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This walk: 2015-9-16. Beatland Cross socket stone, WWII gun emplacement, RAF Hawks Tor, GEE system, Laira Bridge, Hawks Tor, H post, stonecrop, rockpan, wedge and groove marks, Bronze Age settlement, Shaugh Cross.

Walk details below - Information about the route etc.

Old maps .....
Overview of old maps
Ordnance Survey, Six-inch to the mile, 1868-1913

Where we walked: Google Satellite view of the area - including the GPS track of the walk (compare with the Ordnance Survey map plus track below)

Previous walk in this area: 2nd Dec. 2009, 6th March 2013, 16th May 2013 and 14th May 2014.  

For some reason, today's photographs are very dull, grainy and lacking resolution. This may be because it was such a dull day that on the "auto" setting the shutter speeds were slow.


Perhaps I should start carrying my tripod again: this is a zoomed photograph of a frigate that was going through a water spray decontamination exercise, according to certain former naval personnel with us .....

Zoomed further.

Beatland Cross sign post .....

Beatland Cross socket stone: SX 54833 62416, this was a waymarker cross for the monks on the old route between the Augustinian Priory, Plympton, and Tavistock Abbey ..... it has been suggested that this may once have held the cross that is now Shaden Moor Cross, a quarter of a mile up the road.

Looking from the socket stone (centre, at lower edge) to Beatland cross roads.

WWII anti-aircraft gun emplacement at SX 54982 62304, to protect RAF Hawks Tor (link to Pastscape web page: RAF Hawks Tor).


During WWII, RADAR came into use, being an acronym for RADio Detection And Ranging. There was a radar detection system where several stations would detect aircraft with their positions being plotted at a central facility so that fighter aircraft could be guided to the relevant position to intercept.  The Air Ministry's Chain Home system can be described thus (from Wikipedia):

"Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, several RDF (radar) stations known as Chain Home(or CH) were constructed along the South and East coasts of Britain, based on the successful model at Bawdsey. CH was a relatively simple system. The broadcast side was formed from two 300-ft (90-m) tall steel towers strung with a series of antennas between them. A second set of 240-ft (73-m) tall wooden towers were used for reception, with a series of crossed antennas at various heights up to 215 ft (65 m). Most stations had more than one set of each antenna, tuned to operate at different frequencies."   

The enemy adopted a tactic of approaching the coast at low altitude but they were then detected by another system designed for the purpose - the coastal Chain Home Low system. RAF Hawks Tor does not appear in the list of these sites.  According to the Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation, it was a Chain Home Station. Chain Home Low radars were often located on the same sites as Chain Home radars.

This radar system should not be confused with the Gee system:

Gee, sometimes written GEE, was the code name given to a radio navigation system used by the Royal Air Forceduring World War II. It measured the time delay between two radio signals to produce a "fix", with accuracy on the order of a few hundred meters at ranges up to about 350 miles (560 km). It was the first hyperbolic navigation system to be used operationally, entering service with RAF Bomber Commandin 1942

RAF Sharpitor, at Peek Hill, was a master station in the Gee system and part of the South Western Chain.

The approach road to RAF Hawks Tor, with a concrete artefact in the foreground .....

Concrete base of possibly an admin building .....

A concrete "cist" among the ruins .....

General view across the site .....

Concrete bases of a tower (there are two sets of the these on the site, the other is quite overgrown) .....

Photograph showing the scale of the bases. From the 16th May 2013 web page .....

SX 55136 62233 - RAF Hawks Tor: World War 2 Chain Home Low Radar Station (for detecting low flying aircraft) - be sure to click the Related Text link to see the story about this site (SX 55078 62280). The concrete bases are the footings of masts. Clicking the Aerial Photograph link reveals that there were two of the these masts plus other structures in the area. It must have been quite a large site. Dartmoor Magazine, Autumn 2009, Issue 96, pages 42-43 describes the site as a Chain Home site without the low or extra-low flying detection capability - this to provide long range cover for Plymouth, Exeter and the south coasts of Devon and Cornwall. It opened in May 1940 and was closed in 1943.  Click here for a Google map of the area - it is a better view."

Shaugh Prior church.

View down the estuary of the River Plym, looking at Laira bridge, with the fuel storage depot towards the right edge.

Hawks Tor and an "H" post .....

Zoomed view to the tor .....

Zoomed view to believed Bickleigh Viaduct ..... 216 yards long, 62 feet high, originally built 1856-1859 by Brunel, replaced 1902 with blue Staffordshire brick.  One of Brunel's original brick-built piers can still be seen under the central arch (in this photograph), these supported timber trestles that carried the original track bed. The viaduct is now part of the "27" Sustrans cycle track.

Believed Cann viaduct.

Medieval "H" stone, SX 55371 62470, inscribed on just one face, signifying possibly nearby Huxton Farm or Hemerdon .....

Hawks Tor, SX 55397 62495, elevation 273 metres (895 feet) .....

Was it once a cromlech, a burial place?

Rock pans on the upper surface .....


English stonecrop, Sedum anglicum .....


Another feature of the upper face of the capstone on the tor - very clear wedge and groove marks, indicating that someone was preparing to split the rock (prior to feather and tare being introduced around 1800?) .....


The capstone on the tor has been rotated 90 to form the chamber: this is evident from the orientation of the white quartz vein seen in this photograph. The capstone is at the bottom of the photo, where the vein runs left-right, and in the underlying rock, the vein runs top-bottom.


View to the Bronze Age settlement .....


Signs of one of the two hut circles, overgrown.


A Ministry of Works marker from the 1970's, one of several that mark antiquities.  They were to be used up the entire Plym valley until common sense prevailed.

The Loch Ness worm.

Usually, we just carry water!

Shaugh Prior Cross,  SX 5443 6309, this may have been used as a preaching cross before the first church was built (in the 14th century) .....

General view .....

Another viewpoint.

A niche (well?) in the wall on the left when entering the village.

The Church of St. Edward, King and Martyr, Shaugh Prior .....

War memorial: there is also a cross socket stone in the churchyard.

Showing the "massiveness" of the church tower.

Chained churn, seen along the way.


Public footpath - road at Purps Farm.


Hidden, gated, dark lane.


Looks like a mixed crop ....


Oil seed rape, carrots and swede/turnip.


This was two photographs taken without thought of a "panorama" - back to the tripod again!


Final views of the new Hemerdon tungsten (and tin) mine .....


Zoomed view.


Walk details

MAP: Red = GPS satellite track of the walk.

© Crown copyright and database rights 2015.  Ordnance Survey. Licence number 100047373. Use of this data is subject to terms and conditions.
Also, Copyright © 2005, Memory-Map Europe, with permission.

Parking for the was at the Bowling Green car park, marked by the  P  symbol and the yellow cross on the map.

Distance - 4.63 km / 2.88 miles.

All photographs on this web site are copyright © 2007-2016 Keith Ryan.
All rights reserved - please email for permissions

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