This walk: 2021-9-25. Dr Blackall's Drive, Dr Thomas Blackwell, Corndon Tor, Sharp Tor, Bel Tor, Stumble/Stumley Corner, Miltor Lane, slotted gateposts, Mel (Mil) Tor, rock basins, Bench (Benjy) Tor, Dart Valley, Aish Tor, Pile of Stones (modern cairn), round house (hut circle). D365-N14, O14, O15.
Walk details below - Information about the route etc.
Reconnaissance walks: 7 Sep 2021, 11 Sep. 2021
Dr Thomas Blackwell MD FRCP (1814 - 4th May 1899, aged 85) trained at St George's Hospital, London, and had a practice in Mayfair.
He was the youngest son of Dr John Blackall (1771-1860), the sixth son of Rev. Theophilus Blackall, who was a Prebendary (Honorary Canon) of Exeter Cathedral. John Blackall was an eminent physician who trained at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and then returned to Exeter in 1797, settling in Totnes in 1801. When he died in 1860, Thomas, his only surviving son inherited his estate.
Thomas bought Spitchwick Manor - four miles north-west of Ashburton, in 1867. It seems that he never married but according to Censuses from 1861 onwards, there was always a Visitor, Julia Tindall, and her daughter Caroline. It was Julia who inherited his estate.
Sometime in the 1870/1880s, he had the "Drive" constructed for his pleasure and for visiting guests to enjoy carriage rides driving southwards to enjoy the magnificent views down the River Dart valley. However, Hemery (1987, p.588) reports that it was cut "a century or so ago" by Gerald Warren and his family for Dr Joseph Blackall, of Spitchwick Manor.
His grave in nearby Leusdon is visited at the bottom of this web page but not as part of this walk.
Wikipedia - Spitchwick
Wikipedia - John Blackall
Legendary Dartmoor - Dr Blackall's Drive
Dr Blackall's Drive, Dartmoor & Jane Austen...
Eric Hemery (1983), High Dartmoor, Robert Hale, London, page 587.
From the car park, looking down towards Miltor Lane, which starts on the corner down the slope, between the walls of the enclosures.
Corndon Tor, SX 6859 7414, elevation 434 metres (1423 feet) on Corndon Down, NNE of the car park.
Sharp Tor, SX 686 729, elevation 380 metres (1246 feet), almost due west of the car park, overview .....
Sharp Tor .....
Sharp Tor, highly zoomed view.
Bel Tor at SX 6968 7293, elevation 354 metres (1161 feet), on private land .....
Bel Tor, this has a logan stone, rock basins and a triangulation pillar - and a lot of gorse.
Mel Tor, at SX 693 725, elevation 346 m (1135 ft), seen from Stumble Corner (see below). There ponies below the tor (left side) that are seen later, below ..... .....
Wind-shaped hawthorn tree on Mel Tor, zoomed view.
Stumble Corner (Mike Brown) or Stumley Corner (Eric Hemery) where Dr Blackall's Drive enters Miltor Lane (at the right) .....
Eric Hemery (1983), High Dartmoor, Robert Hale, London, page 588.
Mike Brown (2001) Guide to Dartmoor, CD-ROM, Dartmoor Press, Grid Square 6947 7269.
A little way into Miltor Lane .....
Further on into the lane, on a bend, there are two field gates up on the left .....
There is a heavy rain run-off diversion on the corner, beyond which is a third gate .....
The gate has a massive hanger post on the right side and .....
A slotted gate post on the left side, this is beside Dr. Blackall's Drive (in Miltor Lane). As the slots are facing the camera and not the gateway, this indicates the gatepost has been turned around.
The "drive" towards the bottom of Miltor Lane.
Mel Tor, at SX 693 725, elevation 346 m (1135 ft)
Approaching Mel Tor ..... more correctly called Mil (Middle) Tor because it is said to be between Sharp Tor and Bel Tor, although more accurately, it is between Sharp Tor and Hockinston Tor. Somewhere in this area is an abandoned millstone: good luck on finding it - I looked for an hour, twice.
