Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

EXPLORING BURRATOR WATERSHED – OLD RUINED FARMS, ONE SUBMERGED FARM, PLUS A LODGE, MANOR, COTTAGE AND AN INN

Steve Grigg and Frank Collinson

This post covers the watershed area of Burrator Reservoir and includes the valleys of Narrator Brook / Deancombe Brook, Newleycombe Lake and the Meavy. The aim of this post is to photographically record most of the dwellings (mainly ruined) which have frequented the area since the 14th century up until last century. There are 17 farmsteads contained in this post plus a manor and an old inn. Much of the information in this post has been gleaned from Dartmoor Historic Environment Record (HER) and “Exploring Around Burrator” by Paul Rendell.

Burrator Map
Burrator Reservoir watershed
Middleworth 1
Middleworth Farm. SX57208 69177. This is the first ruined farm up Narrator Brook (Deancombe Valley)
Middleworth 2
Middleworth Farm. SX57208 69177
Earliest reference 1281, abandoned by 1919.
Middleworth 3
Inside Middleworth Farm ruin. SX57208 69177
Middleworth map
Map from 1900
West Deancombe 1
The next farm along the track from Middleworth is West Deancombe Farm (with trough SX57934 68788)
West Deancombe 2
West Deancombe Farm main building SX57950 68792. It was known there were two farmsteads at Deancombe in 1582.
West Deancombe 3
West Deancombe, outbuilding SX57927 68810
Deancombe Map
Map from 1900 of the two Deancombe Farms
East Deancombe 1
East Deancombe Farm
East Deancombe 2
East Deancombe Farm. SX58021 68757 with local resident
East Deancombe 3
Two pillars for a grinding wheel. SX58043 68769
Outholme 1
Taking the track southwards between East and West Deancombe farms and crossing the Narrator Brook, Outholme Farm can be found. Abandoned around 1849. SX58028 68544
Outholme 2
Outholme Farm. Abandoned around 1849. SX58028 68544
Outholme Map
Location of farm in relation to Narrator Brook. There is also a lovely Blowing House between the brook and the farm ruins
Combeshead 1
Returning to Deancome Farms (West and East) and following the track up the valley past Cuckoo Rock we come to Combeshead Farm. First recorded mention around 1768 and abandoned in 1931.
Combeshead 2
Combeshead Farm. SX58558 68546
Combeshead 3
Was this the outside toilet at Combeshead Farm ? SX58551 68522
Combeshead 5
Outbuilding at Combeshead Farm. SX58561 68511
Combeshead 6
Underground store at Combeshead Farm? SX58569 68528
Combeshead 4
Potato Cave just up the track from Combeshead Farm. SX58640 68552
Combeshead 7
Inside the potato cave. Storage for root vegetables with a pleasant temperature regardless of the time of year.
Combeshead Map
Map from 1900
Newleycombe 1
Heading north from Combeshead Farm, passing Hingston Hill Stone Row, then dropping down into the Newleycombe Lake Valley we find Newleycombe Farm. First recorded 1584, abandoned around 1839. SX58764 69936. Down Tor can be seen in the above picture.
Newleycombe 2
Newleycombe Farm. First recorded 1584, abandoned around 1839. SX58764 69936
Newleycombe 3
This square feature in an enclosure wall, looked like it allowed water into the farmstead ? SX58777 69944
Newleycombe 4
Clapper below Newleycombe Farm over the leat that bypassed the farm. SX58820 69927
Newleycombe Map
Newleycombe is not named on 1900 map, but is easily located
Colliers 1
Moving west from Newleycombe Farm in direction of Crazwell Pool, we come to Colliers Farm. SX58252 70157. Abandoned by 1840. Paul Rendell describes the location as being between Newleycombe Farm and Crazywell farm at SX582 701. The Dartmoor HER describe this location as a longhouse associated with Crazy Well Farm. It is further stated that it is a medieval farmstead first documented in 1585. MDV104029
Colliers 2
Colliers Farm. SX58252 70157. Abandoned by 1840
Colliers Map
Location of the Longhouse / Colliers Farm
Crazywell 1
A short distance west from Colliers Farm we come to Classywell (Crazywell) Farm. First recorded 1565, abandoned 1914.
Crazywell 2
Classywell Farm with view to Down Tor and Sheepstor. Burrator reservoir just visible. SX58089 70046
Crazywell 3
Quern. SX58091 70041
Crazywell 4
Dog Kennel at Crazywell Farm. SX58078 70047
