Sunday, 03 July 2011
The Merrivale Complex
This weekend, Jon fancied a walk on Dartmoor. After some time spent deciding exactly where to go, we had a pleasant drive to Princetown. It took us a while to discover the start of our intended walk, but once we found the disused rail path, we had no further trouble!
We walked along the path, admiring the Dartmoor scenery, and passed by horses with foals, cows with calves, sheep, and goats. One horse huffed at us as we passed its pregnant friend, but other than that we had no trouble from them. We also met a cyclist heading the other way, who looked like he was having quite a bumpy ride!
Having reached King's Tor, we left the path, crossed a stream and aimed straight for our intended target: the Merrivale Complex.
We first reached the Merrivale Menhir. A few steps away is a stone circle, and further along in this direction are two stone rows (here's one), with a stream that looks like it has been diverted to a course between the two. There are also a number of cairns and hut circles, plus a kistvaen in the middle of one of the rows. It was incredible to walk around here, especially down the stone rows, and think about all the people through the centuries who had done the same. We wondered about the first people to have done so: who they might have been and why they built these beautiful monuments...
On our way back to Princetown, we discovered that the route we wished to take was extremely boggy, even despite the recent sunny, dry weather of the past week. To avoid getting our feet too wet, we instead followed upright stone markers that were put in place in the 17th Century (due to an Act of Parliament) to denote the route from Ashuburton to Tavistock. The letters "A" and "T" are clearly marked on opposing sides of the stone. These lead to Yellowmeade Farm, from where we walked amongst some more hut circles until we reached Foggintor Quarries (which I kept mispronouncing "Fogginator"). This used to be one of the largest granite quarries on Dartmoor, and is also the source of the granite for Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square!
We reached the disused rail path and returned along it to Princetown, passing the horses, cows, sheep and goats again. There was even a herd of cows walking along the path themselves - we felt it best to walk carefully around them when two young bulls turned around to glare at us! They kept their distance, though.
Having returned to our car, we then made our way to the Dartmoor Inn for a lovely dinner before returning home. :)