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This walk: 2019-3-25 - Hound Tor, Swallerton Gate, Swallerton Gate or Swine Path Cross, granite trough, Jay's Grave, Crippon Rock, large crystals in granite, Cripdon Down, Cripdon Tor, logan stone, ladder stile, Blissmoor longhouse, Hayne Down Rocks, Bowerman's Nose, Moyle's Gate.

Walk details below - Information about the route etc.

Previous walks in this area 2nd July 2009 12th August 2009 and 7th May 2014   

Reconnaisance walks: 27th February 2019, 5th March 2019 19th March 2019   

Old maps:  OS 25-inch single sheet Surveyed 1883 Published 1885 - showing Swallerton Gate in the centre; follow the road to top-left (north-west) to find "Jane's" Grave; or follow the road/track north to find HAYNE DOWN on the right - Bowerman's Nose is among this lettering. 

Google Satellite map + GPS track of the walk 



Seat at the back of Swallerton Gate car park, modelled by chainsaw from a tree trunk (photo borrowed from 2018-4-25-Houndtor)


Looking at the combined colour and grain, I think the carving is all one piece of wood  (photo borrowed from 2018-4-25-Houndtor).


Hound Tor or Great Hound Tor, at SX 742 789, elevation 414 metres (1358 feet), across the road from Swallerton Gate car park, as opposed to Hound Tor or Houndetor at SX 6288 8903, elevation 495 metres (1624 feet) on the north moor, north-east of Knack Mine and Steeperton Tor.

The tor is on Houndtor Down which, while it is unenclosed and freely open to the public, is owned by three families and is not common land. But then, all land on Dartmoor is owned by someone, whether it is Common Land or not. Hound Tor is clearly an "avenue tor", where the central portion has been eroded to leave a central avenue running between the remaining piles - other examples are Bellever Tor, Haytor, Rippon Tor and Pew Tor.  In fact, there are several avenues through Hound Tor.  


Swallerton Gate - SX 738 791, this seems to be a recent corruption of "Swine Down Gate" ("Swine-a-down Gate", Hemery, p.726), which was the name used in Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor (p.297).  The road through it leads to Swine Down and, further on, to Kitty Jay's grave.  An old gate post can be seen on the left (see next photograph). Beyond, there is a cottage on the left, Swallerton Gate, formerly the Hound Tor Inn until 1840 and thought before that to have been the Green Dragon Inn, it was recorded as Swine Down Cottage in the 1851 Census (Source: Mike Brown, 7389 7915 and 737 796).  It is well-situated on the road between Ashburton and Chagford - two busy market towns.  It would also have been used by the inhabitants of Widecombe and Ilsington on their way to market.  There is an old cross in the garden wall of the cottage.  Source: Dave Brewer (2002), Dartmoor Boundary Markers, Halsgrove, p. 115. There are records that Thor Heyerdahl wrote at least part of The Kon-Tiki Expedition in the cottage  (Link 2).


Swallerton Gate gate post ..... with an iron gate hanger still in place .....


Swallerton Gate Cross - a mutilated medieval incised cross built into the garden wall in 1988 (Brewer, p.139). It was going to be used in the hardcore for the floor of the extension but an intervention pointed out that is was a medieval cross head. The intervention came from a passing Harry Starkey, a well-known Dartmoor guide to whom there is a memorial locally on the back of the replaced Duke Stone on the Ilsington Manor boundary at SX 74605 77305, close to Becka Brook. This could be the cross formerly known as Swine Path Cross, at what is now known as Swallerton Gate, that is mentioned in a description of the boundary between Chagford and Ashburton Stannaries that dates from the last meeting of a Stannary Court in 1786 at Crockern Tor, using a "Presentiments of the Bounds of the several Stannary Courts of Devon" dated 1613 (Brewer, pp.269-273).

Addendum: FH (Harry) Starkey (1987) Dartmoor's Crosses and Some Ancient Tracks, Revised Edition, pages 155-156, records that the cross was found in a nearby hedge in 1939 and was described by EN Masson Phillips in Transactions of the Devonshire Association, Vol. LX11 (1940) page 267.


... old Hound Tor Inn ...

Copyright - Image used by kind permission of the
Dartmoor Trust Archive
Online version of the image here


The cross can be seen a few inches to the right of the middle fence post.