Crazywell Map
Mao from 1900 (Crazywell / Classeywell)
Kingsett 1
Just west of Crazywell Farm is Kingsett Farm. First recorded 1333, abandoned 1924. SX57666 69915
Kingsett 2
Kingsett Farm. First recorded 1333, abandoned 1924. SX57666 69915
Kingsett 3
Kingsett Farm. First recorded 1333, abandoned 1924. SX57666 69915
Kingsett Map
Kingsett Farm from1900
Roundy 1
North of Kingsett Farm. Entrance to Roundypark Farm. SX57853 70108
Roundy 2
Roundypark Farm. First recorded 1668, abandoned around 1841
Roundy 3
Roundypark Farm. First recorded 1668, abandoned around 1841 SX57807 70120
Roundy 4
Second building at Roundypark Farm. SX57787 70113
Roundy Map
Map from 1900, farm close to track heading from Norsworthy Bridge to Older Bridge
Riddipit 1
Riddipit Farm Longhouse. First recorded 1564, abandoned by 1871. SX56996 70083. Next to track between Norsworthy Bridge and River Meavy (near aqueduct)
Riddipit 2
Riddipit Farm Longhouse. First recorded 1564, abandoned by 1871. SX56996 70083
Riddipit Map
Map from 1900. There is a Blowing House close to the Riddipit Longhouse
Stanlake 1
Near Devonport Leat in the Meavy Valley is Stenlake Farm. First referenced 1281, abandoned in 1920’s. SX56930 70918
Stanlake 2
Another building at Stenlake Farm. SX56955 70917
Stanlake map
Stenlake (Stanlake) Map from 1900
Leather 1
Leather Tor Farm. First mentioned in 1362, abandoned in 1924. SX56677 69809
Leather 2
Leather Tor Farm. First mentioned in 1362, abandoned in 1924. SX56677 69809
Leather 3
Leather Tor Farm potato cave SX56718 69810
Leather 4
Inside the potato cave.
Leather 5
Vooga / fougou below Leather Tor Farm. SX56720 69769
Leather 6
Inside the vooga / fougou.
Leather Map
Map from 1900, complete with “fogou” location. The Rain gauge location can also still be found.
Norsworthy 1
Norsworthy Farm. First recorded 1384, abandoned after 1891. SX56831 69486
Norsworthy 2
Norsworthy Farm. First recorded 1384, abandoned after 1891. SX56831 69486
Norsworthy Map
Map from1900. The farm is just up the track from Norsworthy Bridge
Narrator 1
Near the base of Sheepstor. Part of Narrator Farm at SX56705 68777
Narrator 2
Part of Narrator Farm from slightly different angle at SX56705 68777
Narrator 3
Part of Narrator Farm at SX56730 68737. Farm was last used in 1923.
Narrator 4
Raised platform, presumed part of Narrator Farm at SX56728 68733
Narrator Map
Map from 1900
Redstone 1
Heading towards Sheepstor (Dam / Village) from Narrator Farm, we come to Redstone Farm Building #1 at SX55865 68201
Redstone 2
Redstone Farm Building #1. Built in the 18th Century. The first owner was a John Collier, who let a Mr John Atwell live there.
Redstone 3
Redstone Farm Building #2 at SX55840 68238
Redstone 4
Redstone Farm Building #2. The last tenant was in 1891.
Redstone Map
Location of Redstone Farm and Park Cottage Inn
Park Cottage 1
Foundations at Park Cottage, now used as a car park. Two cottages were built here in 1840s. During the construction of Burrator Reservoir in 1890s it was decided to turn the cottage into a pub. It had 8 rooms and was run by Josias Nelder. It was known as Park Cottage Inn. The car shown in the picture is was dug out by the landlord as a lay-by to encourage visitors from Plymouth.
Park Cottage 2
More foundations of Park Cottage Inn. Its water supply came from old Longstone leat. Plymouth corporation tried to buy it in 1924 and eventually closed it down in 1930 as it had drainage problems (it was polluting the reservoir)
Park Cottage 3
The Park Cottage Inn. SX55898 67957
Vinneylake 1
On the northern side of Burrator Reservoir, next to a Bus Stop lies Vinneylake Farm. This is one of two obvious raised platforms at the site. First reference of a farm here was from 1585.
Vinneylake 2
Another angle of the raised platform at Vinneylake Farm at SX56226 69336
Vinneylake 3
Another part of Vinneylake Farm
Vinneylake 4
Area where farm building was located. I am led to understand that the Farm was last used in 1926.
Vinneylake 5
Another part of the farm at SX56240 69336
Vinneylake 6
This view of the farm is the one most recognisable as it’s right next to the modern road and bus turning bay.
Vinneylake Map
Map from 1900

