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This walk: 2018-1-25. Norsworthy Bridge, Middleworth, Deancombe, Cuckoo Rock, Combshead Tor, Down Tor (Hingston Hill) stone row, circle & cist,  Down Tor, Little Down Tor, Snappers Tor, Middleworth and Little Middleworth Tors.

Walk details below- Information about the route etc.- Information about the route etc.

Previous walks in this area: 4th October 2007,   5th February 2009,   2nd September 2010 7th July 2011 22nd October 2014 and 25th August 2017.

Google Satellite map + GPS track of the walk 

Google Satellite maps and GPS tracks of reconnaissance walks: Recce 1 Recce 2 Recce 3, Recce 4 

 

Bal Mine car park near Norsworthy Bridge at 9.30 am on a very cold morning .....

 

South West Lakes Trust notice board just left of where the previous photograph was taken. Click the image to see a larger version.

 

Entrance to Middleworth Lane with the early morning sun low in the sky - note the 3-step stile in the wall on the right.  

 

First of three photographs ..... A short walk up the lane reveals a "bay" in the wall on the right, at SX 56948 69228 - this photograph is taken looking back towards the car park .....

 

Number 2 of 3 ..... also looking back towards the car park, with the "bay" on the left and a field gateway on the right .....

 

Number 3 of 3 ..... view from inside one the old field, looking at the "bay". Apparently, this was a manoeuvring place to enable a horse and cart to turn into the field from the narrow lane.  

 

Site of the Medieval settlement of Middleworthy, first documented in 1281, now known as Middleworth, where in medieval times there were longhouses running up and down the slope. Details can be found from thw walk on 25th August 2017 .....

 

Tor at SX 57110 69263 seen on the left from the place that the previous photograph was taken.  The naming of the local (minor) tors on Down Tor ridge is contentious. Variously known as Snappers Tor, Middleworth Tor (because it is in Middleworth farm fields), Little Middleworth Tor (because there is a larger tor also visible from Middleworth) or West Middleworth Tor (because it is west of the larger tor) .....

 

The same tor from a closer viewpoint ..... 

 

Looking at the tor from the "back" - there are rock basins on the upper surface.

 

Middleworth Tor at  SX 57333 69307, seen from near the previous tor. This is the larger tor visible from Middleworth, also known as Snappers Tor (!)

 

Zoomed view, as previous photograph, from a closer position. 

 

Frozen puddle in the lane ..... 

 

As previous photograph. 

 

View of Down Tor from Middleworth Lane. 

 

Approaching Deancombe, first documented in 1317, with West Deancombe on the left and East Deancombe beyond the dark shadow (on the left) of the strole up to the open moor. Details can be found from the walk on 25th August 2017.

 

Cuckoo Rock, seen just beyond Deancombe, with new fencing in the process of being erected. This section is already wired, with a gap behind the tree where two posts are close together. Further up the slope ot the left (not seen here), the fence is presently unwired. There is an area of bog and slippery rocks just beyond the wall in this photograph - the bog was particularly bad on one reconnaissance visit due to recent rain and the springs that cause the bog being very free-flowing. 

 

There is a path to the rock beyond the boggy section and after a short scramble through some rocks - although this is obliterated in summer by tall bracken. 

 

Cuckoo Rock, at  SX 58471 68720 .....

 

Another view ..... the story of Cuckoo Rock is that it was the place where the farmer at nearby Combshead Farm always heard the first cuckoo.  Another thought is that it is so-named because it looks a bit like a cuckoo's egg when seen from across the valley. On the walk, I mentioned that the farmer at Combshead was the last of the local farmers to die in the farm house. He was Bill (William) Pengelly.  He was running the farm in 1906 and was given notice to leave in the 1920s because of farm animal pollution to the Burrator / Plymouth water supply.  He refused to to leave and after removing the animnals, he was allowed to stay until he died in December 1931, aged 90.  Source: Paul Rendell (2007), Exploring Around Burrator - A Dartmoor Reservoir, The Dartmoor Company, Okehampton, pages 12-13 & 54.

