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This walk: 2020-1-25. Yennadon Cross, Lowery Cross, PCWW pillars, covered water reservoir, details about the 1823 horse-drawn tramway (Tyrwhitt's Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway) and the 1883 steam locomotive Princetown Railway, tramway granite setts, Yennadon Stone slate quarry, Iron Mine Lane and gully workings, WW2 searchlight battery, 8-impost clapper bridge, Devonport Leat, entry and exit points onto the Down for the railways, 1823 hairpin loop, cattle creep, Bronze Age hut circle, memorial bench, iron mine sett boundary stone, cycle track bridge, site of Lowery Level Crossing, signal box and crossing keeper's cottage, Lowery Cross godcake. D365-Q5, R5.

Walk details below - Information about the route etc.

Previous walks in this area: 4 November 2009 (incl. lake side),  27 March 2013 20 July 2016

Reconnaissance walks:  31 December 2019 10 January 2020

Google Satellite map + GPS track of the walk 


Further reading

Links to Devon & Dartmoor Historic Environment Records .....
Burrator Reservoir Meavy; Sheepstor; Walkhampton
Stone circle on the south-east corner of Yennadon Down Meavy
Guide post east of Lowery Cross Walkhampton
Plymouth and Dartmoor Railway (Dartmoor section) Buckland Monachorum
Lowery Road level crossing Keeper's cottage Walkhampton
Site of Sheepstor Bridge, Burrator Reservoir Meavy, see
Yennadon Cross Walkhampton
Yennadon Iron Mine Meavy
Drove road near Dousland Plantation, Walkhampton Walkhampton, B3212 narrows bet. Dousland and Yennadon Cross
Hillcrest Bridge, Walkhampton Walkhampton, more likely opp. Burrator Inn rather than towards SWW
Burrator or Furzebreak Quarry, Meavy Meavy
Burrator Inn, Dousland Meavy
Meavy, Yennadon Down AA Battery Meavy
Dousland, Searchlight  Meavy
Yelverton Reservoir, Meavy Meavy


A feature seen at the junction when turning off the B3212 Dousland to Princetown road up to Lowery Cross car park .....

Yennadon Cross (Dartmoor Crosses web site) - located at the staggered Welltown crossroads, with Lowery Cross car park uphill and Welltown downhill .....

Yennadon Cross
Image reproduced with permission from Dartmoor Archive
See the image online HERE


Historic England - Cross at SX545694

Bill Harrison (2001), Dartmoor Stone Crosses, Devon Books, Tiverton, pp.89-90. Yennadon (Welltown) Cross, re-erected 1974 at Welltown crossroads believed near its original site after being used as a gatepost at Burnham Farm. Welltown is downhill from the crossroads.

FH (Harry) Starkey (1983 & 1989), Dartmoor Crosses and Some Ancient Trackways, (Newton Abbot), pp. 46 & 48 .....
Wayside Cross. Medieval, re-sited in 1974. Small granite Latin cross with hollow-chamfered edges and incised cross on its face. Its right-hand arm has been destroyed and it has holes from where it once hung a gate. Prior to 1974 this cross was built in a wall at nearby Burnham Farm. It is possible however that it has been returned to approximately its original position on Yennadon Down as the foundation deed of Buckland Abbey, dated 1280, refers to 'Yanedone Cross as a boundary mark.

Tim Sandles (1997), A Pilgrimage to Dartmoor's Crosses, Forest Publishing, Newton Abbot, p.118


Photograph taken for this walk ..... the incised cross on the the main shaft is quite faint .....


The rear face of the cross, with a faint incised cross.  HERE is a web page showing some tithe map images where the 1823 horse-drawn tramway is actually shown. The 2nd image shows the tramway running diagonally across this crossroads.


There is a PCWW 1917 (Plymouth Corporation Water Works) catchment boundary pillar built into the wall between the two car park entrances at Lowery Cross, at SX 54773 69243. Pew Tor can be seen towards the right edge.


The track after walking downhill towards Yennadon (Welltown) Cross and bearing left towards Dousland.


An example of walling where the local slate is used. This is very different to many Dartmoor walls that are built of granite stones.


The dome covering Dousland Reservoir at SX 54307 69121, fed by a pipe from Devonport Leat. This is not "Yelverton Reservoir" that is mapped up behind Burrator Lodge .....


Reservoir sign .....


Another view.


Field gate at SX 54235 69018 - this is where Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt's 1823 Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway (horse-drawn) left the Down on its way north to Princetown and its quarries. HERE is a web page showing some tithe map images where the 1823 horse-drawn tramway is shown. The 3rd image down shows the gateway (marked by an "x") and the crossroads. The final image shows the approximate route of the later 1883 steam railway.


At SX 54232 68799 - about a dozen granite setts remain from the horse drawn tramway .....


Granite sett with holes for fixing the rails.


