Saturday, 11 April 2009

Childe`s Tomb

We took a drive out to Dartmoor today, as it was a lovely day. We decided to do a walk we havent done for a few years, out to Foxtor. We parked up, had a coffee, then set off, it was beautiful on the moor, blue sky, sunshine, total peace, with no one about, just the skylarks singing, and the wind sighing in the grass, bliss....we could see for miles, across the beige elephant grass, to the far distant dark shoulder of the moor.

We followed the rough path, skirting the huge puddles, till we came in sight of Nun`s Cross farm, the sun glinting on its corrugated iron roof, and the two fir trees like sentinels each side of the farmhouse.

Taking a detour, we headed down to this lovely old cross `Nun`s Cross`or Siward`s Cross, its one of the oldest on the moor, and is known to have been in existence since 1240. It was used as a boundary post and a way marker, being on the Abbots way, used by the Monks of Buckfast and Tavistock Abbeys.

Having admired the cross, and looking about, I spotted this `letterbox` under a nearby rock.

Dartmoor letterboxing is a popular pastime on the moor. There are thousands of boxes hidden on the moor, under rocks, in crevices on banks and in tin miners workings. There are all sorts of boxes, mainly plastic, of all shapes and sizes, but there are also old ammunition cases, referred to as `ammo cans` Inside is a rubber stamp, which you would stamp in your book, to collect, then if you had a stamp, would leave yours in theirs. Some of the stamps are beautiful, and very detailed, and some relate to the nearby crosses/tors/standing stones etc., I was hoping this would be for Nuns cross....

but it wasnt.....so having placed it back carefully in its hidey hole, we walked down to the farm

It`s no longer used as a farmhouse, and was deserted after the last war. The Royal Navy use it now for training. It sits in sightless contemplation of times long past....with the skylarks to keep it company.

Below the farmhouse, is the devonport leat, it bubbles and gurgles across the moor in an icy ribbon..
We came across this rather nice little sluice gate, which they must have raised to divert some of the water...I dont think it has been used for a long time though.

We set off across the moor, the sun beating down, so warm we had to take our coats off. We followed the lovely old granite stone wall, where there was a path of sorts..

The green mosses that grow on the stones are vibrant emerald, like pin cushions...

Evenually we reached Fox Tor, a vast sprawling tor....

We didnt climb it this time, but we have and it holds lots of secret letter boxes...

Instead, we headed out over the elephant grass, which is very difficult to walk over, till we reached this lonely cross.....Childe`s Tomb. The legend goes that in the 14th century Childe was out hunting one day, when his party was overtaken by bad weather. He became seperated from them and fearing he would die from exposure, killed his horse, and crept inside for shelter. He froze to death, but before he died, wrote his will, in blood, leaving his estate to whichever church gave his body burial. Legend goes, that the monks from Tavistock found the body, and by fair means or foul conveyed it back to the Abbey, where it was buried, and they received possession of the estate.

Having pondered the secrets of the past, we headed back, watching the cloud shadows drift across the moor...

We were following more or less another ancient path, the Monks path...and in the distance the next cross..

This is Goldsmiths cross, so called as it was rediscovered by Lt. Goldsmith in 1903, and re-erected in its original socket in the boulder.
Nearby was this wonderful boulder, a real character with fabulous grassy hat..

We walked on, till we joined the leat again, and below the crystal water you see the little plants growing, and trailing in the current. This one was covered in tiny white star flowers

and someone long ago had thrown this stone in with the quarry marks clearly visiable

Further along the leat, we came across this `sheep leap` which was put there so the sheep could access the pasture on each side of the stream, unfortunately I`ve never seen one using it, but of course they do. It was a lovely peaceful walk, a good start to Easter.

2 comments:

Ramblings From Spain said...

What an absolutely delightful walk to have shared with you both!
I loved the crosses, and the "sheep leap" - oh, to see them doing it! - and the gorgeous pics of the fluffy clouds in the blue sky.
Wish I could have been there with you so much! xx

Piecefulafternoon said...

Lovely walk. The sheep's leap was interesting - I'd never heard of that before. I can almost see them jumping across.