western Quarry.


Track continuing, with the quarrymen’s hut down to the right below the rocks …..


Quarrymen’s hut below Holwell Quarry, SX 75073 77784, near the end of the tramway, north of the track – possibly used when blasting took place.


Walking a short distance beyond the quarrymen’s hut the track has drops on each side into quarried areas.


Walking up past Rubble Heap Quarry (missed inadvertently because the main track was easier) towards Low Man – the smaller of the Haytor Rocks.


Approaching the main rock pile of Hay Tor …..


Final view of the main pile at Hay Tor.

This is an interesting walk with a lot to see more or less all the way around.

Satellite map + GPS track of the 15th May reconnaissance walk – just after lockdown was eased on 13th May.

More photographs on the Dartmoor CAM web site