SHARPITOR CAR PARK, CRAMBER DOWN, QUARRIES WEST OF PRINCETOWN
START POINT GRID REF: 562 708

Eric Smith offered one of his specialities on Wednesday 24th Jan 01, a 10 mile romp of the Tors and quarries in the Cramber Down and Princetown areas. There are many walks which are possible on this mainly open access ground and Eric has led many variants of walks over this popular moorland area.

16 of us met for a 10 AM start from the Sharpitor Car Park and 2 more arrived to join us later in the walk.

outline of route to appear here
The route we took is outlined above. It must be related to a 1:25000 ordnance survey map of the area. The outdoor leisure no 28 map of Dartmoor is the best one to cross refer to.

Leaving the Sharpitor Car Park in bright sunshine, on the West side of the Yelverton to Princetown road, we crossed the road and headed off due east towards the Forestry Plantation on the northern side of Burrator.

Over a stile and into the coniferous woods we made our way down and over the Devonport Leat and followed the leat west for a while before dropping down towards the bridge over the River Meavy.

En route we passed the remains of Lether Tor Farm. It must in its prime have been quite a large farm judging by the size of the ruined buildings.

I imagine that this was open moorland or fields when this farm was in its heyday.

 

 

Just beyond the farm on the way down to Lether Tor Bridge, we passed an old cave by the side of the track.

It is said to be an old potato cache where farmers stored the vegetablesaway from the extreme cold and frost of the Dartmoor winters.

 

A few hundred yards further down we crossed over the old Lether Tor Bridge and turned left to follow a track which led up through the woods to the moor and the old Raddick Lane.

Out of the wind sheltered from the westerly wind it was quite warm in the sunshine. One thing about the moor, there is plenty of variation of weather.

In the morning the moor was in a benign mood with pleasant winter sun to warm us, as we gained height, walking up to Cramber Down.

We left the Raddick Lane and turned up towards Crazywell Pool, it is not until you are practically onto the large pool that you can see it. In the sunshine the pool looked very attractive.

We made our way around the pool, up and across the Devonport Leat and headed up onto Cramber Down itself.

After about a half a mile we reached the first Tor of the day, Cramber Tor.

The sun was still shining but in this exposed point the wind was reminding us that it in reality wasn't that warm a day.

Morning coffee was taken at Cramber Tor before we headed up across Cramber Down, looking for another much smaller pool, that of Cramber Pool.

 

In season this pool is fringed by a variety of plants which are found on the moor and looks quite enticing; today, just another Dartmoor pond, as with the Crazywell one, the result of mining in the area.

The next navigation point was Cramber Down Trig Point, only three hundred metres or less east of the little known Cramber Pool.

The ground in the immediate vicinity of the trig point is very badly eroded with the visitors it gets and is now just a peaty mess.

From the trig point we were off north east heading for South Hessary Tor.

The moor between the trig point and the second Tor of the day was expected to be very boggy following the 3 inches of rain the moor had received in the preceding 3 days.

In reality it wasn't too bad at all and we were able to get across to South Hessary Tor unscathed (relatively).

From South Hessary Tor we followed the Abbots Way route across toward Princetown with the North Hessary Tor mast high above it.

As we approached Princetown, bathed in the winter sunshine, the prison was very clearly visible from this direction.

We stopped at Princetown for lunch for a half hour break. At least one of us managed to get the third Wednesday pasty in three weeks, this is becoming a habit.

After all we had just walked part of the Abbots Way.

It was doubtless just luck rather than becoming a requirement of a Wednesday walk.

If you have time allow a half an hour to visit the High Moorland Centre in the old Prison Officer's Club in Princetown. There are some splendid exhibits and the shop offers a wide range of books on the moor and other items.

Leaving Princetown we headed off west towards the route of the old disused railway line for the next section.

We didn't stay on the line for long but veered off to the right on to the moor, tussocks and all.

We made our way around skirting North Hessary Tor up above us, across increasingly tussocky moorland, as we headed across towards Foggintor and its associated quarry.

As usual Erics' built in compass brought him directly to Foggintor. We often drop down and walk into the quarry. On this occasion, Eric chose to take us around the top of the quarry to look down into it. It is now a huge hole in the ground, with Foggintor lake now where one the original Foggin Tor once stood. I wonder just how big the Tor once was.

From Foggintor we headed across to yet another Quarry, this time it was Swell Tor, once again now a hole in the ground where another Tor had once stood.

There had been a great deal of quarrying in this area which the quantity of spoil heap small granite around now stands testament to.

So far the weather had been sunny but the wind was now beginning to pick up and to the north west the sky looked angry and dark.

Lightning was seen and thunder heard. Time to get the overtrousers on and fully kitted before the rains arrived.

The carved granite plinths we stopped beside were actually originally intended as supports for London Bridge and the story had it that the stonemasons had carved too many, these were surplus to requirements.

We picked up the route of the disused railway and followed it around as it gradually descended through the Tors. Imagine how different this whole area must have been a hundred years ago. We could see sidings where the railway once led up into the quarries.

The heavens opened, just as we had predicted, but it wasn't rain we felt but large hailstones. More thunder and lightning all around us, but we were in good hands with Eric. We left the disused line and followed the footpath downhill into the valley below.

We diverted to the right of the true footpath down the valley as it is usually very boggy and kept close to a dry stone wall, with a farmhouse to the right By the farm we turned left and followed the farm track off to the west as we made our way back to Sharpitor area.

We cut a corner off and passed Ingra Tor off above us to our left and made our way up to the old rail route once again. We followed the old rail route along descending slightly, before swinging off upto the left up a clear track for the final uphill section back up to the car park one again.

The hail had stopped, only to be replaced with rain, still it did help to cool us down.

Eric had led us around in his usual style, every waypoint reached spot on, no need for a map, compass or GPS for Eric, despite the hard sell for the need of the electronics by Jack.

Thanks Eric, it had been a good 10 mile walk and we had experienced a range of Dartmoor weather en route during the day. 20 minutes later we were back in the car share point at Tescos after yet another nice day up on the moor, even if the moor was a little less benign after lunch.