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This walk: 2018-3-25. Four Winds, Great Mis Tor, Little Mis Tor, Little Mis Tor Cross, prison land corner, DCP - Directors of Convict Prisons stone, Forest of Dartmoor boundary stone, Mis Tor Pan, Range huts, Mrs. Bray. Sugar Lump Pile, WW2 slit trenches(?), hut circles, Over Tor Gert, rabbit buries, Church Rock, Over Tor, "Mrs Bray's Washhand Basin", round house hut circles, 1802 house/garden ruins, 1972 DOE Ancient Monument concrete marker. 

Walk details below - Information about the route etc.

Previous walks in this area:   14th  January 2009 17th September 2009 19th September 2009 2nd December 2011
  20th September 2012, 15th April 2015 6th June 2015 12th August 2015
     
Reconnaissance walks: Recce 1 - 6th March 2018 Recce 2 - 13th March 2018 Recce-3 (22nd March)  

 

Google Satellite map + GPS track of the walk 

 

Further reading
Bray Mrs (1879), The Borders of the Tamar and Tavy, 2nd edn, Vols 1 & 2, Kent & Co, Paternoster Row, London.

Notes: Anna Eliza Bray (or Mrs A. Eliza Bray) lived 1790-1883. Mr Bray wrote to her with "My Dearest Eliza" (Vol. 1, p.313). This book, first published in 1836 as three volumes, entitled: A description of the part of Devonshire bordering on the Tamar and the Tavy, was condensed by her into two volumes for the 2nd edition, in 1879. It was compiled using letters she wrote to the Lakes poet, Robert Southey (1774-1843); where each letter forms a chapter, with 38 in total. The book uses material from her husband, Mr. Bray's Journals -  Reverend Edward Atkyns Bray, Vicar of Tavistock (1778-1857). The letters are dated 1832 to 1835 (Vol. 2, p.374) but sometimes the Journal material is from thirty years earlier e.g. September 1802 (Vol.1, p.209). What is regarded today as Bronze Age remains is attributed in the book largely to the Druids.

 

 

Great Mis Tor, SX 563 769, elevation 538 metres (1765 feet) with Little Mis Tor at right (elevation 480 metres; 1574 feet), seen from near Four Winds car park; the track leads up to the right of Little Mis Tor. The trace of snow is lying in the lee of the newtake wall.

 

Similar view to previous photograph; the various piles of the tor are clearly seen.

 

Little Mis Tor (right) and Little Little Mis Tor (left) - that's what I tell them!

 

Little Mis Tor, also known as Wain Tor, SX 5639 7630, elevation 485 metres (1591 feet). The cross depicted below is on the face under the overhang on the right .....

 

Little Mis Tor Cross ...... a memorial to Chris Swanson, a Dartmoor guide, Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme assessor, keen hill walker and a shipwright and rigger in Devonport Dockyard. He died following a fall from a ship's mast while at work.  His ashes were to be scattered at his favourite tor, Great Mis, but on the day, the weather was so bad that the party, which included a vicar, had to stop and shelter in the lee of Little Mis Tor.  It was here that the ashes were scattered and a slate plaque was fixed later to the tor by four deep-set bolts.  The plaque disappeared after a few weeks, discovered by friends who came to lay flowers in the crevice above the plaque.  The four bolt holes are still visible and sometime later, the rock face was inscribed.  Source: Dartmoor News, Issue 124 Jan/Feb 2012, page 6.

TO
CHRIS SWANSON
1980
ALWAYS HERE

 

A black and white image, processed in an attempt to show the inscription more clearly.   

A Google search result - The Guardian from London, on November 27, 1980 · 17 - this is page 17 - click HERE.
27 Nov 1980 - It was stolen in an act of arduous and unusual sabotage from the boulders of Little Mis Tor, Dartmoor, this summer. The slate was bolted to the rocks in memory of Chris Swanson, a Dartmoor guide, who died in an accident at his work as a shipwright and rigger on a vessel's mast at Devonport dockyard.

 

Little Mis Tor from uphill, King's Tor is seen just to the left of the tor.

 


The following 8 photographs are from reconnaissance walks and were not seen on the walk, to reduce time ..... actually, some walkers with more energy were sent this way .....

 

Photograph at SX 56562 76413, at the corner of the prison land boundary which is marked by the hard-to-see square concrete marker stone to the left of the fence corner; also seen are two firing range warning posts ..... vertical lines can be seen on the ground on the far slope that are to do with the old peat tyes when peat was cut for the naphtha factory that was on the site of the present day prison .....   (this is Holming Beam, darker area, digitally enhanced, see two photographs following) .....

 

Zoomed view from on Recce-3 showing remnants of snow highlighting the old peat tyes more clearly .....

