Dartmoor, Devon, England Week 39 21st - 22nd January 2012
and this was just the lunch stop ...

We approached Dartmoor from the south east. There are a couple of bridges with a width restriction. 2.3m, but since we are 2.1m (without the mirrors) that's ok! It can't be harder than putting it in a container.

The Plume of Feathers pub at Princetown (center of Dartmoor).

We are camped behind it for a couple of nights.

Its clad in tiles rather than brick.

South Hessary Tor.

Just a couple of km walk from the pub.

Its as bleak as it looks. Windswept and soggy.

Why are we here?

A close up of the tor.

Still wondering why we are here. We turned round and headed back to the safety of Tardis, for tea.

Princetown has little to offer beyond a few pubs, a few moors, and a prison.

The Victorian edifice is Dartmoor Prison.

We gave the prison museum a miss and headed for the moors.

The sun appeared briefly as we headed from Two Bridges towards Higher White Tor and Wistman's Wood.

This isn't Crockern Tor. That's a little to the south east.

If it was it would have been the meeting place of the Stannery Parliament, though that last met in 1753.

Crockern Tor is about the center of Dartmoor, the home of the ancient pagan god Old Crockern.

I think Stannus is the latin for Tin (element Sn in the periodic table). The Stannery Parliament met to consider the issues of Cornish Tin Mines. It was the tinners' governing body.

Dartmoor was considered a stannary area and was thus a self governing state within a state. The tinners had an untouchable sort of status. Tin mining here goes back to about 1198 AD.

The photo is of Littaford Tors, a couple of km to the north west.

Longaford Tor is just as windswept.

We are following a ridge northwards. Nothing steep, just gentle slopes and easy walking.

We must remember for our future enjoyment that a wind which is strong in the valley floor is very strong on the ridge tops. At times Ali looked like she would be blown away!

Air temperature was below 10 degrees C. With a bit of wind chill to make it seem much colder.

Boggy underfoot - my new boots are wonderfully waterproof. Sadly, Ali's old boots, which used to be waterproof until this walk aren't any more.


Looking back at Littaford Tor.

There were fleeting patches of sunlight among the thick clouds.

Looking south from the top of Higher White Tor.

The tors are granite (though of course everyone knew that by now!).

We left the ridge and headed down to the floor of the valley, the West Dart.

Looking back at Higher White Tor.

And looking down the West Dart valley.

The darker patch in the distance on the left side is Wistman's Wood.

On the right is a leat. That more or less horizontal line running along the hillside is a man made water course. The sort of thing that miners have made in other parts of the world. We didn't find the end of it. Its the Devonport Leat, built around 1790 to provide water to the expanding dockyards at Devonport. It now feeds Burrator reservoir.

Further to the right, off the picture, on the ridge top, is the beginning of an army exercise area.

There were no red flags flying today. They probably knew better than to venture out.

Wistman's Wood. The name is probably from the local word "wisht" for eerie, uncanny, haunted, or pixie-led.

A small wood in very rocky broken ground.

Mostly stunted oak trees. We believe coppiced, but we forgot to look!

Lots of moss and lichen.

And the sheep like the shelter (very sensible of them, we agree!)


The fuzzy white bits on the photo are rain drops on the lens.

Fortunately it was just a few drops then stopped - blown away by the wind?

The forest is centuries old, and very slow growing (we're surprised anything grows here!).

This is one for the geomorphology buffs, where, just in the patch the wood occupies, the granite has eroded into smallish boulders which surely protected the young trees, which in turn protect the mosses and lichens.

As we drove back to Princetown from Two Bridges we finally saw one of the old style, medieval bridges.

The spans are made of single stones.

As well as sheep there are horses on Dartmoor.

This one has been disturbed by other hikers (there are other people as silly as us who ventured forth in the wind).

We were searching for bronze age thingos.

We are south east of North Hessary Tor (the one with the tv transmitter on), partway along the B3357.

This stone row is one side of an "avenue". A couple of hundred metres long.

And both sides.
In the middle is another leat. Of later vintage than the stone rows.

Its the Grimstone and Sortridge Leat. Maybe 500 years old it supplies a few farms with water and used to run a couple of water wheels.

If you are wondering, leat is from the old english word watergelaet, meaning water channel. Now we are wiser!

Nearby a stone circle.

But not a burial place as we have become used to. None of the ornamentation around the edges, but apart from that we were told about them at the national park info center in Princetown.

The stones are the base of a round building. Wood and straw formed the roof. A bit like a permanent gher that fell down. Though it would have had a steeper roof than a gher as the climate was probably less dry than Mongolia. 

We can't imagine why people would want to live up here. But then the climate was hopefully kinder a few millenia ago.

This formation partway along one side of the avenue.

We don't know what it is, just that its different.

And a little way away a burial. The covering rock has split and part fallen in.
Not alone still.

The two edges of the avenue.

We'll leave Dartmoor tomorrow for a hopefully more hospitable place.

Even the pub campsite was inhospitable, the showers were cold! We'd hate to think what its like in the prison if that's what the tourists get.

Dartmoor to Clevedon, England Week 40 23rd - 29th January 2012

Bro Sat, 28 Jan 12 01:14:47 +1100
Bloody Hell - we've been somewhere in common at last! I stayed at The George in Stamford years ago whilst on a course of some sort.

Peter Sat, 28 Jan 12 20:10:32 +1100
Any cardboard replicas sighted Julian?

David Powell Mon, 30 Jan 12 20:46:56 +1100
Hi Julian and Ali, if I was you head back to a warmer part of the planet. Its getting colder here lol. Im pleased to see your on the move again, I hope all is going well for you both. Best wished from David.

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