Sunday, 27 August 2017

Dartmoor: A Tor named "Granate" - part two

Looking back to Granate Tor
Granate Tor
After I had written up my previous post on Granate Tor, I was pretty sure I hadn't found it. I soon received more information, via Tim Jenkinson, and uncovered a later map that placed the forgotten tor in a different location. Problem was, both pieces of information contradicted each other. I was going to have to get out there and investigate both.


I parked at Prewley again, this time taking the Granite Way, bound for Lake Viaduct, and Deep Valley, where there are the remains of an old copper mine.

Sourton Tors shrouded in mist.
Sourton Tors in the mist
Lavis Bridge
Lavis Bridge

Walking the Granite Way seemed appropriate, given my goal today! It certainly made the walk to Deep Valley simpler than the open moor, but when reaching the viaduct it was time to put in a bit of effort.

Lake Viaduct
Lake Viaduct

The viaduct offers a panorama of Deep Valley and Lake Down. From here, it also looks like a lot of ascent and it was going to test my fitness!

Lake Down
Lake Down

Tor Wood, Sourton Tors, Deep Valley and Lake Down
Tor Wood, Sourton Tors, Deep Valley and Lake Down

I took a left path, which switched back down under the viaduct. At a junction, where the Bearslake Inn is left, I turned right, out onto the open moor where I picked up the old track through the bracken.

Lake Viaduct
Lake Viaduct

I reached the disused mine, hoping to see some remains of buildings but all I could see was a once flat area dotted with spoil heaps that were being reclaimed by nature. There was some evidence of quarrying hidden away behind the foliage on the edge of Tor Wood.

Researching the mine, I found it originally worked together with Wheal Fanny further south, Tor Wood Mines was little more than a prospective trial for copper and lead. Little is known of the history, although it was being worked in the 1820's but abandoned in 1828 when it was advertised for sale.

The remains of Tor Wood Copper Mine
The remains of Torwood Copper Mine
Lake Viaduct from Tor Wood Copper Mine (disused)
Lake Viaduct from Torwood Copper Mine (disused)

So what was I doing here, and what did it have to do with Granate Tor?

Well, the first bit of information I received was that Granate Tor might have been a misnomer, and was actually Sourton Tor;

An 1851 publication named "A Hand-book for Travellers in Devon and Cornwall" by Thomas Clifton Paris had the following to say about the location of Granate Tor; "In 6 m the traveller reaches a few cottages, collectively known by the name of Lake, where, l. of the road, in a deep gully, is a small copper mine called Tor Wood, deserving notice for its gigantic water-wheel and picturesque locaility; and on the neighbouring heights Granate Tor, very beautifully covered with snow-white lichens, which show that the rock is not granite, although the name would seem to imply it."

This little known book, after many editions, was later incorporated into the more popular Ward Lock's Dartmoor Guidebooks where the paragraph was amended; "..we reach Lake (its cottages are so few that it scarcely deserves the name 'hamlet') near which is Tor Wood a small copper mine, noted for its large water wheel at the foot of Granate Tor, the snow white lichens on whose surface clearly show that it is not composed of granite, the popularly received derivation of its name not withstanding."

The texts are significant because, as Tim Jenkinson pointed out to me, Tor Wood mine was, in fact, at the foot of the Sourton Range, which are, indeed, non-granite.

Lake Viaduct
Lake Viaduct from the edge of Tor Wood
I had intentions to continue along the length of Deep Valley, but it was a humid day and so I climbed out along the walled edge of Tor Wood, out to where the southern outcrop of the Sourton Tors appeared.

Southern most outcrop of Sourton Tors
Southern outcrop of Sourton Tors

Southern Outcrop of Sourton Tors
Southern outcrop of Sourton Tors
I could see why the theory was plausible, as this outcrop is a few hundred metres from the rest of the others and could have originally been considered a separate tor. But a couple of things niggled;

Firstly, I reconsidered the text. Tim pointed out that it kept being amended in different editions of the Ward Lock publication, in 1896, it was "Granate" (incidentally, Sourton Tors was individually mentioned in a different part of the guide), then, in 1919, the spelling was changed to "Granite". By 1930, the name had disappeared and it had been changed to "Sourton". This suggests to me that the original description had been wrong in the first place.