 

As previous photograph.

 

The Directors of Convict Prisons prison boundary stone at SX 56574 76412 - the inscribed DCP is hard to read on this stone because of lichen growth and weathering. Originally, the prison had 390 acres granted but this was extended by 1,000 acres in 1867 when the whole area was marked by these boundary stones. The Directors of Convict Prisons was a body founded in 1850 following the ending of transportation from 1840 and the phasing out of prison hulks in Plymouth, Portsmouth and other places.

 

Another DCP stone at SX 56937 75803, from Recce 2 - 13th March 2018.

 

Firing Range warning sign, Great Mis Tor behind.

 

This is taken to show the footpath marked on the map from the prison corner to the tor - it is there on the ground but it is not easy to see sometimes!

 

Approaching Great Mis.


Back to the walk ..... 

 

Approaching Great Mis Tor (from the south). The lone pillar is an ancient Forest of Dartmoor boundary marker, presumably erected some time after the 1240 Perambulation ordered by King Henry III to determine the boundary of land he had granted to his brother, Richard of Cornwall, in 1239.  Legendary Dartmoor - Perambulations gives an overview of the subject; it is described in detail in Samuel Rowe (1985). A Perambulation Of Dartmoor: A Facsimile Of The 1896 Edition Including Fold-Out Maps (3 ed.), : Devon Books, Exeter, Devon., pages 82-230 .....

 

Close-up of the Forest marker: the route of the first Perambulation in 1240 is described in the original Latin .....

Samuel Rowe  (1985). A Perambulation Of Dartmoor: A Facsimile Of The 1896 Edition Including Fold-Out Maps (3 ed.), Devon Books, Exeter, Devon, pages 289-290.

..... Elysburghe et sic linealiter usque crucem Sywardi et inde usque ad Ysfothe et sic per aliam Ysfother et inde usque per mediam Mystor [Mistmore] usque ad Mewyburghe .....

..... Elysburghe  (=Eyleborough) and so from thence linearly to Syward's Cross and then to Hisworthy (=South Hesaary) and then to another Hisworthy (=North Hessary) and on to the middle of Mistor [Mistor moor] then to  (=White Barrow) .....

A second Perambulation was ordered in 1609 to enquire into the boundaries and other matters relating to the "the boundes and limitts of the Forrest of Dartmoore" (pages 312-316) . This from a copy of the presentment document certified by the Keeper of the Records at the Duchy Office. This included the wording .....

"..... Hisworthie and so from thence linyallie to another Hisworthie and so from thence linyallie through the midst of Mistorre moore to a rock called Mistorpann ..... "

A third Perambulation was ordered in 1786 to report on the metes and bounds of the Manor of Lydford and the Forest of Dartmoor. It was ordered "at a Court of Survey holden at Lidford Castle ....." Besides the bounds, they report on 13 other items about practices etc. on Dartmoor. (pages 317-320).

Link: Forest of Dartmoor - Wikipedia.

 

Red flag flying to warn of military firing on the Merrivale range during Recce-3 (22nd March).

 

Looking south from the boundary stone with the dark shape of Little Mis Tor in the centre, King's Tor to its right and the tv mast on North Hessary Tor on the skyline to its left.

 

Montage of the first pile encountered on approaching the tor; the larger central pile with the military flagpole and the rock pan are out of site behind this pile.  Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

Zoomed view to the south, with Lucky Farm and its trees (near Rundlestone) to the left, Hollow Tor is on the far slope left of centre, approx. halfway from the left and above centre is the outline of the Pump House on the roadside, to the right is Little Mis Tor and beyond that, a little to the right, are the fir trees at Red Cottages, with Yellowmead beyond.  The Forest marker stone is in the left foreground.

 

Some of the DPA walking group having coffee on the main rock pile of Greart Mis Tor - Mistor Pan being to the right in the photograph .....

 

Approaching the main pile of Great Mis Tor ..... Mistor Pan is the high rock towards the right end .....

 

Coffee time ..... 

 

Coffee time .....  

 

Coffee time ..... 

Coffee time ..... 

 

Dartmoor CAM movie TIPS .....

  • once viewing, make movie viewer "Full Screen"

  • perhaps click the loop or "continuous play" icon (if there is one)

  • press F11 to make more "Full Screen", remembering to press it again to regain Normal Screen.

A silent movie showing some of the group of 38 walkers during the coffee break on top of Great Mis Tor.

 

Click the photo to download

File size: 15 MB.
Length 28 secs

 

 

Now on top of the pile, looking north at Mistor Pan, the high rock with the jagged outline where the pan edge has been broken .....

 

Zoomed view .....

 

Looking over Mistor Pan - with some bravery on the day .....

