A Visit to Drivage Bottom

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There are many wide, often quite stony tracks that lead deep into the moor. This walk uses several of these but there is one section of open moor you will walk over which is easy and reasonably level, but you are heading for a point in the distance, so if visibility is very poor you will need a map and compass. Personally I don't walk out on the moor if it's poor visibility because for me the joys of the moor are the fabulous views and the vast open spaces.

Dartmoor has been used by farmers and miners for over 3,000 years. The walk starts by going past a medieval farm, then another farm that was around in the 15th Century. Leaving the main track we walk uphill to find a Bronze Age settlement of hut circles all enclosed by an almost circular stone boundary wall, a fascinating area well worth exploring. Note how several of the huts have a large stone erected upright on one side; was this the back of the fire? Leaving the hut circles we climb over the hill and down the other side to see the stone circle, standing stone and stone row, which is actually not very straight. We can only conjecture as to why and when these were built, but quite likely are of similar age to the hut circles. A little further on you will stand on a cairn to get your bearings. What you are standing on is a burial mound which has been excavated and back-filled so it now has a slight depression in the middle. Close by is another large enclosure bounded by stones.

Tin has been extracted from the ground for the best part of 500 years and having left the Bronze Age you will now walk through the spoil heaps left by the tin miners. A bit further on, Devonport Leat emerges from the hillside. If you make a short excursion by walking up over the hill you will see Nuns Cross Farm, where the leat disappears underground. We follow Devonport Leat, which was built in 1790 and is still used today to take water into Burrator Reservoir. As you approach Older Bridge, on your left is Drivage Bottom, a large area of disturbed ground where tin mining took place and which has left a huge scar in the landscape.

On the way back downhill passing ancient stone crosses that were waymarkers, we divert to see Crazy Well Pool. Legend has it that it is bottomless and that the bell-ropes of the local church tied together wouldn't reach the bottom. Well actually, its about 16ft deep. There are also several quite dark stories perhaps worth looking up before you set out.

Finally we walk past Leather Tor Bridge, a Grade 2 listed clapper-bridge built in about 1830. If you want to explore, go across the bridge and see the Elizabethan farmhouse a few yards further, where there is an information board. Between Waymarks 15 and 16 as you walk along the track on your right you come across a stile and steep path that leads on down to a tin workers' blowing house, where they ground up the tin ore and possibly smelted it here; well worth a look.

England - South West England - Devon - Dartmoor


Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Industrial Archaeology, Moor, River

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Distance away
8.7 Miles
21.1 Miles