A photoghraph of Combshead Farm taken in 1934 can be seen here, it is about 200 yards south-east of Cuckoo Rock.

 

View from behind the rock, showing Sheep's Tor and the flat (yellow) ground to the left where we saw the cist on 25th August 2017 ..... 

 

As previous photograph ..... 

 

View from a higher level approach to Cuckoo Rock - reached by turning left after Deancombe and climbing up through the old "ridge and furrow"  fields that were seen from across the valley on 25th August 2017 ..... 

 

Picnic place behind Cuckoo rock. 

 

Combshead Tor, SX 587 688, elevation 371 metres (1217 feet).

 

Down Tor stone row, also known as Hingston Hill stone row, and cairn (the cairn contains a ruined cist), described by Jeremy Butler, 1994, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities  Vol. 3 - The South-West, Map 47.. 12,13 Hingston Hill stone row and cairns (figs. 47.9, 47,9.1,,10), pages 71-74..

 


Image © J Butler 1994. Reproduced by kind permission (ref. 29 Sept. 2012)

 

Heritage Gateway Records for the Down Tor Stone Row: MDV3502

English Heritage, 2011, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV347072.
This monument includes a single stone alignment and a cairn situated on a saddle between the north-west flank of Eylesbarrow and Down Tor. The alignment is orientated from east-north-east to west-south-west, although it does not form a perfectly straight line, being bowed to the north to a maximum of 2.5 metres off alignment. The alignment is 316 metres long and contains at least 174 stones, with the tallest being present at either end. The standing stone at the western end of the alignment measures 2.8 metres high, whilst that at the eastern end is 1.6 metres high. The stones along the central length of the alignment vary in height between 1.0 metres and 0.2 metres high. The large stone denoting the western end of the alignment and an unknown number of others were re-erected by Baring-Gould and Burnard in 1890. The cairn with an encircling kerb, lies 4.0 metres west of the western end of the stone alignment. The mound measures 8.0 metres in diameter and 0.7 metres high and is surrounded by a kerb which includes 24 orthostats standing between 0.3 and 1.0 metres high, forming a ring with a diameter of 11.5 metres. A hollow in the centre of the mound suggests partial early excavation or robbing. Two tin prospecting pits lie immediately against the western edge of the kerb and form part of a wider group. The stone alignment is in direct line with another cairn at SX 5919 6944 which is the subject of a separate scheduling (SM 24122). (Scheduled 1956, amended 2000). Other details: SAM UID: 24084. Map object based on this source.
Copyright permission: Information from the Devon & Dartmoor Historic Environment Record

 

Links to Historic England and Heritage Gateway archaeological records

Historic England general description of the monument

 

Heritage Gateway - Devon & Dartmoor Historic Environment Records - archaeological details

 

 

Down Tor stone row and cairn circle ..... 

 

Down Tor stone row, showing more detail of the ruined cist in the centre of the ring of stones .....  note the impressive tinners' gert to the right, where the ground was truly dug over in the effort to extract tin, typical of many Dartmoor valleys .....

 

The walkers at the cairn circle and row .....

 

Down Tor stone row .....  

 

Solar alignments

The monument and nearby features show alignments with the sun at mid-summer and mid-winter solstices. The mid-summer sunrise aligns with the axis of the stone row and the large cairn beyond, at SX 5920 6945. When viewed from the centre of the circle (where there is a burial cist) it then sets over the smaller cairn at SX 58642 69315, north-west of the circle.  Mid-winter sunset occurs over the rocks of Hingston Tor at SX 58597 69185, south-west of the circle. It seems that a marker for mid-winter sunrise has not been noted.  There is an extensive wall in the form of a two-limbed arc about 100 metres to the west of the circle that extends for about 330 metres.  If markers were positioned along it at appropriate intervals then it would constitute a form of calendar, similar to that at Merrivale (see 25th February 2017).  Source: Jack Walker (2005), Dartmoor Sun, Halsgrove, Tiverton, Devon, pages 12-39 and 97-101.