"Correctly called Mil Tor the middle mil tor on the valley side between Sharp Tor and Hockinston Tor. There is also an unfinished millstone at the foot of the outcrops on the northeast side below the drive." Mike Brown (2001) Guide to Dartmoor, CD-ROM, Dartmoor Press, Grid Square 693 725.
Ponies, taken into the sun .....
Rock basins on a high rock .....
Photograph from 5 September 2012 - when heights were not a problem!
Ponies, just "hanging out".
Looking back down where we came from - the track at top right leads back to the slotted gate post.
Yellow flowered gorse and bell heather on the flank of Mel Tor.
View down the "Double" Dart valley from Mel Tor - "Double" Dart because the East Dart and the West Dart join together upstream at Dartmeet.
Another gate, several yards from the track, at SX 69673 72383, with
two slotted gateposts ..... the slots are facing each other between the
posts, indicating that they are still in their original positions.
Tip: cut straight back to the track - it can be a long detour if you don't!
Closer view - the slots are on the sides of the posts that face each other, in their original positions i.e. the posts are not rotated. From this point, Higher Uppacott longhouse can be seen, built into the slope opposite, at 42°, 700 metres distant .....
Left gate post - exhibiting the simple "I" slot where the end of a timber would be inserted .....
Right gate post - exhibiting an inverted "L" slot, where the 2nd end of a timber would be slid in and then dropped. The slots usually come in 5's, this being the origin of the 5-barred gate. These were sometimes called slip gates (Wikipedia) or Stang Stoops, Yatsteads or Stang Pole Gateways, being a form of simple gate that once commonly controlled access to fields, lanes, etc. using removable cross-bars and two fixed posts, often of stone.
Uppacott as seen from beside the gate above, or some yards up the slope .....
Higher Uppacott is to the left, a medieval longhouse built about 650 years ago ..... Lower Uppacott is to the right .....
Another view of Higher Uppacott with Lower Uppacott hidden to the right.
Looking across the Dart valley to Bench (Benjy) Tor .....
Zoomed view to Rowbrook House, seen on the recent 25th June - Venford Reservoir-Bench Tor walk.
Looking back at Mel Tor including a section of Dr Blackall's Drive. There used to be a custom that involved the rolling of wooden wagon wheels down the hill of Mil Tor to the River Dart on Midsummer Day, but it fell into disuse during WW2. It was revived for a time in the late 1950s but not for long. The idea was to roll them down the 600-foot hill but the rock-strewn nature of the ground stopped most of them. Today, the rusting iron tyres lie around in the wood, some with trees now growing up through them. Another reason for the custom dying might be the shortage of wagon wheels nowadays? (Hemery p.589)
The Dart Valley - with views of what the Drive was built for.
Going down the last slope on the walk before climbing up towards Aish Tor.
A large open area at the split-off up to the left towards Aish Tor - this is the area labelled Brake Corner on the map.
"Aish Tor" , at SX 70346 71543.
Well, that's what I tell them! The real Aish Tor is an unimpressive entity about 85 metres south-east of here in a sea of dense bracken in the summer season, at SX 70420 71498. The risk of ticks is high. This little spot has its own prettiness and makes a nice coffee-stop in the sun!
There are several photographs of the real Aish Tor in this Tor Bagger Blog post, the last photograph is more like the views I was getting in the thick bracken.
"Black and white" metamorphic mudstone and sandstone. This is metamorphic bedrock formed approximately 318 to 328 million years ago in the Carboniferous Period. Originally formed as sedimentary rocks in swamps, estuaries and deltas to form slates. Later altered by low-grade metamorphism i.e. heating during geologic processes such as the nearby intrusion of Dartmoor's molten magma (granite).
Crackington Formation - British Geological Survey - more details, see end section "Definition of Lower Boundary".
Another sample of rock.
"Pile of stones" - I was once told this is Aish Tor .....
Not a bad (cheating, laying down at ground-level) view .....
A truer view of the Pile of Stones, near Aish Tor. It seems to be situated on a raised circular hump of ground so it might be a cairn, an original burial site althought there is no trace of it being described in the usual sources.
Large open space where the walk rejoins at the point where we left the "Drive".
Walking back towards Mil Tor .....
Bronze Age round house (or hut circle) at SX 69521 72531, beside the track, part of the ancient Mel Tor farmstead and enclosure, described by J. Butler (1994), Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities I, 11.4, pages 118-119.