Granite water trough across the road from the cottage.


View across Swine Down .....


Slightly more artistic attempt at a view of Swine Down, with a hay feeder.


The road to Jay's Grave .....


The loneliness of Kitty Jay .....

Because she committed suicide, Kitty Jay was buried in unconsecrated ground at an isolated crossroads, Four Cross Lane, probably before 1823 (see below) .....


The colour version, the grave that has been here for probably more than 200 years.


Jay's Grave, at SX 73238 79908.  Located at a crossroads (Google Map image) where Heatree Common lane (i.e. Natsworthy Gate footpath), through the gate behind the grave, crosses the Ashburton / Moretonhampstead & Chagford road. The lane continues as a footpath across Hayne Down to Gratnor and Great Houndtor farms, towards Moorhayes and Hayne. It is said that the local parishes of Manaton, Widecombe-in-the-Moor and North Bovey all refused to bury her body in consecrated ground because she had commited suicide.  In those times this was considered to be self-murder and therefore a mortal sin.  It is also said that burial at crossroads was chosen possibly as a warning to others and also to confuse the spirit or ghost of the departed so that they might not easily find their way back to where they had lived and be of nuisance to the living.  The Burial of Suicide Act 1823 did away with the requirement for crossroads burials. 

Devon & Dartmoor Historic Environment Record - MDV7489 Jay's Grave - one report in this record (by Beeson M, 2018) mentions Ann Jay, Kay, Betty Kay, an 1882 poem referring to Kay's Grave, and Betsy Kay. An eyewitness to the exhumation put her death to around 1780-1790.


The grave is often adorned with items left by visitors and usually has fresh flowers on it - this is believed to have been initiated by the local author, Beatrice Chase (see links below). There are several stories about Kitty Jay but very little is known as fact. 


There were a lot of tokens and good luck talismans during visits on 27th Feb. and 5th March - probably not from tourists at this time of year. 

Who was she? Her name has been recorded as Ann Jay (1851), Kay (an old woman, 1876), Betty Kay (1881), Kitty Jay (Crossing, Guide to Dartmoor, p.295, 1912), "J" (1914), Mary Jay (1934). She has also been recorded as "Jane" as in Jane's Grave.

The report by William Crossing says that on 25th January 1851, Mr. James Bryant of Hedge Barton had the grave opened after it was found by workers tidying the area. Bones were found that were confirmed by a visiting doctor to be those of a young woman. They were reburied in a wooden box and the stones were placed to form the grave as it is seen today.

Other notes:


Notes from a Dartmoor News article, Issue 135, Nov/Dec 2013, pp.39-41 .....

Reprinting a Widecombe History Group item that was told by Beatrice Chase in the Western Morning News on 3rd March 1934 .....

A Workhouse apprentice hired out by the parish to Barracott Farm, Manaton. Hanged herself in a barn at Ford Farm. A parish register that recorded Apprentices 1804-1840 contained the name of Mary Jay among them, as well as the names of witnesses, overseer and assenting magistrate. What Parish? What year??? The father of Mr Robert Nosworthy, born at Ford "exactly one hundred years ago" (written in 1934, therefore born 1834), always spoke of her as Mary Jay, as did his great aunt, a generation back. Original OS maps had it labelled as Jay's Grave but Mr John Kitson of Heatree had it changed to Jane's Grave.  His family agreed it should be reverted to Jay's Grave (1937-1961 1:25k Series). OS 25-inch 1885/1886. The adjacent single sheet map has Swallerton Gate marked as Swinedown Gate.   

The information above can be found in the following links .....


Crippon Rock, on Cripdon Down (vernacular: "Crippon" , Hemery p.724) ......


A closer look at Crippon Rock .....


..... with its two rock basins.


View to the summit rocks on Hayne Down. The pillar of Bowerman's Nose can just be seen about 1/5th way in from the left edge of the photograph, just breaking the skyline.


Beside the path to Cripdown Tor there is a large earthbound stone .....


This is granite with a wide variety of large crystals .....