The description from the  Devon & Dartmoor Historic Environment Record above describes the row as being "being bowed to the north to a maximum of 2.5 metres off alignment."  Considering that the monument appears to function as a solar solstice monument, it is possible that the curve in the alignment might relate to the arc followed by the sun as it rises, from first sight of its rim to the full disk above the horizon. Once the sun is fully risen, then the rest of the row may align at that moment. Apparently, the Stonehenge monument aligns with the fully risen sun, not the first sight of its rim (Walker, page 88).

 

Down Tor stone circle, looking west, towards Down Tor.

 

The mid-summer solstice sunset marker cairn .....

 



View along the row from beyond the last "tall" stone in the row in a "north-easterly" direction .....

 



Zoomed view showing the curve in the eastern end of the stone row .....also seen in line with the row is the large cairn that marks mid-summer sunrise and an enclosure at top left .....

 



The cairn to the north-east of the row (for marking mid-summer sunrise) and the blocking stone of the row ,,,,,&

 



Zoomed view of the terminal or "blocking" stone that is erected across the end of the row.

 

Down Tor, with Leather Tor immediately behind and to the right (the dark ridge), and Sharpitor further to the right. Peek Hill is left of centre, on the skyline. 

 

Down Tor, SX 579 694, elevation 366 metres (1200 feet). 



Bronze Age burial cist, at SX 58031 69287, on the flank of Down Tor .....

 

Large hut circle at SX 57988 69232 - there are actually two huts here, side by side .....

 

The two hut circles, with Burrator reservoir behind.  The above three photos are taken from a walk on 22nd October 2014.

 

What appears at first sight to be a possible longhouse on the slope of Down Tor, at SX 57825 69385 .....

 

Closer inspection reveals a row of tinners' trial pits.

 

Little Down Tor, SX 57643 69377, with Leather Tor behind.

 

Poised rock, SX 5755 6939, with its poised rock - which is not a logan stone ..... with Leather Tor behind, and Sharpitor beyond .....

 

Poised rock - little mentioned elsewhere!

 

A very obvious corn ditch - these originate from the time when Dartmoor was a royal hunting area and there was a need to keep the King’s deer out of the cultivated land. A stone revetted wall and external ditch faced onto the open moor which deterred deer and other animals from jumping over, whilst the sloping grassy bank on the inner face allowed those animals which had entered to exit again without difficulty. Source: http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/aboutus/news/au-geninterestnews/au_crosspr10

 

Another tor known as either Middleworth Tor (because it is quite large and overlooks Middleworth) or Snappers Tor, at SX 57340 69305. This is the tor that two field walls abut onto .....

There has been a suggestion that Snappers Tor was a nearby ruined tor - click for details

 

Closer view .....

 

This is the view from the side that overlooks Middleworth farm - it was seen early in the walk.

 

As captioned near the start of the walk: the tor variously known as Snappers Tor, Middleworth Tor (because it is in Middleworth farm fields), Little Middleworth Tor (because there is a larger tor also visiible from Middleworth) or West Middleworth Tor (because it is west of the larger tor) .....

 

As previous photograph .....

 

As previous photograph but looking down on the conserved barn at Middleworth .....

 

Zoomed view, this bears a date stone inscribed "1885" .....

 

Looking from this tor (Little Middleworth Tor) across to the larger Middleworth Tor above Middleworth (which is down to the right).

  

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 by driving from Yelverton to Dousland, turning right beside the Burrator Inn towards Meavy, and then left on passing the last house, over the cattle grid to the far end of the reservoir. Do not go over the dam. Two car parks are indicated by yellow crosses on the map.


Statistics

Distance - 5.89 km / 3.46 miles

 

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