This site preserved by Simon Avery, Digital Dilemma in 2022 as part of Archiving Dartmoor

Previous walks      Weather     Links    
Search Dartmoor CAM

#htmlcaption #htmlcaption #htmlcaption #htmlcaption #htmlcaption #htmlcaption #htmlcaption #htmlcaption #htmlcaption #htmlcaption


This walk: 2017-1-25. Bal Mine, Norsworthy Bridge, County stone, Drill testing stone, Norsworthy Farm, 1841 stone, Norsworthy tinners' stamping mill, fougou, Leathertor Bridge, Riddipit Steps and ford, Riddipit Gert and adit, Keaglesborough Mine, wheel pits, Raddick Lane, Crazywell Pool, Crazywell Cross, abandoned mill stone, Roundypark Farm, broken mortar stone, feather and tares stone.

This was the first in the new programme of free short walks offered by Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA), the Friends of Dartmoor organisation.

Walk details below - Information about the route etc.

Previous walks in this area: 22nd August 2008, 16th October 2012 24th April 2013 (recce), 26th June 2013 (fougou),  22nd October 2014 (for notice & whim stone),  23rrd June 2016, and 22nd September 2016 (for Bal Mine wheelpit) 

Google Satellite map + GPS track of the walk 

Old map
Ordnance Survey, Six-inch to the mile, 1st edition - 1888-1913
ou should see the end of Burrator Reservoir at bottom left and Crazywell Pool at top right (under its old name of Clasiwell Pool). Norsworthy Bridge is shown but not the modern road.


Remains of the Bal Mine wheelpit, now largely filled-in. Behind it is the earth bank that brought the leat that carried water to drive the wheel. The tailrace can be found just left of the bottom corner of the photograph, across the track into the car park. The waterwheel would have been an "overshot" wheel, by virtue of the water running over the top of it before falling on the paddles. The mine should not be confused with Wheal Bal Tin Mine, St. Just, Cornwall.


More of an overview of this part of Bal Mine, the flat areas were no doubt ore dressing floors. To the right of the wheelpit, in the corner of the boggy area, is a covered tunnel that took rods for pumping out the pits / shafts behind this area. This area has quite extensive openworks and shows signs of possible streaming activities as well.

Bal Mine smelting house, wheel pit, flue above the ruined furnace, compares with the smelting house at Eylesburrow Mine, on the right. bank of the Thrushel Comb. Source: Eric Hemery (1983), High Dartmoor, Robert Hale, London, page 14 .....


Whim stone for the base of a horse-drawn whim (winding wheel) - at centre bottom (stone with a "hole"). ..... also called a "mellior" stone. Sources: Phil Newman (2017), Mining for tin on Dartmoor in the eighteenth to twentieth centuries: The landscape legacy.  In "The tin-working landscape of Dartmoor in a European context: Papers presented at a conference in Tavistock, Devon", edited by Phil Newman, Dartmoor Tin-working Research Group, p.41.  Also, on the Mine Exploration Forum.


Recently erected sign as part of the Burrator Heritage Project. Click the image to see a larger version.


Newleycombe Lake, between the two separate car parks areas, the brook on the map between the River Meavy and Narrator Brook which is further around the tip of the reservoir.


Drill testing stone in the track from Norsworthy Bridge up to Norsworthy Farm.  It is about 12 paces from the big tree between the start of the track and the car park, just left of centre going up the slope.  It is produced by testing the sharpness of chisels or drills and suggests that there was a blacksmith's "shop" in the area.


The ruins of Norsworthy Farm. There is a stile where the fence posts begin ..... and the track that leads to Leathetor Bridge and beyond .....


Norsworthy Farm,  first recorded as Northisworthi in 1384, abandoned between 1891 and 1894. Once an imposing medieval longhouse running downslope. Photographed by Robert Burnard in in the 1890s - the lower end is lost. Across the track, cart shed or mentioned cottage? There are two dated stones nearby: (1) on a small island in the River Meavy, bearing 1841 and (2) on a large upright stone behind the buildings, bearing 1841 (or is it 1801? - not found for this walk) ......



Showing and old photograph of the farm, a longhouse .....


The "V" on both  photographs here indicate Leather Tor. The trees have changed. The photograph can be seen on Dartmoor Archive, taken in October 1894.
.Link to the HER - Historic Environment Record for details.


"Nosworthy".   Photographed by Robert Burnard, Oct. 1894.  The site was deserted by this time.  Photograph used by kind permission of The Dartmoor Trust Archive (ref. S.B. email 13 Feb. 2017).  


