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This walk: 2013-6-27. Sourton Tors, paraglider, King Way, ice works, dolerite, triangulation pillar, Church of St. Thomas a Becket,  Great Links Tor, boundary stone, apple crusher, stone circle, black sheep, Meldon Reservoir, Meldon Viaduct, Snipe fly, Branscombe's Loaf, Shelstone Tor, wheatears, Black-a-Tor Copse NNR, Greep's Quarry, Vellake.

Walk details below - Information about the route etc.

Link to Google Satellite view of the area - including the recorded track of the walk (compare with the Ordnance Survey map plus track below)

Other walks in this area - 25 March 2009, 1 February 2012 and 5 June 2013.


Heading towards Sourton Tors, SX 543 898, elevation 440 metres (1443 feet), with aerial entertainment .....


Zoomed view .....


Two posts marking the King Way, this was a fast mail delivery route for several hundred years, using high, dry ground from the Exeter direction towards the west, with paraglider over Sourton Tors: 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..


Sourton Ice Works, remains of the office building and parts of the storage building that was once insulated with wood, soil and turf .....


Exposed rock (dolerite) .....


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  "feathers-and-tare" story, doesn't it?! The scientific name of the worm is believed to be Thomasius sobius


Another view of the old building .....


Man-made reservoirs, mostly lined with brick, were made along the contours to collect water that would freeze in the winter. 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 .


 Sourton Tors, with the paraglider .....          


The triangulation pillar.


"On a wing and a prayer", approaching the Church of St. Thomas a Becket, Sourton


Zoomed view.


Great Links Tor, SX 5511 8675, elevation 589 metres (1922 feet).


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


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


Okehampton, looking like "9�".  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.

Dave Brewer (2002) Dartmoor Boundary Markers, Halsgrove, p. 174 states: "North of the King Wall, and on the ancient King Way, south-west of Sourton Tors, there is another boundstone inscribed "90/B" i.e. "OP/B" for Okehampton and Bridestowe at SC 5449 8970 on the outer bounds of that common and situated between substantial old boundary banks, known as Iron Gates .........."


The stone in it's setting, right beside a long sunken lane(?), linear feature that is also the parish boundary, shown as a track heading north-east on the map from the apple-crusher .....;


An abandoned apple-crusher, at SX 54642 89599, probably because it was damaged. They were always made in two pieces(?) .....


View with Sourton Tors behind.


32-metre diameter stone circle, SX 54672 89578. There are 18 stones, 5.5 metres apart, all flat but mostly with one edge still embedded in the ground. Click on the image to see a larger version.


The black sheep of the family.


Zoomed view to Meldon Reservoir with Meldon Viaduct at top-left .....


Zoomed view.


Believed Snipe fly (Rhagio species - there are several) seen in June over several years now - they like me!


Great Links Tor.


Branscombe's Loaf, SX 55297 89123, with Black Tor (behind, low on the slope) and Yes Tor above .....


Branscombe's Loaf (a different link).


Meldon Reservoir and Viaduct, with cotton grass.


Another view of the loaf.


Part of Shelstone Tor, SX 557 898, elevation 400 metres (1312 feet) .....


Shelstone Tor.  Click on the image to see a larger version.


Looking up the West Okement River at Black-a-Tor Copse National Nature Reserve, an ancient relict sessile oak woodland .....


Zoomed view.


Shelstone Tor, rock with a "handle" .....


Overview of the rock.


Pair of Wheatears (female, left and male, right) with striking white rumps when they flew.


Rock formation.


Shelstone Tor, still.


Greep's Quarry,  at SX 551 899, that yielded slatey border rock that was used in Sourton village, in the Victorian vicarage and the Wesleyan chapel. The stone was removed by cart track to the village.


Looking down Vellake, a quite dramatic reentrant valley.


One of Snipe flies again! As I said, they like me.


The quarry.


Presumed gatepost seen somewhere near SX 5486 9052 .....


Complete with a hole through.


Walk details

MAP: 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.


Elevation Profile, starting at the left.
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 traveling towards Okehampton. Parking is at the yellow cross symbol on the map.

Distance - 6.55 km / 4.07 miles.


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