We started at the small car park on the moor just at the back of the Dartmoor Inn in Lydford. We headed due west for a 1/2 mile or so and then onto the moor proper as we followed the Walla Brook around Brat Tor (that's the one with Widgery Cross on the top of it. The cross being placed there in the 1890s by the artist Widgery to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee). Across country to Rattlebrook and then east along this through the extensive mine and peatworks remnants to the appropriately named Bleak House. Was this the most isolated dwelling on Dartmoor? It dates from the mid-1800s and was originally the house of the manager of the surrounding Dartmoor Compressed Peat Company. This was in operation until the early 1950s in one form or another and produced peat in dried and compressed blocks. Apparently, some of it was also distilled to form a tar which was exported to Russia. The combination of tin mines and peat works lead to quite an extensive railway network in the area, the disused tracks of which are still clearly visible, as are the channels from which the peat was dug.
From Bleak House in a bleak place (a good example of nominative determinism?) we tussocked around Great Links Tor and Little Links Tor and dropped down into the Lyd Valley, just east of Great Nodden. For our last stretch we followed the River Lyd as it cascaded down more or less back to our starting point. Another lucky day weatherwise and another good day out on the moor.
|Widgery Cross on top of Brat Tor. Unlike most crosses on Dartmoor, this one is made of separate blocks rather than a single piece of carved granite.|
|Growing old disgracefully. All of us except the photographer, DC. No, not that DC, another far more important one.|
|Dartmoor mud and water.|
|More Dartmoor water - a feeder stream into Rattlebrook.|
|Another variety of Dartmoor water - crossing the River Lyd.|
|Some, just some, of the tussocks we negotiated. They are deceptively benign looking.|
|The name fits the location - Bleak House.|
|Great Links Tor from the southern side.|