This large stone in the river (Meavy) can be reached via the stile in the first farm photograph above, or simply seen from the second fence post after the stile .....


1841 - probably incised by W. Folland, a mason, who was paid 18.3s.9d for repairs to the buildings, as recorded in the Walkhampton manorial rolls. He was one of four men paid for work but he was the only mason. Source: Mike Brown's CD Guide to Dartmoor, section 56796950.


To reach this old tinner's stamping mill, go about 50 meters up the track (which is Norsworthy Lane) from the car park at Norsworthy Bridge (far end of Burrator Reservoir from the dam) towards Crazy Well Pool. Turn left at the junction and look for the second stile (GPS location: SX 51782 69600 ą 5 meters) on the left after about 110 meters. The River Meavy runs right alongside the site. The unusual stone with a long slot in it can be seen left of centre in the photo above. Four  mortarstones on the floor near the slotted stone. These bear depressions from where the stamps ground the tin ore prior to smelting, probably at another site. Other mortarstones are in this area, including in the river.


Figure reproduced from Devon Archaeology No. 3 - Dartmoor Issue, 1985 reprinted 1991, page 33,
by kind permission of Dr. Tom Greeves and Devon Archaeological Society.

We entered the mill from the bottom of the plan. The numbered stones are double mortarstones resulting from a pair of rising and falling iron stamps that were driven by the waterwheel.


A closer view of the mortarstones with the slotted stone behind - this may have been part of the attachment of the stamps. When a mortarstone was worn down to a certain level, it could be turned and used anew, which resulted in four depressions.


Stone with an incised recess in the wheelpit wall that probably housed one of the wheel's bearings.


A long-dead tree lying across the River Meavy.


 Playing the game of "Hunt the Fougou" - looking across the valley, over the River Meavy to Leathertor Farm (at top of the photo), showing the location of the fougou - the hole in the bank below the white V .....


The fougou (Cornish for "cave" or vooga in "Devon") at SX 56721 69774: a tinners' cache, dug into a bank where they would keep tools overnight to save carrying them long distances. It is located directly below Leathertor Farm (and its public path signpost - visible above, against a tree) and can be viewed from the Norsworthy Bridge-to-Leather Tor Bridge track at SX 56772 69746.


Photograph taken by holding the camera inside the fougou. note the construction with slabs of granite forming the roof.


Leather Tor Bridge, at SX 56885 69960. Walkhampton Parish Council decided on 20th June 1833 to build a bridge over Riddipit Stream (nowadays, the River Meavy) at this spot (this is the site of the Riddipit Steps stepping stones crossing place). At the next meeting the following month (25th July) it was resolved to accept a tender from George Worth and Wm. Mashford for 26.10s. The seven stepping stones of the old Riddipit Steps are still to be seen, four in situ and three displaced by floods. Alongside the steps is the even older ford. Source: Eric Hemery, High Dartmoor, page 126. Apparently, this was the last clapper bridge to be built on Dartmoor (Johnies Meanderings, 20th August 2012).


Leather Tor Bridge (right, 1832/1833), the old ford (Bronze Age? centre) and Riddipit Steps (stepping stones) that are probably Medieval e.g. 1564, the age of Riddipit Farm (not far way).


The structure of the bridge can be seen clearly here: it has essentially three vertical piers and two sets of imposts forming the deck. It is unusual perhaps in that it has parapets on each side.


Looking down Riddipit Gert towards Leather Tor ..... a gert is a long opencast digging made by tinners following a lode of tin ore up from a river valley or sometimes from trial pits on a hillside .....


Zoomed view to Leather Tor ( Lether Tor or Lodertorre, SX 563 700, elevation 380 metres/1246 feet).


Three photos from 23rrd June 2016  because the shadows were too dark on the reconnaissance walk for these photos .....

Wheel-pit (filled-in), at SX 57286 70091, looking down the slope, below the main wheel-pit of Keaglesborough Mine (next photograph).

Hemery (p.128) discusses the whereabouts of a blowing house in this area "This enclosure, overplanted and above the head of Riddipit Gert, is north of the Raddick-Norsworthy Lanes junction; the relics it contains confirm the documentary evidence that Keaglesborough blowing house was situated here rather than at the riverside". Somewhere around SX 57365 70073? Could it be the photograph above, it is in the same area? It can also use the tail race water from the main water wheel that probably drove the stamps to crush the ore?


