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Posts Tagged ‘Dartmoor’

More Local Views – Haytor and Widecombe-In-The-Moor

Posted by cotojo on March 3, 2009

Over last weekend my daughter came to stay and as the weather was dry we decided to go to Dartmoor.  Now, Dartmoor is a wide open expanse  of moorland in the centre of Devon, England and is protected by National Park status, it covers 368 square miles (953 square km).

Firstly, we drove out through the village of Bovey Tracey and headed up the winding country lanes that lead to Haytor.

Haytor seen from the car park

Haytor seen from the car park

Haytor

Haytor

Haytor or Hay Tor is a granite tor on Dartmoor and has a height of 457 metres and is situated right on the eastern side of the moor, providing excellent views of the coastline, the Teign estuary and the rolling countryside between, with the ridge of Haldon behind. It is near the village of Haytor Vale in the parish of Ilsington and until the late 18th century Haytor was known as Itterdown.

Adjacent Haytor Rocks

Adjacent Haytor Rocks

Haytor and the adjacent Haytor Rocks, is a natural beauty spot popular with coach parties and walking groups.  The granite here is of a particularly high quality and there are several disused quarries near the tor, the rock being transported by the Haytor Granite Tramway to the Stover Canal.

Quarry Face

Quarry Face

Inside Quarry Basin

Inside Quarry Basin

The tramway itself was built out of the granite it would carry,much of which remains visible today.  Granite from the quarry was also used in the construction of London Bridge which was opened in 1831, but by 1962 the bridge was sinking and had to be replaced. The last rock was quarried here in 1919 and it was used for the Exeter war memorial.

Piles of Granite Blocks from Quarry

Piles of Granite Blocks from Quarry

Haytor on left looking over the Teign Valley

Haytor on left looking over the Teign Valley

View to West over Dartmoor

View to West over Dartmoor

After walking back down to the car park we drove on to Widecombe-In-The-Moor which is probably best known for Widecombe Fair, held annually and celebrated by a well-known folksong of the same name, featuring ‘Old Uncle Tom Cobley and All’.

Widecombe-In-The-Moor

Widecombe-In-The-Moor from Widecombe Hill

Widecombe-In-The-Moor sign depicting Uncle Tom Cobley and All

Widecombe-In-The-Moor sign depicting Uncle Tom Cobley and All

The church of St Pancras is known as the ‘Cathedral of the Moors’ in recognition of its 120 foot tower and relatively large capacity for such a small village. The church was originally built in the fourteenth century using locally quarried granite and was enlarged over the following two centuries, partly on the proceeds of the local tin mining trade.

The church clock tower

The church clock tower

Inside, the ceiling is decorated with a large number of decorative roof bosses, including the tinner’s emblem of a circle of three hares (known locally as the Tinners’ Rabbits).

The church was badly damaged in the Great Thunderstorm of 1638, apparently struck by ball lightning during a severe thunderstorm. An afternoon service was taking place at the time, and the building was packed with aaround 300 worshippers. Four of them were killed and some 60 injured. According to local legend, the Great Thunderstorm was caused by the village being visited by the Devil.

The Church bell clappers from 1638

The Church bell clappers from 1638

In Widecombe churchyard is the grave of novelist Beatrice Chase who spent much of her life in a cottage close to the village. Her real name was Olive Katharine Parr, and she claimed to be a direct descendant of William Parr, the brother of Catherine, the sixth wife of Henry VIII.  Chase was often referred to as ‘The Lady of the Moor’ following the publication of John Oxenham’s novel in which she was the heroine. The book was called My Lady of the Moor, and she simply adopted the title.

Headstone of Beatrice Chase -The Lady In The Moor

Headstone of Beatrice Chase -The Lady In The Moor

She died in 1955, and was buried in Widecombe churchyard. The small granite cross on her grave is inscribed with Beatrice Chase on one side and Olive Katharine Parr on the other.

Reverse side of Beatrice Chase headstone

Reverse side of Beatrice Chase headstone

The village is very small, but locals would walk for many miles over the open moorland from other hamlets to attend church, and the pathways across the moor can still be seen and are also used by many walkers. Even now, it has around 196 households.

The village is full of old buildings and one of the earliest signs of a settlement is the Saxon Well, which is said to never run dry.  One of the most picturesque wells in Devon, even if its antiquity is disputed. Located downhill from the centre of the village, just below the old post office this charming little well is known variously as ‘Holy’, ‘Wishing’ and most commonly ‘Saxon Well’, although no one really knows how old it is. More recently coins have been thrown in and  a door was fitted.

Saxon Well

Saxon Well

Inside the Well

Inside the Well

The lyrics of Devon’s best known folk song tell a simple enough story, seven men and a grey mare set off for Widecombe Fair, but before completing their journey the old horse becomes sick and dies.  People from mid-Devon would have travelled to the annual livestock sale at Widecombe at the end of every summer to trade their goods for sheep and it is this cross-country journey that is described in the lyrics of the song.

