Hardy souls from an Okehampton rambling group braved the heavy downpours last Sunday to venture out onto Dartmoor.

Despite the dire weather forecast, a hardy group of eight walkers started this seven-mile walk last Sunday (May 26) at Four Winds car park. They endured constant heavy showers, walked through deep puddles and over very wet ground at all stages of the walk, to finish very wet and bedraggled.  

Four Winds car park is the site of a school, opened in 1915 and closed in 1936, built for children of local Foggintor Quarry workers. The conifer tree was given to the children by prisoners of Dartmoor Prison in 1924. The two areas divided by a wall were playgrounds.

The group approached Merrivale stone rows where two parallel rows stood out. The northern row is 180 metres long with a terminal stone at its eastern end and the remains of a cairn.  The southern row is 260 metres long with three terminal stones, one at the eastern end and two at the western end. With far reaching views, it may have been a ceremonial site. 

The walkers followed the footpath through Hillside Farm looking down on the Walkham Valley and Longash Wood with views of Vixen Tor. At the base of Hucken Tor, they spotted a colony of Filmy Fern Moss (Hymenophyllum tunbrigense), an unusual fern which likes constant damp and dim light and is only found in Devon and Cornwall

Longash Wood, with its moss covered boulders, trees and bluebells, lent a magical feeling to the walk, as did the hedgerows full of wildflowers along the road towards Daveytown.

Their short, wet lunch stop was at Ingra Tor then on to Swelltor Quarry where some corbels intended for the widening of the old London Bridge lie at the side of the track. It is thought they were cut too short to be used! The quarry opened in 1823 and employed about 90 men. It closed in 1914 but reopened briefly in 1937 when DCC used the waste granite for road building.

The group walked passed Foggintor Quarry, Yellowmeade Farm and the ruins of quarrymen's cottages and returned to Four Winds car park. These club members (surely the hardiest!) had welcomed a possible new member on his first walk with the club. It was agreed that he had certainly passed this initiation test!

New walkers are welcome at Okehampton Rambling Club. Meet at Okehampton Post Office on Sundays, ready to leave promptly at 9.30am. Please be suitably dressed for all weather conditions, including sturdy footwear, and bring drinks and a packed lunch.

Car drivers with spare seats are encouraged to offer lifts to non-drivers. If you would like to meet the group at the start of the walk instead, please let the walk leader know in advance.  If you would like to bring your dog, please contact the walk leader to check that the route is suitable, and please keep your dog on a fixed lead of maximum two metres between 1 March and 31 July. Next Sunday’s walk will be at Bellever.