Looking into Yennadon Stone - modern (hornfelsed) slate quarry. Hornfelsed means the Tavy slate was altered by heat from the adjacent intrusion of molten granite that formed the bulk of Dartmoor. The bedrock was laid down as sedimant in open seas about 359 to 383 million years ago.


This photograph is taken from the old tramway / road that runs from the field gate shown above to an area of railway that will be seen below. It shows one end of the gully / gert of the old Meavy Iron Mine.


Looking down the main part of Iron Mine Lane that joins the Dousland / Meavy road .....


House name of the property on the right of the photo above.


The rough track running upslope beside the iron mine workings, on the left .....


From: Mike Brown (2001), Guide to Dartmoor, CD-ROM, Dartmoor Press, Grid Square 542 683: " In 1836 Ralph Lopes leased the area to George Stone Baron to “dig work mine and search for Iron, Iron Ore, Iron Stone and all other Ores” on what was then called Great Yennadon Common, the rent being 1s 8d in the £ on the “gross value according to the price on the day of all such ores metals and minerals which shall be...digged raised and gotten out of from or in the said premises”. A map incorporated into the lease shows the locations of thirteen boundary stones which were erected to mark the limits of the sett."

There was no lease following, so, it must be concluded the venture was unsuccessful. In 1846, another license was issued to other adventurers!


Part of a mine gully .....


The gully ends in a pit, of sorts .....


Another area shows what was perhaps a deeper pit or shaft .....


This is looking down into a deep pit upslope in which tall trees are almost hidden from view. There is an area further up on the Down at SX 54507 68263 where there are two pools and perhaps capped shafts from later trials.


Pastscape: The site of Second World War searchlight battery no. EXD, at Dousland. This was operational from 9 Feb. 1944. It could help protect Plymouth, Burrator Reservoir and RAF Harrowbeer at Yelverton. All that remains are the outlines of a row of four huts, of which only one has anything obvious ..... 


The hut base, looking in the other direction.


Clapper bridge with eight imposts at SX 54264 68001, over the "dry" Devonport Leat .....


Another view.


The gate at SX 54257 67930 where the 1823 horse-drawn tramway (Old Plymouth website) left this area of the Down to run north to Iron Mine Lane and past the Yennadon Quarry out through the field gate seen earlier.


The gate at SX 54195 67909 where both railways entered Yennadown Common. The first railway, the 1823 horse-drawn PDR of Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt has already been mentioned. The second railway was the 1883 Princetown Railway (using steam locomotives) that replaced it, runnning from Yelverton to Princetown. It connected with the 1859 South Devon and Tavistock Railway Company (SD&TR) Plymouth-Tavistock line. It was adopted by the GWR from 1st January 1922 and closed March 3rd, 1956. Another link (Old Plymouth website).


A more direct look, west, at the gate area .....


Over the gate - the old railway area is a mass of brambles.


Looking east, at the famous "Yennadon loop". The horse-drawn tramway consisted of short wagons that could be pulled in quite a tight turn. The line enters this image at the far right, from the gateway seen above, swings around a hairpin bend (kindly marked by the sheep) and doubles back towards the camera at the left, from where it goes through the first gate above up to Iron Mine Lane and on to Princetown via the west side of the Down.

The steam railway could not turn a tight bend like this and was built running into this image at the bottom left and on into the distance towards the reservoir where it ran around the flank of the Down above the dam to Burrator & Sheepstor Halt and then on to Princetown, travelling up the east side of the Down.


This panorama was taken standing at the sharpest part of the hairpin loop. The left section (left of the water) is the horse tramway looking at the gate where both railways enter the Down, the loop doubles back around the sheep to the right. Near the trees is where the tramway looped back before the steam railway was built on top of it   Click on the image to see a larger version


These are the trees where the steam railway ran from left (beside the trees) to right towards Princetown after the horse tramway ran from left to right but then looped back left again to run up past the quarry to Princetown. All clear?      


Following the old steam railway route east towards the reservoir, we approach a cattle creep ..... we also see some wheeltracks where four-wheel drive eejits made headlines on local television news last week for cutting up the Down .....


More 4WD tracks up from the road to the dam .....


Circles cut into the grass.


At the cattle creep, which would have been bridged - these were installed at intervals along the railway to enable livestock to cross (underneath) because it would have been fenced along its route ..... to protect the livestock from the trains .....


Some detail .....


A cow or pony's eye view of the creep under, at SX 54600 67800, much larger than a sheep creep.


PCWW 1917 pillar at SX 54870 67751, the railway is just to the right of the pillar. This is  about 90 metres from the road. At this point, the walk left the railway track and climbed up the slope onto the Down.


A solitary Bronze Age hut circle at SX 54905 67815, some 95 metres from the quarry car park; with Sheeps Tor behind.


