Find your spirit of adventure on Dartmoor

Have you ever wanted to have a go at rock climbing? The National Trust has teamed up with Spirit of Adventure, an outdoor adventure activity provider, to give you the opportunity to try out rock climbing at one of Dartmoor’s natural beauty spots.

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 The rock adventure day takes place at the Dewerstone, near Shaugh Prior on Dartmoor; a perfect place for climbing, scrambling and the thrill of abseiling. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy a day out with friends or family as well as seeing some amazing scenery along the way.

 The session takes place on Tuesday 12 August, 10am–4pm. You will receive expert instruction from qualified instructors throughout the day and will have the opportunity to move on to more challenging sections if you are able. All the necessary equipment is provided.

 The day costs £30 per adult and £20 per child (under 18; minimum age is 8 years).  Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult who need not climb. Please bring a packed lunch, wear trainers, long trousers and sleeves.

 For more information and to book your place please contact Spirit of Adventure on 01822 880277.

Carry on Glamping

 

Last week the National Trust Dartmoor Rangers played host to pupils from local secondary school Torbridge High at Dewerstone Woods. Two groups spent a night under the stars (and the rain) in the NT Dartmoor Tepee. As part of Torbridge High challenge week the kids also scaled then abseiled the Dewerstone, made wildwood bows and arrows and braved a night walk! Character building was mandatory.

Improved access to the Dewerstone

Plym Valley Rangers and volunteers have been working on improvements to the footbridge over the River Plym at Shaugh Bridge. By re-hanging the access gate and removing the ‘step’ from the northern end, it is hoped that the access for all visitors to the Dewerstone will be improved.

The views from the top of the Dewerstone are well worth the 150ft climb from the car park.

New Forest visitors to the Upper Plym

The New Forest History and Archaeology Group have been visiting Dartmoor this week and as part of their planned activities spent Wednesday being guided around some of the important archaeological sites in the Upper Plym.

The morning walk with the Ranger was spent around the Dewerstone looking at the extensive industrial archaeology. Visits were made to the Ferro-Ceramic mine, Brogden and Casper’s Brick kiln and all of the China Clay Kiln workings.

After an enjoyable lunch in Meavy, and an appreciation of the impressive 800 year oak on the village green, the afternoon was spent on the sites around Trowlesworthy.

As well as looking at the late Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements, enclosures, stone rows, kists and cairns there was also time to study the evidence left behind from Trowlesworthy’s rabbit warrening history.

Bridge repairs at the Dewerstone

Visitors to the Dewerstone over the past couple of weeks will have noticed the appearance of scaffolding around the old granite tramway bridge. Stonemasons are currently restoring and repairing this 19th century archaeological feature.

The original intention of the bridge, and its associated embankment, was to join the tramway from the granite quarries to the east of the River Meavy with the South Devon Railway to the west. However, it is thought that the link was never completed as the landowner would not give permission for the project (NT Sites and Monuments Record, 2005)!

Can you guess what it is?

On entering the National Trust car park for the Dewerstone at Shaugh Bridge, you are confronted by a large stone building nestled in the hill side. For those you who aren’t aware of its past, this archaeological feature can turn your thoughts into an episode of “Time Team”, giving rise to questions like what, when and why? Further clues of its function, including a ceramic pipeline, a number of stone structures and spoil heaps, can be found along the south eastern side of the river Plym, between Cadover and Shaugh Bridge.

This network of infrastructure represents what was once a thriving China Clay Industry in south west Dartmoor, operating from around the 1870’s to the 1950’s. Starting further up the river Plym close to Cadover Bridge, china clay was extracted from pits at Shaugh Lake and Wigford down. The resulting clay suspension was then fed by pipeline down to a mica drag close to the village of Shaugh Prior. Here any sand particles were removed before the remaining clay slurry was piped down to settling tanks at Shaugh Bridge. The water was drained off and the china clay dried in the pan kiln, before being cut into blocks and transported up to Shaugh Bridge platform on the Tavistock to Plymouth railway line.

 

From the car park you can clearly see the loading bays at the front of the building, where blocks of clay were loaded onto carts. The pan kiln was situated on the level above these, with the large settling tanks located above the kiln. The steps on the right hand side of the building will lead you onto a footpath to Cadover Bridge, and offer you a chance to explore the upper levels of the china clay works.

 

Efforts to preserve such archaeological features are a regular occurrence in the Plym Valley Ranger’s annual calendar of work. Recently for example, a group of 26 student volunteers from the University of Plymouth, including members of the Student Union’s Musical Theatre Group and the Environmental Society, assisted with scrub clearance and vegetation removal from the mica drag near Shaugh Prior. A large pile of garden waste close by was also cleared thanks to their efforts.

 

Student volunteers clearing scrub in a highly efficient manner.

Student volunteers from the University of Plymouth inside the cleared mica drag.

 

Throughout the year we hold a number of archaeological guided walks in the Plym Valley, including some taking in the Shaugh Bridge China Clay Works. If you would like to know more please ring the Ranger team on 01752 341377.

 

To reach the site…

 

By Bike: Use National Cycle Network Route 27 from Plymouth. Leave the route at Shaugh Bridge platform on the right (SX 527 636). Follow the short stretch of road down to the small t-junction and turn left. Follow this road round to Shaugh Bridge. The NT car park is on the left immediately after the bridge over the River Plym.  Visit www.sustrans.org.uk or www.devon.gov.uk/cycling

 

By Bus: Target Travel Bus Route 59 stops right outside the NT car park at Shaugh Bridge. Buses run seven times a day, Monday to Saturday, between Plymouth, Plympton, Sparkwell, Bickleigh and Plymouth’s George P&R. Bus times available at www.transportdirect.info or http://targettravel.co.uk/59-plympton.html.

 

By Car: From the A38, exit at Manadon Junction and take the A386 towards Tavistock. At Bickleigh Cross (immediately after the Belliver Roundabout), turn right onto New Road (signposted Bickleigh, Shaugh Prior). Continue on this road through the village of Bickleigh and after passing the barracks, take the next left signposted Shaugh Prior, Wotter and Lee Moor. Follow this road for a couple of miles round to Shaugh Bridge. The NT car park is on the left immediately after the bridge over the River Plym.

 

Did you know….?

 

Did you know that the National Trust on Dartmoor now looks after West Down? This area of open moorland and mixed woodland lies adjacent to the village of Shaugh Prior, and was acquired by the Trust just over a year ago. Stunning views can be taken in from the highest point, including that of the Dewerstone and the Plym Valley all the way down to the City of Plymouth. There is great potential for the area to be managed for a variety of our native flora and fauna, including some rare Fritillary butterflies.

A view of the Dewerstone from West Down

You can reach West Down from Cadover Bridge by walking down river along the pipe track and through North Wood. Alternatively, you can come up from Shaugh Bridge, following the footpath that heads up behind the china clay kiln adjacent to the car park.

Long Term Volunteer Jonathan Noades with the new sign he and the team recently erected on the West Down border with North Wood.

 

Night Walk Goes With A Bang!

“Look at that one!” and “Wow!” were amongst the many sounds of admiration that could be heard on top of the Dewerstone last Tuesday evening (16th August). 26 visitors to the Plym Valley took half an hour to climb the steep slopes in order to enjoy a different perspective of the British Firework Championships, held in the City of Plymouth.

On reaching the top, many were pleased to find a boiling storm kettle to provide the thirsty climber with tea or coffee and a biscuit or two, along with some sparklers for the children. The event was a brilliant success with many hoping a similar event would be held next year. Watch this space!