 

A fuller view, with the old drainage channel at the left and the broken edge at the right - in the drawing below by Revd. Bray, made in 1802, the pan was intact.

 

A page from Mrs. Bray's book, 1879 edition, Vol. 2.

Zoomed view northwards from Great Mis Tor, towards the rocks of Fur Tor (21° Magnetic, 6.55 km / 4.05 miles distant).

 

Zoomed view looking east to the Beardown Tors, possibly Lydford Tor (left-most) with the wall behind it. 


A little to the north of the tor lies the Range Clearance Officer's hut and a stable for a pony, we didn't get this far on the walk due to the passage of time - it was 11.30 am when we left the tor, already 1¾ hrs into the 2-hour walk .....

 

Range Clearing Officer's hut, SX 56299 77110, and it's view over Merrivale Firing Range with a second hut nearby as a stable for his/her pony .....

 

Pony stable.

 

View of the largest western pile, Sugar Lump Pile because .....

 

..... it is reminscent of stacked sugar lumps, SX 56150 76972.

 

Not sure what to say here.


Back to the walk on the day .....

 

Highly zoomed view from the slope below Great Mis Tor to the south-west, showing Vixen Tor, towards the right edge, and the prominent Pew Tor in the cloud shadow; in front of it, in the sunlight, is Heckwood Tor.

 

 

View towards King's Tor with the trees of Four Winds car park visible towards the left, halfway down; runnig across the photograph is Over Tor Gert which is visited below - between here and there, there are a number of hut circles and possible WW2 artefacts.

The group below Great Mis Tor - there were 38 of us walking!

WW2 artefacts - Heritage Gateway Devon & Dartmoor HER - MDV55591 - Gun emplacement. (my GPS at SX 56333 76151), whether this was for a field gun or a mortar is not clear. the square pits are said to be ammunition pits. There a several pits like the one nearest the camera to be seen around some of the old hut circles between here and the gert .....  Over Tor Gert in the background .....

See: 60-mm Mortar Emplacements from the Corps of Engineers’ field manual FM 5-15: Field Fortifications, U.S. War Department, February 1944 - includes "Foxholes for members of the mortar squad not required at the gun are prepared not far from the emplacement. Additional ammunition is placed in nearby shelters."

 

WW2 slit trenches, at SX 56317 76058.

 

Hut circle 1, SX 56237 75924, with (left to right) Middle, Great Staple and Roos Tors on the skyline ..... also Shillapark farm in the centre area .....

 

Hut circle 2, SX 56203 75872, with Little Mis Tor behind (centre skyline) .....

 

Hut circle 3, SX 56144 75805, with King's Tor behind .....

 

Hut circle 4, SX 56081 75610, with Over Tor Gert and the top of King's Tor behind .....

 

Looking downhill inside Over Tor Gert, with Middle and Great Staple (Steeple) Tors on the skyline ..... some remnants of snow still here ..... there is also water running in Over Tor Brook ..... the valley below is that of the River Walkham - the valley and its tributaries have been well-worked for tin. The amount of tin necessitated the building of three blowing houses (see 20th Sept. 2012 walk).

 

Similar view during Recce-3 (22nd March) after the second snow event ..... this is the favoured entry down into the gert - on this occasion the snow was deep enough to abandon the attempt and head straight back to the car park. .

 

Looking east, up the gert, showing disturbed ground and Little Mis Tor on the skyline .....

 

Typical remains of tinners' stream working where water is directed over a "tie" to remove overburden, this is down by the newtakw wall that is seen towards the top left of the photograph. The water came from tinners' reservoirs at SX 55985 75585 (not very obvious) and SX 56335 75455 (more easily seen, to the right of the track going to Great Mis Tor).  The water was led by leats, remains of which can still be seen. This work was probably done before 1,700 AD.

See Tin on Dartmoor (notes) - between 1100 and 1650 AD some 26,000 tons of smelted, white tin were extracted from Dartmoor - the work involved a tremendous amount of ground disturbance, especially in the river valleys. The most productive year was 1524 AD, when 252 tons were produced.

 

A rabbit bury - an elongate mound of earth with a surrounding drainage ditch, here seen end-on, SX 55915 75452, one of several - these (small buries) were probably sporting buries for shooting and coursing although the area is marked on the map as Merrivale Warren and there was a lot of tinning activity in this (Walkham) valley: three blowing houses were visited on 20 Sept. 2012.

 

Church Rock, SX 55875 75396, among the scattered rocks of Over Tor .....

 

Church Rock, looking north.

 

The tall rock in the centre of the photograph (not the tallest rock, to the right) shows a pan ..... behind it is Great Staple Tor .....

 

Looking down on the water-filled rock pan, SX 55782 75259, "Mrs Bray's Washhand Basin" - as designated by Rev. Bray in his Journals (Mrs. Bray,Vol.1, p.338) .....

