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This walk: 2014-9-17.  Heather, Western gorse, CB stone, Ephraim's Pinch, hemp agrimony, honey bee, scaly male fern, butterbur, Clitocyboid mushroom. Sousson's Farm, Challacombe Down, lynchets, hard fern, haircap moss, Golden Dagger 'dry', gorse flower, bramble flowers, Red Barrows. Ringastan ring cairn and cist.

Walk details below - Information about the route etc.

Link to Google Satellite view of the area - including the GPS track of the walk (compare with the Ordnance Survey map plus GPS track below)

Previous walk in this area: 4th Jan. 2012.

NB - Most photos here were taken during the "recce" on 6th Sept.



Roadside scene looking away from the forest - heather (common ling, Calluna vulgaris) and Western gorse, (Ulex gallii or Dwarf Furze) - this is almost entirely late summer flowering (August-September). It also has somewhat darker yellow flowers than Common gorse or furze (Ulex europaeus), which flowers most strongly in spring, though it bears some flowers all year round, hence the old country saying: "When gorse blossom's missing, there'll be no more kissing." The flowers have a very distinctive strong, coconut scent.


CB stone, SX 67634 78595, a fourth Cator Manor boundary stone in the area that is not on the parish boundary and is therefore not on Ordnance Survey maps. Looking at this stone, Spitchwick Manor and the parish of Widecombe is behind the beholder, beyond the stone (to the north) is the parish of Manaton Source: Dave Brewer (2002) Dartmoor Boundary Markers, Halsgrove, p. 78.


Just down the road from the CB stone, a way into the plantation ..... the plantation was planted in 1946 .....


Notice on the gate -


This small hill is the area of Ephraim's Pinch, as marked on the 1:25 Ordnance Survey map .....


© Image reproduced by kind permission of Tim Sandles & the Legendary Dartmoor web site.

The story of poor Ephraim's dreams and travail is told here: Legendary Dartmoor - Ephraim's Pinch.



This appears to be Hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) ......


Inflorescence detail .....


A honey bee at work.


As best as I can identify this fern, it is a Golden or Scaly Male Fern, Dryopteris affinis aka D. pseudomas ....... Reference: Roger Phillips (1980, 3rd edn. 1994), Grasses, Ferns, Mosses & Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland, Macmillan, page 79 .....


The spore-producing sporangia under the frond pinnules are covered by these white, kidney-shaped sori.


Butterbur (aka sweet coltsfoot), Petasites hybridus ?


Taken for the heather .....


The colour!


Sign to the footpath at SX 6801 7899 towards Soussons Farm .....


Closer view .....


That's all it says!


I have been advised that this is probably a Clitocyboid mushroom and potentially nasty, definitely not a Common Chantarelle .....


Navy/blue stipe (= stem) ..... you would think it would be easy to identify this ..... apparently this is a form of bruising .....


A group of the mushrooms.


Approach to Soussons Farm.


If you think this one's funny .... >>>>>


"I can't get my leg over!"



Signpost in the "farm yard" area .....


The hidden pointer - we take this one.


Sign on a gate we passed through into the yard area.


Looking back at Soussons Farm - there was a Sowson tenement here in 1664 (Hemery, page 620).


View to Challacombe Down .....


Medieval lynchets, a sign of old fields: possibly formed by soil slippage or by ploughing in one direction only, before reversible ploughs, or possibly constructed deliberately as beds.


The bridle path ahead from the farm.


As previous photograph.


Where the footpath crosses a forest road at SX 68163 79533 ......


A simple sign.


Bridle path, a little eroded here .....


The bridle path.


Sterile fronds of the Hard Fern, Blechnum spicant, forming a rosette on the woodland floor.


Common haircap moss, Polytrichum commune ..... seen from above .....


Seen from the side, showing it's habit.


Trees and light .....


Dartmoor CAM movie. TIP .....

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

A 360-degree panning movie of a clear-felled area.

Click the photo to download

File size: 2 MB.
Length 18 secs




Another junction, SX 6825 8015 ......


Actually .....


We took neither (we had just come from Soussons Farm), we turned right, down the slope .....


Almost immediately seeing .....


The old 'dry' of the Golden Dagger mine - the only surviving building, or ruins .....


A full view: there were three rooms here.


Pine cone .....


Zoomed view up the tree to show the paired leaves, hence, a pine species : they are always Scots pines on Dartmoor?


Common gorse blossom, Ulex europaeus.


Bramble flowers > blackberries.


Approaching Soussons Plantation's Red Barrows, an area where no trees were planted around a line of four burial mounds. These are on the highest ground and would have stood out along the ridge before it was forested, or "became infested with trees", as described by Eric Hemerey. Barrows 1 and 2 were excavated by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee in 1902, who found charcoal and a flint flake. Barrows 3 and the diminutive no. 4 were dismissed as being unpromising. The cairns are described by Jeremy Butler, 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities II  - The North,  pages 18-19 (fig. 24.2).


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



Identifying plaques for a register of monuments.


Slightly low angle view of the first cairn to show how it would have stood out on the skyline, this area being the top of the ridge.


Another view: Close up Google satellite view of the four cairns, worth a look - you may be able to zoom in closer (using the mouse thumbwheel).




Lichen on a dead tree stump at the back of the cairns.

Near the end of the walk.


The "Ringastan" ring cairn, frequently used for gatherings of various sorts including the use of symbols and blackening of stones. Activities stopped by DNPA action in 1996. Soussons Plantation south cairn and cist, described by Jeremy Butler, 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities II  - The North,  pages 18-20 (fig. 24.3). The name "Soussons" comes from "South Sands", an old name for the nearby farm and former rabbit warren; it was pronounced as "Sowsons".


Closer view of twenty-three earthbound stones surrounding the remains of a cist


The central cist is now filled-in.


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



Nearby DNPA notice.

Walk details

MAP: Red = GPS satellite track of the walk.

© Crown copyright and database rights 2014.  Ordnance Survey Licence number 100047373.  Use of this data is subject to terms and conditions.
Also, Copyright © 2005, Memory-Map Europe, with permission.

This walk was reached by driving through Postbridge from the Two Bridges direction and taking the Widecombe turning on the right just after leaving Postbridge, and driving to the plantation.  Continue along by the trees until seeing a clearing on the left (with the stone circle) - park on the verge.

Distance - 5.62 km / 3.49 miles.