Jeremy Butler (1991), Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, Vol. 1 - The East, Map 11, 4.5 Mel Tor farmstead and enclosure (fig. 11.2) pages 118-119.
The track that is Dr. Blackall's Drive is seen by the wall in this photograph. Butler notes that it is surprising that the round house (hut circle) is so well preserved being so close to the track and surmises that perhaps the larger stones were just too large to remove .....
Image © J Butler 1994. Reproduced by kind permission (ref. 29 Sept. 2012)
Figure showing the hut and its surrounding farmstead field wall remains.
Other search results from the Heritage Gateway about nearby features
Appendix - looking further down the road from Bel Tor Corner and walking into Leusdon village
A very long gatehanger
stone in the area
To see this, exit the Bel Tor Corner car park by turning right and driving about 500 yards (480 metres) down the road until you see a small road off to the left - stop and park immediately, before reaching the turning - because the road is very narrow with no turning or passing places!! The gatehanger stone is about 50 yards along the road .....
Approaching the gatehanger stone, on the top of the hedge the other side of the stile ....
The massive gatehanger stone at SX 69968 73138 .....
The business end of the gatehanger stone, there is a cavity to act as a bearing for the gate .....
PUBLIC FOOTPATH TO
COUNTRY RD NEAR
PONSWORTHY 1/2 M
Leusdon Church and Dr Blackall's grave
From Bel Tor Corner car park, exit by turning right and driving down the road to the 2nd or 3rd turning left (they soon join together). Drive on, passing a small road bearing off left. Park on the grass, on the left, before reaching a small T-junction. The road into Leusdon is narrow and there is no parking. You will have just passed the scene below ..... and parked down just beyond the shadow, on the left .....
This photograph shows two Jubilee Stones, a lot for a tiny hamlet .....
The right-hand stone: Crown EIIR Silver Jubilee 1952-1977.
The lefthand stone: Crown EIIR Diamond Jubilee 1952-2012. Being a diamond jubilee, a diamond is incorporated in the inscribing.
The gate of St John the Baptist's Church, Leusdon, with a recumbent gatepost on the right acting as a kerb, complete with an iron gate hanger.
Leusdon Churchyard Cross, the faces of the top step have been lettered thus:
Right hand edge:
Left hand edge:
|To the Glory of God
In loving memory of Charlotte Rosamond Larpent
Who built and endowed this Church in 1863
"The Memory of the Just is Blessed" Prov x.7.
This inscription is found on the useful and encyclopaedic Dartmoor Crosses web site.
To find the grave of Thomas Blackall, walk in past the church to the first grave that is seen on the left, beyond the chancel i.e. the altar end of the church .....
Thomas Blackall's grave is the decorated "coffin-like" tomb in the foreground of this photograph .....
The grave is directly opposite the small door .....
IN LOVING MEMORY OF THOMAS BLACKALL ESQ, M.D, F.R.C.P.
DIED MAY 4TH 1899, AGED 88 (I forgot to look at the other end of the tomb for any inscription)
"AND NOW LORD, WHAT IS MY HOPE, TRULY MY HOPE IS EVEN IN THEE". Psalm XXXIX.8 (Psalm 39, line 8) - from the Book of Common Prayer (Source). This was not found on a web site that had 34 versions of the bible (line by line), each one was slightly different - but none were exactly like this line.
The interior of the Leusdon Church of St. John the Baptist.
The Leusdon church where Dr Blackall is buried is located in the top right corner of the map below.
MAP: Red = GPS satellite track of the walk.
© Crown copyright 2016 Ordnance
Licence number 100047373
Also, Copyright © 2005, Memory-Map Europe, with permission.
This walk was reached by driving east from Two Bridges on the B3357 to Dartmeet, on the east side of the moor. Pass the popular car park and facilities, following the road east towards Poundsgate for 1.5 miles (2.4 km), passing a small car park about 1/3rd of the way. After what seems like a bit of a distance, there is another car park area n the right - this is the required car park, at Bel Tor Corner - a smaller road cuts back to the left, at the P symbol on the map.
Distance - 5.3 km / 3.3 miles