 

 

 

 

Zoomed view from a vantage point .....

 

Mrs Bray's Washhand Basin rocks again, with remnants of March snow.

 

Rabbit "bury" among the scattered rocks of Over Tor, SX 55727 75198, below Mrs Bray's Washhand Basin ..... the central area of this photograph is shown following .....

The central part of this image features a long embankment cutting through the workings of the Wheal Fortune tin mine. This is the only part of the Merrivale Light Railway that was built. The plan was put forward by Messrs. Duke & Co. in 1908, with the aim of connecting Tor (i.e. Merrivale) Quarry via bridges across the River Walkham, the B3357 road and Pila Brook, cutting around Long Ash Hill, passing very close to the Merrivale Menhir and embanking through Long Ash Newtake to cut through the old loop of the Tyrwhitt Tramway to join the Princetown Railway. John Robins (1988), Rambling On, John Pegg Publishing, Pembury, Kent, page 69, mentions Robert Burnard (DPA Hon Secretary) opposing the scheme although the reason for its ultimate failure is not given. The quarry owners were confident of success because they started the embankment and bought "Ada", a small railway engine. For some reason the scheme was never put before the Board of Trade for final approval. The embankment has been called "Duke's Folly".

 

Another view, with the Washhand Basin rocks behind. Rather strangely, these structures were interpretted by the Brays as barrows or tumuli for burying the dead from the times of the Druids (Mrs Bray, Vol. 1, p.230) but they were later informed that they were rabbit warrens (p.342).

 

Bronze Age hut \t SX 55659 75071, near the road, looking towards Merrivale .....

 

Hut circle beside the road that is partly incorporated into the garden wall ..... 

 

This is looking north-west at the two-roomed "cot" (=cottage) shown in Enclosure D in the figure below, the "garden" is on the left and runs out almost to the main road ..... the nearest white building in the distance is the Dartmoor Inn at Merrivale .....

 

Part of the the two-roomed "cot" (=cottage) shown in Enclosure D in the figure below - this is looking south-east, uphill, standing inside the longer of the rooms ..... the "garden" is to the right with the top wall visible, running right, out of the photograph .....

 

The dark-shadow casting rock (approx. centre) is the near corner of the open-ended "garden" of the two-roomed "cot" shown in Enclosure D in the figure below; this is a few feet from the road ..... this structure has been suggested as the warren house associated with Merrival Warren with its quite large number of rabbit "buries" but this may be doubtful. Rev. Bray passed this way in 1802 (Mrs. Bray, Vol. 1, p.209) and encountered a man building a cot, with whom he discussed his work, his source of stones and suggested he keep the antiquities intact as a source of income from guiiding visitors around them.  The buries are considerably older than the cot. The warren is described as being a sporting warren but in truth, little fact seems known about it. It is recorded that Trowlesworthy rabbit warren was set up in 1272 (DNPA The History of Dartmoor Factsheet).

Historic England - Pastscape  MONUMENT NO. 1355487 - building by the road

 

"The remains of a post medieval farmstead south of Merrivale Warren. The farmstead comprises the ruins of a two-roomed building, together with two enclosures, one contemporary and the other prehistoric. The drystone walls of the building measure 1 metre thick and stand up to 0.9 metres high. An open-ended rectangular enclosure attached to the southern side of the building may have served as a small garden. The house also adjoins a prehistoric enclosure, which may have been reused as a field. The farmstead dates to the first half of the 19th century."

 


Image © J Butler 1991. Reproduced by kind permission (ref. 29 Sept. 2012)

Jeremy Butler (1991), Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, Vol. 2 - The North, Map 30. 9: Merrivale Bridge East (fig.23.5),  pages 72-73.

 

 

Department of the Environment, Ancient Monuments concrete marker post from 1972, at SX 55769 74918, on the roadside verge between the end of the walk and the Four Winds car park - Google Street View. The markers were erected to protect the monuments - there are several markers in the area: others are on the other side of the road, closer to Merrivale: another Google Street View.  These are mentioned in Dave Brewer (2002), Dartmoor Boundary Markers, Halsgrove, pp.256-256.

A lot of triple-parking at Four Winds!

Walk details

MAP: Red = GPS satellite track of the walk.

 © Crown copyright 2016  Ordnance Survey Licence number 100047373
Also, Copyright © 2005, Memory-Map Europe, with permission.

This walk was reached  from the Four Winds car park on the Two Bridges - Merrivale road, indicated by the yellow cross and the  P  symbol on the map.

 

Statistics
Distance - 5.49 km / 3.41 miles 


 

All photographs on this web site are copyright © Keith Ryan.
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