Southern Outcrop of Sourton Tors
Southern outcrop of Sourton Tors
Then there were the maps; Sourton and Granate Tor are labelled, with a big distance between them. The 1803 map points to the north-west slope of Corn Ridge, although that is open to interpretation. Tom Greeves, in his article in Dartmoor Magazine ambiguously says it is "north of Branscombe's Loaf" and just looking at the map I can see an argument for both locations. However, having visited them the previous week, neither were a strong candidate.

But now I had a later, 1840, Ordnance Survey map placing Granate Tor on the western slopes of Corn Ridge, as below;

1840 Ordnance Survey Map showing Granate to to the west of Brandscombe Loaf
I'll admit, this map, like the 1803 edition, is far from perfect. Both appear to place Branscombe's Loaf too far south on Corn Ridge, suggesting that the ridge had not been surveyed correctly. What is important, in my opinion, is that the later map places Granate Tor on the western slope.

When I stood at the southern Sourton outcrop, I looked east, to Corn Ridge, hoping to spot the forgotten tor on the west slope. My heart rate, now recovered from the climb up from Deep Valley, quickened again when I could clearly see shapes on the brow; obvious bumps of exposed granite.

Outcrop on the horizon, the edge of Corn Ridge
Outcrop on the horizon, the edge of Corn Ridge
With renewed optimism, I went for the ridge, making my way around the head of Deep Valley, with its fine views down to the viaduct.

Deep Valley Head
Deep Valley Head
Lake Viaduct and Deep Valley
Lake Viaduct and Deep Valley
Another look up to the ridge, and the outcrops were more pronounced. I crossed the Kings Way and began my ascent to the clitter beneath.

Granate Tor
Granate Tor
Approaching Granate Tor
Approaching Granate Tor
The closer I came, the greater I felt I was encountering Granate Tor. I reached the first pile, where I could then see a higher, larger outcrop. The lower consisted of some hefty, impressive, rocks and were evidence enough for a tor in this location.


Granate Tor lower pile
Granate Tor lower pile

Granate Tor lower pile
Granate Tor lower pile

Granate Tor rocks between upper and lower pile
Granate Tor rocks between upper and lower piles

I visited some of the outlying rocks between the two main outcrops, some interesting shapes and formations, including a small boulder wedged between two slabs.

Wedged stone on Granate Tor
Wedged stone on Granate Tor

At the higher pile, I found a substantial tor. Importantly, from this outcrop I could see higher to the cairn on the top of Corn Ridge, placing Granate to the south-west of Branscombe's Loaf.

Granate Tor
Granate Tor
The main part of the outcrop had granite slabs piled in an "L" shape, the natural enclosure beneath a damp patch evident by the tall grass. I sat down at the drier back of the tor, out of the wind, for lunch.

Granate Tor
Granate Tor

Granate Tor
Granate Tor

Granate Tor
Granate Tor
I also took a short video to try and show the extent of this higher pile;

Granate Tor
Granate Tor Video
Being so close to the top, a visit to the loaf had to be done. I headed for the cairn. Once there, I looked back to Granate, still visible and, with the benefit of hindsight, obvious.

Cairn on Corn Ridge, near Branscombe's Loaf
Cairn on Corn Ridge, near Branscombe's Loaf

Granate Tor from the cairn near Branscombe's Loaf
Granate Tor from the cairn near the Loaf

Branscombe's Loaf was looking majestic in the light, with high Dartmoor as a back drop. A satisfying moment.

Branscombe's Loaf and High Dartmoor beyond
Branscombe's Loaf and High Dartmoor beyond

Branscombe's Loaf, Black Tor (Okehampton) behind.
Branscombe's Loaf

Time to head home. Dropping down the ridge, admiring the view to the north of Meldon Reservoir, I passed a discarded granite apple crusher, before a slight rise to Sourton Tors.

Meldon Reservoir
Meldon Reservoir

Sourton Apple Crusher
Sourton Apple Crusher

Sourton Tors
Sourton Tors

Sheep on Sourton Tors
Sheep on Sourton Tors
Back at home, I considered the day, wrote up the proceedings and then tried a couple of times more to explain my theory. I am certain I have located Granate Tor now. Of course, others may disagree and if that is the case, I'd welcome evidence to prove me wrong. After all is said and done, what is important is getting the right location in the end.

Here's today's route: