Dartmoor Explorations

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

PERAMBULATION OF THE FOREST OF DARTMOOR (CULLEVER STEPS TO RATTLEBROOK FOOT)

Steve Grigg

The full Perambulation of the Forest of Dartmoor is around 50 miles. This post covers one leg (or around 20% of the route). The perambulation is being completed for the fourth time by the author as part of the 780th anniversary (1240-2020), having first completed it in 1990 (750th Anniversary). Each of the previous three perambulations were completed in a clockwise direction, this one being anti-clockwise.

The story of the Dartmoor Perambulation starts with King John in May 1204, when in a desperate attempt to raise funds for an army to for a war with King Phillip of France, he gave up his rights in Devon but retained the highlands of Dartmoor. It is believed it raised 5000 marks for the crown. In those times the term “forest” in this context was crown land, reserved for hunting comprised trees, turf and vegetation, where hunting would have included deer, hare, rabbit, pheasant, boar, wolf, fox, martin, partridge, quail, heron and mallard. The boundary was important as revenue could be derived from activities within the forest. King John failed (as with Saxon and Norman tradition) to order a “perambulation” to seal the boundary lines. However, in spite of this, it was not until his son, King Henry III came to the thrown that the first perambulation of Dartmoor was secured, this was in 1240. The perambulators completed their task on the 24th of July who were: William Brewer, Guy Breteville, William Wydeworthy, Hugo Bellay, Richard Gyppard, Odo Treverbyn, Henry the son of Henry, William Trenchard, Phillip Parrer, Nicholas Heamton, William Moreleghe and Durant the son of Boton.

The original 1240 perambulation was written in medieval latin and was subsequently open to interpretation for a few centuries. In 1608/9, a major attempt was made to clarify the boundary and later when OS mapped Dartmoor in 19th century, they relied on locals to define the boundary.  Both these boundaries are shown in this post, however, the 1608/9 boundary is the one that most modern “perambulators” follow.

Note: The source of information for the above has been from a) Dartmoor’s Greatest Walk by Bill Ransom (1987)  – Devon Books and b) Dartmoor’s Greatest Long Distance Walk by Roland Ebdon (2016) – Halsgrove.

PS1 - Map
The route from Cullever Steps to Rattlebrook, adapted from the Bill Ransom publication. It respresents approx 20% of the full perambulation circuit.
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The two OP B markers at Cullever Steps.
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Close up of the larger (newer) stone. OP B stands for Okehampton Parish Bounds
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Smaller (older) of the OP B stones
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The wide expanses of the open moor, showing the three tors on the route; Row Tor, West Mill Tor and Yes Tor
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View from the top of Row Tor, looking towards West Mill Tor
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View looking south from Row Tor. In the foreground is the target railway, in the middle distance is East Mill Tor and on the horizon (top left) is Steeperton Tor
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An Army Bergen with no soldier attached to it, between Row Tor and West Mill Tor
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Climbing to West Mill Tor then onto Yes Tor (top left)
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Looking down on Row Tor from West Mill Tor
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The army sent out a search party for the lost Bergen. The van is at Moor Brook
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West Mill Tor
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West MIll Tor
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Looking West down the Red-a-Ven valley
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Climbing the last few metres of Yes Tor
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Yes Tor summit – Ernestorre to the Perambulators
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Yes Tor Trig
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View over West Okement towards Great Links Tor
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First view of Steng-a-tor, one of the ports of call on this leg of the perambulation
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View of High Willhays from Yes Tor
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From the Yes Tor / High Willhays ridge, sweeping views to OP15 and Hangingstone Hill
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High Willhays track looking back towards Yes Tor
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Looking west from High Willhays ridge
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High Willhays, looking back at Yes Tor, West Mill Tor and Row Tor
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High Willhays, 621m above sea level
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View across West Okement Valley
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Looking south from near Fordland Ledge. Far reaching view as far as North Hessary Tor
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West Okement river, upstream from Sandy Ford and below Lints Tor
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Zoomed out view of West Okement river. Lints Tor (mid-distance left) and Great Mis Tor (top right) are clearly visible.
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Steng-a-tor on the ridge, a steep climb up from the West Okement river
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Zoom in on Steng-a-tor
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View from West Okement river valley floor, looking north
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Looking south up West Okement river, near Sandy Ford
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Crossing Sandy Ford
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View of Fordlands Ledge from Sandy Ford
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Sandy Ford, safely negotiated
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Steng-a-tor; la Westolle to the perambulators
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Steng-a-tor with view across to Fordlands Ledge and High Willhays
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The ground between Steng-a-tor and Rattlebrook Head is very rough. This picture is at Rattlebrook Head looking south as far as Great Mis Tor.
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Sheep near Rattlebrook Head
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Bleak House (peat works managers former residence)
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Leaving Bleak House after a lunch stop
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Approaching the clapper across the Rattlebrook below Bleak House
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The clapper across the Rattlebrook
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More sheep on the Rattlebrook, looking across to Green Tor
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Looking south down Rattlebrook Valley
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Rattlebrook Mine
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Cattle and sheep on the Rattlebrook, with Amicombe Hill in background
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Rattlebrook around the region of Curbeam Mine / Wheal George. This dark line on the opposite bank is possibly an unfinished leat leading to an unused wheel pit (see next photograph)
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Unused wheelpit, believed to be associated with Wheal George. There is no evidence of a completed leat near this ruin.
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Unused wheelpit at SX56303 84267
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(War Department) WD 21 stone at Dead Lake Foot.
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Approaching Rattlebrook Foot, looking back.
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Just a few metres from Rattlebrook Foot, looking up river Tavy valley (eastwards). Western Oke huts are on the ridge on the left of this photograph.
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Looking up Tavy valley. The area with the three trees is sometimes called “Lord Mayors Castle”
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The Rattlebrook (nearest camera) meets the Tavy coming in from the left at head of Tavy Cleave
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Rattlebrook Foot – Rakernesbrokyfote to the perambualtors

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