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This walk: 2012-2-1. Sourton Tors, East Tor, Church of St. Thomas a Becket, Lake viaduct, Great Nodden, boundary stone, triangulation pillar, Sourton ice works, Iron Gates, King Way, icicles.

Walk details below - Information about the route etc.


Early view to Sourton Tors, SX 543 898, elevation 440 metres (1443 feet) ..... also known as East Tor locally because it is east of the village (Sourton).


Closer view, with ice. This is not a granite tor but a dolerite formation (often found in dykes and sills)): it is a darker and finer grained igneous (from hot, molten) rock formed at the rim of the granite in this area.


Intrepid band crossing ice, heading south - it felt like we had already reached Antarctica.


A different view of the tor.


Zoomed view to Church of St. Thomas a Becket, Sourton - with tree neatly in the way - can't see a thing with LCD screens on digital cameras in bright sunlight - where's my viewfinder?!


Lake viaduct, max. zoomed photo possibly suffering from camera shake i.e. shivering.


Zoomed view to Great Nodden aka Plum Pudding Hill, SX 539 874.


Boundary stone at SX 54464 89516 between Bridestowe ("B") and .....


Sourton, "So" it looks like "9o".  This marked as BS on the map and is at the head of Deep Valley aka Withecombe Bottom. The stone is also known as Spring Rock.


Approaching Sourton Tors from a southerly direction (roughly SSE) .....


The triangulation pillar, with one face covered with (my guess) rime .....


Another view.


The highest point of Sourton Tor .....


Scaled by our intrepid tor-bagger!


Sourton ice works, based around SX 545 900, that is ice, not liquid water .....


Zoomed view .....


Standing, listening to the history, we got "the drift" of why it was used for making ice - it was bitterly cold. The story was that ice was made here 1875-1885. James Henderson, a civil engineer, saw an opportunity to supply ice for transporting fresh produce, such as fish, to markets as the railways were built. Ice machines did not exist at that time. There was a spring nearby to supply clean water and access to the railways via nearby Bridestowe station. The north-east facing slope was ideal .....

The temperature today? I remember seeing -2C on the car's external temperature indicator and the weather forecast gave winds averaging about 10 miles per hour. Calculating the wind chill for these conditions gives a feel of 13.9F or -10C. That's chilly!


Five long ponds, 3-feet deep, were dug and lined with brick. The ice was described as a "crop" of which there were a few good years but the venture was wound-up in 1886 after a few warm winters. There was also competition from machines and the Plymouth Ice Company.


Another view of the ponds.


As previous photo.


Our group gathered in the storage building that was once insulated with wood, soil and turf.       


Exposed rock (dolerite) seen at the right of the group in the previous photo .....


On a previous walk with a different guide, we were told these holes were made by the Rock Worm ..... the fascinating tale told of a locally bred worm that was trained to work in the starter holes in the rock, after being capped and swelling to build up pressure, eventually splitting the rock ..... it makes a change from the old, labour-intensive  "feather-and-tare" story, doesn't it?! The scientific name of the worm is believed to be Thomasius sobius


Two granite posts, The Iron Gates, marking the King Way ancient track. These are described by William Crossing (1912, reprinted 2001) Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor, Peninsula Press, Newton Abbot, page 59 (5th line from bottom) and page 184 (2nd para). This was a fast, moorland track used by the King's messengers, avoiding the rutted roads. Used widely in the 1700's. In 1630, there was a petition to Charles I to provide horses on the western stages of His Majesty's Post, the normal roads were muddy, twisty, enclosed and slow.


Unusual landcape feature, bumpy ground: is it underlying rocks (too regular?), frost "heave"? or vegtational, grass clumps etc? Probably not moles!


Icicles seen in a small stream near the end of the walk .....


As previous photo.


Walk details

MAP: Red = GPS satellite track of the walk.

Ordnance Survey © Crown copyright 2005. All rights reserved. Licence number 100047373.
Also, Copyright © 2005, Memory-Map Europe, with permission.


This walk was reached via the main A386 Tavistock-Okehampton road, turning off at the brown "Granite Way" sign shortly after leaving Sourton while travelling towards Okehampton, before reaching any other turn-off or the main A30 dual carriageway. Parking is at the yellow cross symbol on the map.


Distance - 5.1 km / 3.2 miles


All photographs on this web site are copyright ©2007-2016 Keith Ryan.
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