There were 20 of us on this walk - and a little bit of blue sky would have helped! Some folks pulled out because of the mist - at least it didn't rain until mid-afternoon. This is the group near the hut circle.


 "Hash speak" for "this is the trail."


View with Peak Hill (left), Sharpitor (left of centre, with North Hessary Tor mast behind) and Leather Tor (right).


Memorial bench at SX 54916 68258 .....


Inscription .....


A view over the Longstone area of Burrator with Sheeps Tor in the distance .....


Sheeps Tor with Narrator on its left flank, the "pimple" just above the distant horizon. The enclosure wall seen running up the slope approx. in the centre of the image is the corn ditch wall we saw on the 19th Dec. Sheepstor walk on 9th January.


One of the boundary stones of the iron mine "sett" (permitted working area) ..... "One of the boundary stones which marked the sett has in fact survived, the existence of which had been overlooked by previous Dartmoor explorers and writers until I discovered it some years ago, a rough-hewn short pillar standing against the eastern enclosure wall 20 yards north of the wall corner, in exactly the position in which the last stone on the northern boundary was indicated on the 1836 map (see above)". Source: Mike Brown (2001) Guide to Dartmoor, CD-ROM, Dartmoor Press, Grid Square 5489 6833. 


A closer view.


Looking back at SX 55035 68676, at the wood located behind the iron mine sett boundary stone. Down the slope from here, the route of the 1883 steam railway could be seen, now a cycle track.


Having descended slightly, the walk rejoined the old Princetown Railway (later GWR) railway route / cycle route. Ahead is a modern bridge over the small road from Lowery Cross down to Burrator Discovery Centre .....


Looking down on the road, up towards Lowery Cross, where the car park is.


The Lowery Cross trees, the car park is at the righthand end of them.


Approaching the site of Lowery Crossing, the crossing keeper's cottage was on the open green area, the signal box was behind the lefthand fence ..... OS 25-inch map, 1892-1914 Series


Looking at the crossing keeper's cottage area, along the steam railway route, across the road that runs from Lowery Cross (right) to Cross Gate (left).


Negative of a "TA" stone as gatepost near Lowery Crossing
Image reproduced with permission from Dartmoor Archive
See the image online HERE


In discussing the Tavistock-Ashburton TA marker stones, Worth writes "The stone which was removed to Lowery can still be seen functioning as a gatepost hard by Lowery Crossing; it stands immediately inside the north hedge of the road, and fifty yards east of the crossing keeper's cottage."  Source: R Hansford Worth (1967), Worth's Dartmoor, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, page 401.

The gatepost report is interesting but it appears that the gatepost is no longer there. There is perhaps an error in that there is no gateway within 50 yards or so to the east of Lowery Crossing, the nearest gate is 160 metres away and in the south hedge. The north hedge has high ground behind it. There is a gateway 63 metres to the west, in the north hedge. This gateway has been dismantled and widened, and a new fence is erected inside the field with a wide gate. There is possibly a longish stone on the ground, grown over.


The gateway 160 metres east of the crossing, in the south hedge. No sign of a "T".


The gate in the hedge on the north side of the road, 63 metres west of the crossing. The old gateway is very much widened and a new fence and gate have been erected within the field .....


There is a long stone semi-buried beside the gateway that may be the missing "T" stone.

Further information received 27th January, from Mark Fenlon .....

The original location of this TA stone is not known. It was reported that it was taken to Two Bridges quarry in 1969 and used as a doorstep into the National Park's caravan that was their information centre.  It was then taken to Postbridge in the early 1980s from where it was lost. There was a suggestion that it went into the foundations of the present information centre. It was rediscovered in the 1990s being used as an impost in a clapper bridge over the Wheal Emma Leat, at SX 6855 6910. Source: Dave Brewer (1991), The Tavistock - Ashburton Packhorse Track and its Guide Stones, Old Dartmoor Company, Okehampton, pp. 35-36. My thanks to Mark. This is almost west of Michelcombe near Scoriton/Holne.


A feature in the road at Lowery Cross (never a crossroads?) that is reminiscent of Jay's Grave .....


This grass triangle is no burial place - it is a triangular piece of land that was left so that a horse and cart could negotiate a fork in the road where three lanes meet, or maybe it built up from these cart and wagon turnings over the centuries: this is called a godcake. The so-called "Coventry Godcakes" take their name from these triangle shapes and are not particular to any one county or city as they are found everywhere. Godcake is used today for a grassy traffic island in Northamptonshire. Another description. The term was recently used correctly by Worzel Gummidge!


A final look at the Lowery Cross godcake.


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 B3212 road from Dousland to Princetown by turning right at the first road encountered after leaving Dousland. This is a crossroads where the left turn goes downhill to Welltown. Parking is at the yellow cross and the  P  symbol indicated on the map.


Distance - 4.79 km / 2.98 miles


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