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This walk: 2012-8-29. Warren House Inn, heather, mine shaft, Vitifer Mine, carpenter's shop, Redwater Brook, Birch Tor Mine, mine captain's house, privy, great mullein, Birch Tor, Golden Dagger Mine, teasel, white heather, reindeer moss (lichen), gert, Soussons Wood, Birch Tor and Vitifer Mine Leat, chamomile, eyebright.

Walk details below - Information about the route etc. The weather on this walk was very wet so the photographs are not the best!

Link to Google Satellite view of the area - where the track forms a loop to the north, the Birch Tor Mine is just beside the track to the east and the Vitifer Mine is across the track and about 100 yards south. Golden Dagger Mine can be found by following the track to the south to near the corner of a wood. Where the track has a branch due west, the mine is beside the track on the north side.



Looking from King's Oven car park towards Postbridge and the Warren House Inn. Somewhere across the road, near the tree, once stood Bawden's Bungalow, also marked as King's Oven Bungalow on an old Ordnance Survey map. Across the road from the Warren House Inn stood an earlier public house and a rabbit warren to help feed the miners.


The purple of the heather, mostly common ling.


On the east side of the track is an old capped mine shaft.


Another look at the heather.


Vitifer Mine carpenter's shop, at approx. SX SX 6817 8096. The miners' "dry" (for drying wet clothes) can just be seen at the right edge of the photograph .....


Another view of the ruins of the carpenter's shop, beside the Redwater Brook. This valley has produced tin for at least 800 years. 


Zoomed view of the carpenter's shop.


Clapper bridge over Redwater Brook with the miners' dry beyond .....


Closer view of the Vitifer Mine miners' dry.


More or less across the track - Birch Tor Mine, this being the ruin of the mine captain's house. By the 1820s, ore was being sent to Eylesbarrow for smelting. The mines were profitable in 1834 but conditions for the 100 employees plus women and children were wretched. There was a decline up to 1913 when all work stopped (WW1?).


The privy - not just for the mine captain because there was an old "secret path" (on a map) from the mine office to the privy. There was also a "house" nearby.


Plant in or near one of the old buildings, Great or Common Mullein, Verbascum thapsus ..... (hover your mouse over the left-column options to preview other images) .....


Closer view .....




Birch Tor, SX 687 814, elevation 487 metres (1574 feet) .....


Zoomed view of Birch Tor.


A hole in the ground, from subsidence? Not in the right sort of place to be an adit?


More purple heather.


This is the main track, normally a good dry one but today it was a stream .....


Closer view of the track.


Wall between Headland Warren (on left) and Challacombe Down (on right), apprently rabbit-proof .....


Zoomed view.


Ruined building to do with Golden Dagger Mine - another miners' dry. The mine may have been named after a dagger being found in the four cairns in Soussons Wood ("Tumuli" at the bottom of the map below) or possibly in old stream-works. The name was in use in the 1850s, before a gold-studded pommel was found on Hameldown in 1872. The mine closed in 1930 after a fall in the price of tin. 


Teasel, Dipsacus fullnonum, growing inside the building (hover your mouse over the left-column options to preview other images).


Looking ahead from the Golden Dagger Mine, a track through Soussons Wood. The forest is part of the government's post-war plan to produce timber. There are moves to plant mixed native trees at the edges of these coniferous monocultures so to soften their visual impact on the landscape.


Rare specimen of white heather (common ling) among all the purple, actually growing on the path.


Gert crossed after leaving the wood, half-way back to the car park, looking east .....


Looking west.


"Reindeer moss", actually a lichen, Cladonia portentosa .....


Closer view - another link (all images).


Birch Tor and Vitifer Mine Leat.


Chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile.


An Eyebright (Euphrasia), not sure what species but probably not confusa, Common (nemorosa), arctica, probably the Slender Heath Eyebright (Euphrasia micrantha) judging by the small, narrow leaves? The leaves are shown in the next photograph ..... (hover your mouse over the left-column options to preview other images) .....    

The Euphrasia link above gives images of several unidentified eyebrights - if my email friend, David Fenneck, who runs the flower web site can't identify them then, boys and girls, I sure as heck won't be doing it!


The eyebright leaves, not very wide.  


Warren House Inn.


The famous three rabbits sign, beloved of tinners but also frequent in medieval times in Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Hindu contexts as three hares, dating possibly from Chinese Buddhism, AD 600-700. The sign occurs in eleven Dartmoor churches when tin miners' money paid for church refurbishments.

The story of the three hares, rather than three rabbits is a long one. It is discussed at length on the Legendary Dartrmoor web site's The Tinner's Rabbits page:

"Ok, let's look at where the three hares can be found,  most of the old examples are in churches, in Devon there are 28 in total of which 19 are of a possible medieval origin and of these 12 are on or very near Dartmoor. All are carved wooden bosses and are located in the roof. There are 2 examples which appear on plaster ceilings of private houses and a modern example of a stained glass window which is located in the door of the tinners bar at the Castle Inn in Lydford." 


From the Warren House Inn, four enclosures (marked by red flags) may be seen as used by warreners. Apparently the southern-most one was used for growing vegetables and the others were used for growing feed for the rabbits bred by the warreners for meat for the tinners. There were several mines in the vicinity and the Warren House Inn is another indication of mining and warrening activity. The story of these fields is told by John Hayward (1991, reprinted 2009), Dartmoor 365, Curlew Publications, page 152. I remember seeing them clearly on a day when there was snow on the ground, back in 1979 or 1980. The legend concerns Jan Reynolds being plucked from the church at Widecombe by the Devil for playing with a pack of cards during the Sunday sermon and carrying him off - he dropped the four aces as they went across the sky and they landed as these four enclosures!


Walk details

Red = GPS satellite track of the walk.

© Crown copyright and database rights 2012  Ordnance Survey Licence number 100047373
Also, Copyright © 2005, Memory-Map Europe, with permission.


This walk was reached by driving from the Tavistock / Two Bridges direction via Postbridge towards Moretonhampstead on the B3212 and parking 200 metres past the Warren House Inn, at the the  P  symbol with the yellow cross on the map.


Distance - 4.64 km / 2.88 miles.



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