Wednesday 23 June 2021

Dartmoor: Buckfast to Pupers Hill Circular (14.63 miles)

Avon Dam

This circular walk began in Buckfast and the aim of the walk was to simply get out for a decent wander into a quiet part of the National Park. No new squares were bagged, but I did pick up all of the Dean Prior/South Brent Parish Boundstones as well as some new benchmarks and a standing stone! The following account is a summary, and some bits were left out.

Fore Street Moor Otter

I headed south from Buckfast along the Buckfastleigh relief road to S17 Buckfastleigh, where I visited all three Moor Otters (albeit all behind glass as I was early). I moved through the town visiting post boxes en route to Coxhill Cross, and thence Warm Bridge and onto T16 Deancombe. At Deancombe I turned right and headed uphill all the way to T15 Moor Cross. Now I was headed along a new track, that of Sandy Way, a public bridleway that soon bears right through a gate and into a field. Here, I noticed a lot of cattle in the next field over that I would need to negotiate, and pondered turning back to take the unofficial path to Reddacleave Moor Gate. But I resisted, wanting to stay on the right of way.

Buckfastleigh Relief Road Plaque SX 73649 66406

Warm Bridge

Cows near Addislade

Moor Cross

Upon reaching the field I noticed a lot of calves, but fortunately the herd seemed more afraid of me than I did of them. I slowly made my way to the left of them, giving a wide berth and checking behind me to check for any danger. All was fine, and with a sigh of relief I reached the moor at Skerraton Gate. A really clear track heads right to the obvious Harbourne Man standing stone, a fine specimen with a benchmark inscribed. Next, and close by, was Harbourne Well or Head, a surprisingly prominent boggy spring that holds dense sphagnum moss. It was a lovely spot and I enjoyed listening to the sound of the bubbling water.

Public Footpath to Skerraton Gate

Harbourne Head Standing Stone

Harbourne Head Standing Stone

Harbourne Head or Well SX 69547 65067

Now for some off-piste, loosely following the right bank of the infant river, with the intention of reaching boundstone No.1 which is near Dockwell Hole. As I neared, I heard a cuckoo, presumably in the valley below me. It was a splendid area of the moor with some potential wild camping spots near the river if you're into that type of thing! (I did check the camping map beforehand and it is permitted. Please check the DNPA website for information, etc.) I was surprised by the number of feather beds and boggy depressions around here, but they didn't bother me and added to the emptiness.

Top of Dockwell Hole

Top of Dockwell Hole

Boggy Ground above Dockwell Hole SX 69430 64347

Boggy Ground above Dockwell Hole SX 69430 64347

I visited boundstones 1-14 with ease, all easy to find along with a 'bonus' stone between 13 and 14, courtesy of Steve Grigg. My thanks go to Steve for drawing my attention to this parish boundary; it was about time I visited the stones! My favourite was No.8.

Please visit Steve's website and post here. You are bound (excuse the pun) to find something that interests you. It's a treasure trove of information and particularly industrial items that many of us walk past obliviously.

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.01 SX 69406 64341

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.02 SX 69225 64394

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.03 SX 69104 64431

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.04 SX 69025 64455

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.05 SX 68961 64470

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.06 SX 68890 64487

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.07 SX 68832 64503

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.08 SX 68697 64541

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.09 SX 68641 64541

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.10 SX 68597 64541

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.11 SX 68531 64547

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.12 SX 68477 64547

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.13 SX 68380 64557

Mystery Standing Stone SX 68329 64562

South Brent/Dean Prior Parish Boundstone, No.14 SX 68237 64573

Small Brook

S13 Avon Dam was shortly reached, almost bumping into a cow that was, along with others, taking shade in the trees near the dam. It was great to back to this reservoir, which is one of my favourites. The water is always eerily silent, and the banks are a lovely glade in the summer. I followed the path through Waterfoot Clatter to the foot of Brockhill Stream. I made the decision to cross here and not at Brockhill Ford where I noticed a herd of cows congregating. I hadn't walked this (I call it the lower) path for a few years, and it was great to back on old turf. I found a rock in the middle of the path, perfectly suited for me, where I could have a drink and phone home to let them know of my route change in case of an accident.

Avon Dam Reservoir

Waterfoot Clatter

Brockhill Foot SX 67889 65490

The Perfect Seat SX 67430 65655

My plan to avoid the cattle was fraught as I crested the hill because there were more at Western Wella Brook Foot, but I still descended almost to it before hooking a right between them (but at a distance) through horrible tussocks. I hadn't remembered the going to R13 Keble Martin's Chapel to be this bad before; it was actually dangerous and as the grass became waist height I thought I was going to meet my demise! Sadly, at the chapel, I failed to locate the wooden board/memorial.

Keble Martin's Chapel

Keble Martin Cross

I crossed at least one of the old dry leats at Huntingdon Mine to search for a millstone, but my NGR may have been incorrect. I did find a potential candidate but I am not sure. Crossing the Huntingdon Mine Track (which goes from Lud Gate to R12 Huntingdon Warren Farm), I made my way up the slope to Pupers, or Puppers, through some clitter near the top. Outer Pupers, Pupers Rock (Middle Pupers) and Inner Pupers were all bagged again, and I did contemplate visiting Q13 Snowdon - but I put my foot down! As a distraction I had two benchmarks on my GPS to find, which were successfully located on the south-east flank of the hill.

Possible Millstone, Huntingdon Mine SX 66864 66983

Outer Pupers

Moving the Cows below Pupers Hill

Pupers Rock or Middle Pupers

Inner Pupers

I checked old maps to see if there were any extras to be found between here and Lud Gate, and there was one. Having not plotted it, I had to rely on my satellite imagery (on ViewRanger) and its position on the old maps in relation to a group of trees. It took a while, but miraculously I actually found the benchmark - and what a superb example. To continue this luck I also, finally, stumbled upon the Hayford Cross socket stone, though at a slightly different NGR.

It is speculated that this so-called 'socket stone' was actually used in the nearby Hayford Leat to regulate water and, based on overwhelming support for this theory, and the lack of a cross shaft in the vicinity, I am happy to subscribe to this theory. After all, it seems more plausible!

B.M. 1303.9, SEF, Pointed Rock, Large Cut SX 67908 67254

Hayford Cross Socket Stone SX 68235 67332

Through Lud Gate, I headed down to R15 Cross Furzes and turned left just after to descend to Brook Mill. As it was downhill it didn't take long to reach the mill, but it did entail a short climb up to Hockmoor Head. A new boundary stone can be found at the crossroads, inscribed 'B' and 'BW'. If anyone knows when it was erected please let me know; I'm guessing in the last decade?

Lud Gate/Huntingdon Mine Track

Cross Furzes Guide Stone

Brook Mill

The new B Stone at Hockmoor

Through lanes I ended back in Buckfast, some 6 hours later. I loved this route: I hardly saw anyone, even at the reservoir, and there is such an abundance to see. Provided you don't mind some road walking, and the distance, it is a fine route.

Buckfast Abbey

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