An example of the large feldspar crystals  - these indicate that the rock cooled slowly after it was formed. It is probably plagioclase feldspar (ie of a family containing NaAlSi3O8 to CaAl2Si2O8 ) and usually white. The alternative would be an orthoclase feldspar (ie containing potassium KAlSi3O8 ) and usually pink. In granite, quartz crystals are usually greyish and translucent. My thanks to John Viant for this information. 


Looking ahead to the rocks of Cripdon Tor - the rock to the right of centre is said to be a logan stone (Hemery p.274) .....


A closer view.


This pile is hidden from view in the photographs above, a little to the right i.e. east.


Another view of the rocks on Hayne Down; Bowerman's Nose is in the centre of the photograph, just below the skyline ......


Zoomed view of Bowerman's Nose.


Ladder stile at SX 73608 80198, looking down the steep'ish, narrow footpath towards Bowerman's Nose, which can be seen on the skyline.


Highly-zoomed view of Bowerman's Nose from the stile, looking different to the classic view from this angle.


There is a very overgrown medieval longhouse at the bottom of the slope, with the lower end being at SX 73746 80258. The uphill left corner of the house is marked by the hawthorn tree with the rest of the house being in the right half of the photograph - it was difficult to photograph against the sun. The orientation is as it is in the diagram below: this is described by Jeremy Butler (1991), Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, Vol. 1 - The East, Map 21 - 5: Blissmoor longhouse (fig. 21.3), page 155 .....

 Image J Butler 1994. Reproduced by kind permission (ref. 29 Sept. 2012)

Devon & Dartmoor Historic Environment Record - MDV8816 Blissmoor longhouse and Enclosures


View ascending the slope to the south-west of Bowerman's Nose, SX 7410 8046.


Bowerman's Nose is the official logo of Dartmoor Preservation Association (founded 1883), first appearing on the October 1966 newsletter, Wikipedia link.


'Twas once good hunting land .....

The story of Bowerman is that many years ago he lived in the Manaton area and was a keen hunter. One day his hounds started a hare and he gave chase. He was so keen to catch the hare that he did not notice that the hounds had led him through a coven of witches, knocking over their cauldron. They were so incensed that they decided he must be punished. The next time he was out hunting, one of the witches transformed herself into a white hare - a highly prized trophy. She led him the merriest chase of his life until he was near exhaustion. Then she led him and his hounds back to this spot where the other witches were waiting. They turned him into a pillar of granite as punishment, right here, where he must gaze out for all eternity on his favourite hunting lands. His hounds ran in fear for their lives but the witches turned on them as well, turning them to stone on a nearby hill - which is known today as "Hound Tor".


A closer view of his features ..... 


Another view .....


Bowerman surveying the lands to the north-west towards North Bovey, overlooking the farms of Barracott, Canna and Ford that feature in the story of Kitty Jay.


The DPA Short Walks group at Bowerman's Nose. 


 Hayne Down rocks.  Click on the image to see a larger version.   


Haytor Rocks, SX 7573 7705, the highest point is 457 metres (1499 feet) which is on Low Man, the western pile, on the right in this photograph (not visible from the road).


Inset gatepost that houses the end of Moyle's Gate .....


Moyle's Gate, looking north.


Walking group at Moyle's Gate: Bowerman's Nose can be seen on the skyline above the people at the left of the group.


Swallerton Rocks, at SX 73878 79656 - or a field clearance cairn? Some of the rocks are approx. 4 x 4 x 1 ft which at approx. 1 cwt / cu.ft = 24 cwt or nearly 1 tons.


Alpacas, intent on not posing ...........


Never mind, here is an alpaca from Widicombe Fair in Sept. 2015, possibly from the same flock. Honeybag Tor behind the church tower, with Chinkwell Tor to the right.


'Tis one o' them long-legged, long-necked, white-faced Dartmoor sheep, caught at the end of the group walk - an alpaca.


A last look at Hound Tor.


Walk details

MAP: Red = GPS satellite track of the walk.

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


This walk was reached by following the  "Widecombe" sign from the A38 just past Ashburton, heading towards Exeter, via Owlacombe Cross, Halshanger Cross, turn right at Cold East Cross, left at Hemsworthy Gate after passing Rippon Tor on the right. Then, right at Harefoot Cross and on to the car park by Hound Tor, signed by the  P  symbol and yellow cross on the map.


Distance - 4.68 km / 3.68 miles


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