Sunday, 13 November 2016

Third time lucky for this walk.

My IWC and I first did this walk at the beginning of October as a recce for walks we were soon to lead for our two walking groups. Having done it three times now, I'm putting it very near the top of my 'to be repeated' walks list. It really does have everything I like - Dartmoor scenery, history, isolation and nature. And everyone else we've walked this route with seems to have the same favourable opinion. 
For Walk #2 we followed the route described for Walk #1. The route above shows #3 where I took a shortcut towards the end to avoid a couple of nasty stiles that some group members might have had problems negotiating. This took the distance down to 7.5 miles.
A great view at our start for #2. No such luck on #3 when the rain and mist brought visibility down to a few yards. So much so that, for the first time for ages, I didn't risk my camera on the walk. As it turned out, the weather improved within 30 minutes!
Danger mineshafts! It always sensible to pay heed to instructions like these as this part of the walk is pitted with shafts from the old East Vitifer mine. Not all were recorded and it's not unknown for the rudimentary capping to collapse into a large hole. I should add that when we did Walk #1 we went slightly adrift at this point and rambled through the area designated 'danger mineshafts'.
Keen eyes would spot a circular hump and a lump of metal sticking out of the wall of the barn. Those who know these things would say "ah, the remains of a horse gin or whim". What's that?  Horses were attached to a pole that they pulled around a central drum which, when rotated, drove a series of connected shafts that drove machinery inside a barn. Some horse whims/gins required one horse, others two. How old would this one be? Can't really say but I'd hazard a guess that it would have been in operation into the early 20th century. But I could be wrong.
Just up the road from the external horse whim, we come across this building. Although the photograph doesn't really show it, the walls are circular.
The circular walls are more obvious from the inside and we can safely conclude that, at one time, this housed a horse whim. It pays to walk around with your eyes open (and accompanied by someone who is an expert in old buildings. Thank you, RR).
Yet another of Dartmoor's pleasant sights inspecting at a berry-laden hawthorn tree. 1034 were counted.
The difference a couple of weeks make. Same tree as above and these were the only bunches left. The rest would have been stripped by the birds. Lots of starlings around to get stuck in.
Simply larch but fascinating textures.
More simply larch.
Simply teazles along the way. Did you know that these were used to produce the nap on felt? And were the forerunners of tenterhooks? Somewhere we've been told us that some places still use teazles for this purpose but the heads now come from Spain. Damn foreign teazles! They come over here, napping our felt.... Brexit just can't come soon enough to sort 'em out.
Just a leafy wood with a stream running through it. Given the shaped sides of this stretch of water and the way it deliberately narrows, I wonder if this was, at one time, the start of something connected with a mill. There must have been some reason for this effort in such an out-of-the-way place.
Someone has put this gatepost in upside down, presumably because it has been recycled. It was originally from a pole gate so the wooden poles would have slid in and then gone down into the slot to be held in place. Sliding them up in this configuration won't do anything!
A nice bit of stone walling using the local stone.
And here's a clip from the BBC TV series - An Edwardian Farm - in which the presenters give a less-than-comprehensive trip around a Dartmoor Farm, but they do mention a horse gin, without saying what it does. All a bit superficial, isn't it? And not really doing the subject matter justice.

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