Keaglesborough Mine main wheel-pit, looking up the slope, at SX 57375 70116 ..... the only known date for the mine is it's closure in 1810 (Hemery, p.128).


As previous photograph, looking down the slope ..... showing the tail race running towards the smaller wheel-pit.



Right of the tree stump, looking down the leat bank that took water to the big water wheel, it was ducted from the leat to the wheel by a wooden launder.


At the top of Raddick Lane, looking out onto the open moor, heading east towards Crazywell Pool.


Crazywell Pool, a large hole dug out by tinners - it may have functioned as a reservoir for sending water down the nearby gert ..... we had the stories about the pool being bottomless when tested using Walkhampton church's bell ropes, of the level rising and falling with the tide at Plymouth, of young maidens looking into the pool on a certain evening and seeing the face of their intended and of the dread of hearing your name being called in the gloaming!


An attempt at an "arty" photograph (I haven't finished the evening classes yet!) .....


Looking west, with Leather Tor (left) and Sharpitor (right).


Crazywell Cross, probably a way-marking cross along the Monks' Path between Buckfast Abbey and those at Tavistock and Buckland .....


At Crazywell Cross, twenty-one of us including the photographer, plus two guys peeled off down the gert as they were only intending to be with us for half of the walk.

My thanks to Active Dartmoor, Facebook - Active Dartmoor, Twitter @activedartmoor and Visit Dartmoor for their support on social media in publicising these walks.


Dartmoor pony passing by.


Abandoned mill stone, at SX 57960 70125, about 40 metres above the track that is known as Uncle's Road, and within sight of Cockle's Gate (the moor gate at the top of the lane from Norsworthy bridge.


Closer view.


Extreme left, Cockle's Gate. To the right edge, a previously blocked gateway into Roundypark Farm ..... from Cockle's Gate the newly-cleared blowing house of Kingsett Mine can be seen ......


The farm gate .....


A view of the ruined farmhouse, there is a lintel inscribed 1668 which probably marks the start of the farm.  It was abandoned in 1841. Source: Paul Rendell (2007), Exploring Around Burrator - A Dartmoor Reservoir, The Dartmoor Company, Okehampton, page 57.


Inside the main house, note the lintel bearing holes, see next photograph .....


A window lintel .....


Gateway, on a cold morning .....


Two recesses built into a wall, of unknown function .....


Maidenhair spleenwort, Asplenium trichomanes, a lime-loving fern growing in the cracks in the wall between the blocks, attracted by the mortar holding the blocks together .....


Close-up view.


Broken double-stamp mortarstone beside the track at SX 57507 70025.


Tare and feathers stone, beside the track at SX 56990 69490, where someone drilled the stone and inserted sets of feathers, separated by hammering in a tare (metal chisel piece) to apply steady pressure until the rock cracked, which it did in part .....


Section of cracked rock and a row of holes that were not split along .....


Abandoned feathers and tare .....


As above.  Link to a page about splitting granite; another page with photos

Click HERE to see a 160MB, 17-minute video of the process of splitting granite.

Click HERE to see a smaller, poorer resolution, 64 MB version (45 seconds to download e.g. on BT Broadband) - this is best seen as a small image.

The split comes at 16:37 minutes!


Norsworthy Bridge.


An unusual feature, the letter "C" inscribed on a boulder (towards the front left area where the moss is removed) instead of on a proper "boundary" stone, at SX 56689 69346, signifying a County stone, 100 yards from the end of the bridge. These date from the Bridges Act 1803 (see down the article) which included: " ..... namely, the 'County Surveyor' of the County responsible for the upkeep of subject bridges, and the roads over them for 100 yards past the ends of the bridge ....." Prior to this, bridges were subject to the Bridges Act, 1530 and several others that have come and gone. The "C" stones must date from 1803 Act. Those on Dartmoor are listed on Legendary Dartmoor - The County Stones Earlier, bridges were often looked after by the monasteries, but this changed after Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries (1536-1541).


Closer view.


Walk details

MAP: Red = GPS satellite track of the walk.

Crown copyright and database rights 2016  Ordnance Survey Licence number 100047373
Also, Copyright 2005, Memory-Map Europe, with permission.


This walk was reached by driving from Yelverton to Dousland, turning right beside the Burrator Inn towards Meavy, and then left on passing the last house, over the cattle grid to the far end of the reservoir. Do not go over the dam. Two car parks are indicated by yellow crosses on the map.


Distance - 5.01 km / 3.11 miles






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