And now to Longstone Manor / Farmhouse, located on the peninsula jutting out into Burrator Reservoir. The first dwelling on this site is believed to have been built in mid-13th century, by the Herbert family. It was rebuilt in 1633 by Walter Elford and his wife Barbara. Their son John (of Piskies cave fame) had the windstrew built. It reverted to a modest farmhouse by mid-18th century , occupancy included, William Smith and the Creber family. It remained a farmhouse until it was abandoned in 1898, as the reservoir was built.

Longstone 1
Longstone Manor / Farmhouse
Longstone 2
Longstone Manor / Farmhouse. The wall stabilisation took place in 2014, with the help of lottery funding.
Longstone 3
Longstone Manor / Farmhouse
Longstone 4
John Elfords Windstrew
Longstone 5
John Elfords Windstrew
Longstone 6
Steps on the side of the windstrew
Longstone 7
Cider press and granite troughs. Apparently, there used to be 14 granite artefacts here, but many have been stolen – very sad.
Longstone 8
Semi – Submerged trough
Longstone 9
Memorial bench. SX55627 68451
Longstone 10
When the water level recedes, following this wall around to the right, leads to a well (see next picture)
Longstone 11
Picture from early 20th century.
Longstone and Essworthy Farm Map
Location of Longstone Manor / Farmhouse with approx. location (blue dotted line) of reservoir (which does extend northwards beyond what is shown). The only farm which was actually submerged as a result of the flooding of this valley was called Essworthy. This farm and the Longstone estates were merged in 1893. It was last used in around 1898. Plymouth Corporation were the last owners of Essworthy.
Essworthy
Estimated location of Essworthy.
Burrator Lodge 1
Burrator Lodge was built in 1895 by Plymouth Corporation. The lodge stands on the site of once was Mullacroft Farm and was built as a replacement for the Head Weir Cottage, which was the accommodation for the Plymouth Leat Foreman.
Burrator Lodge 2
Side on view (from the north) of the lodge. Amos Shillabeer (Plymouth Leat Foreman) and his wife lived at Head Weir Cottage before moving to Burrator Lodge. They lived here until 1898.
Burrator Lodge 3
View of the lodge from the south. Amos Shillabeer’s son became the foreman of the newly completed Burrator Reservoir. Members of the Shillabeer family lived here until the 1940’s. Today the lodge is a private dwelling.
Mullacroft Map
Not far from Burrator Lodge and virtually opposite the Burrator Discovery Centre is a narrow lane, which climbs the hill towards the Yennadon Down / Lowery Cross Car Park. A short distance up the hill are the foundations of Mullacroft (Mullicraft) Cottage.
Mullacroft 1a
Mullacroft (Mullicraft) Cottage at SX55125 68715. A Harry Legassick was believed to have been the last occupant of the cottage. He was jobbing-carpenter and a mason.
Mullacroft 1b
Inside Mullacroft Cottage. The outer wall abuts the narrow lane.
Mullacroft 2a
A short distance from the main Mullacroft Cottage is an outbuilding at SX55115 68746. The walls are just about discernable.
Mullacroft 2b
Mullacroft Cottage outbuilding looking north
Higher Lowery Map
The map of Higher Lowery shows there were at least two buildings and two other “structures”. It was built in 1807 as a leatman’s cottage by the Dock (Devonport) Water Company and was occupied until 1922. Devonport Leat is a few metres away to the south.
HL 1
This view is close to the stream on the west side of the site. The standing stone and blocks appear to occupy the area shown on the map with two rectangles, which the author believes may have been a yard.
HL 2
Amongst the ruins of the two rectangle blocks (in the yard) is an iron pipe. On the Dartmoor HER (MDV20614), this pipe is mentioned as leading to a trough. Located at SX55773 69454. There are clay shards at this location as well
HL 3
View of the yard (?) from the south. SX55778 69449.
HL 4
The main building location. No discernible foundations remain
HL 5
Building 2 is next to the road and some foundations can be picked out. SX55789 69447
LL Map
This is named as Higher Lowery on the Tithe Map and the farm complex dates from the medieval period. However, when the new Higher Lowery was built this became Lower Lowery
Barn 1
Lower Lowery Barn now known simply as Lowery Barn. There is a very good information panel located on site. It is a type known as a chamber barn. There was a Shippen below (for cattle) and a Threshing Floor above. This view shows a lean-to stable which was added in 1876.
Barn 2
The barn was built in 1873 and on the south wall (this view) there is a date stone and a stone with “ML” on it. ML standing for Massey Lopes from the Maristow Estate. The barn corner is SX55620 69239.
Barn 3
Inside the barn, which was quite ruinous until 2014, when a roof was put on it to stabilise the walls as there was a lot of water ingress into them. The roof funding was provided by the heritage lottery fund. It is being used a a forestry store
Barn 4
ML stone. The barn stood on Sir Massey Lopes land
Barn 5
1873 date stone.
Lowery 1a
Building 1 foundations at SX55680 69207
Lowery 1b
Another view of Building 1 foundations at SX55680 69207
Lowery 2a
Building 2 foundations at SX55625 69221 with the barn behind
Lowery 2b
Building 2 foundations at SX55625 69221 close up yields and old iron bar (origin unknown)
Lowery 3a
Building 3 foundations at SX55613 69243. Little can be seen here and a little interpretation of the map in relation to the barn is needed
Lowery 3b
Another view of the building 3 foundations at SX55613 69243.
Lowery Farms Map
The map from late 19th century shows the buildings at Higher Lowery and Lower Lowery (the original “Higher” Lowery), plus one other building to the south which was the original “Lower” Lowery.
Orig LL1
According the Dartmoor HER (MDV20621), the site of the original site of Lower Lowery was destroyed when the road around the reservoir was made. By looking at side-by-side the site of the building appeared to be south of the road, so an exploration was warranted. This wall appears at SX55552 69062 – was this part of the original farm, maybe some field walls ?
Orig LL2
Another view of the wall at SX55552 69062

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