The song lyrics, in full:

Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare.
All along, down along, out along lee.
For I want for to go to Widecombe Fair,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

And when shall I see again my grey mare?
All along, down along, out along lee.
By Friday soon, or Saturday noon,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

So they harnessed and bridled the old grey mare.
All along, down along, out along lee.
And off they drove to Widecombe fair,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

Then Friday came, and Saturday noon.
All along, down along, out along lee.
But Tom Pearce’s old mare hath not trotted home,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

So Tom Pearce he got up to the top o’ the hill.
All along, down along, out along lee.
And he seed his old mare down a-making her will,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

So Tom Pearce’s old mare, her took sick and died.
All along, down along, out along lee.
And Tom he sat down on a stone, and he cried
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

But this isn’t the end o’ this shocking affair.
All along, down along, out along lee.
Nor, though they be dead, of the horrid career
Of Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

When the wind whistles cold on the moor of the night.
All along, down along, out along lee.
Tom Pearce’s old mare doth appear ghastly white,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

And all the long night be heard skirling and groans.
All along, down along, out along lee.
From Tom Pearce’s old mare in her rattling bones,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

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Posted in Haytor, Haytor and Widecombe-In-The-Moor, Life, Widecombe-In-The-Moor | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Local Sights – Becky Falls in Devon, UK

Posted by cotojo on July 14, 2008

Over the weekend my daughter stayed with me so we decided that as it was a dry day on Saturday we would go out to Dartmoor. On the drive there she spotted a sign for Becky Falls and asked if we could go there instead, so we did.

Becky Falls

Becky Falls

Downriver from top of Becky Falls

Downriver from top of Becky Falls

Becky Falls is near to Manaton and is high on Dartmoor, 750 feet above the sea and was first inhabited during the Bronze and Iron Age, and remains of the settlements and medieval villages can be seen there. Many came in search of water, wood and shelter, and in this ancient woodland valley they found plenty of it.

Ancient Dwelling

Ancient Dwelling

With the arrival of railways in the mid 1800’s it became a popular destination with visitors disembarking at Bovey Tracey and travelling along the newly constructed road across Dartmoor in horse drawn carriages. Dartmoor, until the late 19th century was a wilderness, remote and unknown, and the journey must have been one of intense pleasure and wonder for those who travelled along the new roads, opening up areas of great beauty to them.

It first opened to the public in 1903, and has been attracting visitors ever since.

Becky Falls remains relatively untouched throughout the centuries, and many visitors come to see what is described as one of the most scenic and untouched areas of Dartmoor, tucked away in a valley which is very tranquil and where wildlife and woodlands thrive.

Becky Falls Close Up

Becky Falls Close Up

It’s a magical place to explore, climb over boulders in the river, get soaked in the process or just to walk through the remains of Roman aqueducts, which channelled the water from the River Bovey down to Bovey Tracey, amble along ancient footpaths where the only sounds are the rushing waters and the birds singing.

Woodland Trail

Woodland Trail

There is an abundance of rare and endangered flora and fauna, including some extremely rare lichens and fungi, and Becky Falls has been designated a site of special scientific interest.

Foxgloves and Rhododendrons

Foxgloves and Rhododendrons

Foxglove

Foxglove

It is also a place of folklore, with fables of woodland pixies to ensure the safe passage of travellers as they passed through the woodlands, including The Money Tree.

The Money Tree

The Money Tree

About The Money Tree

About The Money Tree

The Money Tree close up

The Money Tree close up

In more recent times a cafeteria and gift shop has been added near to the entrance, but this does not spoil the natural beauty of the area as you walk along the well trodden paths, as have countless others over the centuries.

Chair carved from tree root

Chair carved from tree root

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Posted in Life, Local Sights - Becky Falls in Devon | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments »

Local Places of Interest

Posted by cotojo on September 27, 2007

This pic is of my daughter.  She lives with her mum about 1 hours drive away and stays with me every fourth weekend, and for longer periods during the school hoidays.  So when she is here she likes to go out and about (as long as the Bank of Dad is open) and we go to many different places

We will drive down alongside the River Teign heading towards Teignmouth and Shaldon and then on towards Dawlish.

At Teignmouth there is a sandbar which stretches out for several hundred yards and the river estuary has to be constantly dredged so that freight carrying ships can navigate the entrance without becoming grounded.

The beach is very popular with locals and tourists and stretches from the river mouth at Teignmouth toward Dawlish. The main London to Penzance railway line runs along the coast and through tunnels connecting the villages.

Teignmouth is also home to one of Britain’s narrowest streets, Stanley Street, although there is a much narrower one in nearby Exeter.

The main London to Penzance railway line, looking from Dawlish toward Exeter, often gets breached by the sea in severe weather and this will frequently close the line.  Over the years many parts have had to be replaced and the sea wall has collapsed on numerous ocassions.  This causes major disruption to all rail users.

Drive out to the open expanse of Dartmoor and the rocky granite outcrop of Haytor is a long climb up from the narrow winding roads.  Once at the top it is great to be able to climb up the rock and see the views around.

This is one such view looking toward Trendlebere.  Dartmoor is preserved as a National Park and has many wild ponies as well as sheep grazing.  It’s a great place for peace and quiet, rambling in groups, but never on ones own as it is too easy to lose your sense of direction and get lost.  There are few houses once on Dartmoor itself.

This is a rocky outcrop, reaching into the sea at Torquay just outside of the harbour.  Torquay is also known as The English Riviera and is very popular with tourists.  It also hosts many major events such as powerboat racing, the Tall Ships Race and has an annual Bikers Make a Difference show where thousands of bikers from all around the country gather to raise money for various charities.

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