• Paul at Wallabrook
  • Paul at Watern

10/08/2016 at 9:08 am: DARTMOOR NEWS SUBSCRIBERS

DARTMOOR NEWS SUBSCRIBERS To all the readers who have their magazine delivered by post, we regret once again the delay in you receiving the last issue. The magazine is normally sent out by the printers and they told us it was sent out on 7th July but this does not seem to be the case as no one has received them. The printers blame the Royal Mail. We do not know where the magazines have gone, we are in the middle and find ourselves in a hopeless situation. We have been posting out our spare copies until they ran out. We have now found a new printer and hope this problem does not arise again. We sincerely apologise for the late delivery and are sorry we have not been able to send copies out to all of you. We are keeping a note of everyone who has contacted us but who we were unable to send a copy to. If and when we get more copies we will send them to you. We will of course adjust your subs to add on an extra copy. Thank you again for bearing with us on this matter.



02/12/2015 at 7:30 am: ROAD CLOSED AROUND BURRATOR

A MAJOR part of the road around Burrator Lake is to be closed to traffic for an entire week in December to allow patching of the highway.
The road will be closed from Burrator Lodge all the way around the reservoir to Nelder’s Lane up to the T-junction with Sheepstor village. Diversion signs will be set up at either end of the closure.
A spokesman for South West Highways has told Burrator Parish Council: “Circumstances and weather permitting, on behalf of Devon County Council, SW Highways will be carrying out the work under a road closure from Tuesday December 15th to Monday December 21st.”
They added that access to properties and land within the closure would be maintained where necessary but there might be times when this was restricted or delayed. SW Highways have apologised in advance for any inconvenience caused by what it refers to as “essential works”.
The map below shows a red line indicating the extent of the closure. Any one who has any any questions about the road work is advised to contact the Customer Liaison Officer at South West Highways - Tel 01805 622395.



26/10/2015 at 7:51 am: The 100 Mile Dartmoor Pack Pony Challenge

The 100 Mile Dartmoor Pack Pony Challenge

By Paul Rendell
The great adventure started on 16th October when Dru Butterfield and myself, both from the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust, teamed up with Sam Goodwin of Dartmoor Pony and Pack and his ponies Billy and Jasmine, to take on an impressive challenge – to walk across the moor for some 100 miles (160 km) in seven days. Taking a route that encompassed the four Stannary towns – where tin mined on Dartmoor was gathered, weighed and sold – the walk retraced the steps of the ponies’ past as pack animals critical to the livelihood, and ultimately the survival, of those who lived and worked on Dartmoor in centuries gone by. Many old trackways were used such as the Plymouth to Chagford pack horse route across Chagford Common, and Diamond Lane near Shipley which was used to take ponies up on to the moor. In addition, a good portion of the old Tavistock to Ashburton pack horse track was used between Hexworthy and Tavistock.
On the section of the walk between Widecombe and Grimspound on top of Hameldown the conditions were very misty, but was it wonderful walking slowly and, as we dropped down to Grimspound, the mist cleared and we could see the ancient settlement.
Kathy Tipping, one of the official photographers, said: ‘It all got a bit lovey duvey on the walk on day four – a bit of scandal at last, for the ‘paparequi’ of us. A bit of romance was in the air with Paul Rendell, showing his less Bear Grylls more Sleeping Beauty side, and Billy sharing a sleepy moment at tea break!’
After leaving Postbridge the sun came out and with the autumn colours it was a glorious walk to Bellever Youth Hostel where Maria Bailey laid on soup, rolls and sandwiches. Then Maria joined us for the rest of the day.
One of the most moving moments on the walk for me was when a car pulled up outside Chagford and the driver got out to speak to us. He told us he and his wife were on holiday, staying at Teignmouth, had heard about the walk and drove to the moors to find us. He asked if his wife could come over to the ponies and touch them. We readily agreed and helped her up the bank to the animals. It transpired that his wife was blind and I was reduced to tears. We had a few moments together – very touching, very moving.
What amazed me was the number of people that had seen the event publicised on TV or heard about it on social media and stopped to say hello. In the Stannary towns particularly we were met by large numbers of well wishers. In Chagford they come out of the pubs to speak to the walkers and see the ponies. Local officials in these towns also welcomed us and signed the Dartmoor Pony Charter to recognise the ponies’ part in Dartmoor’s heritage, tourism and biodiversity.
Phillppa Waddell, from Wildhorse Films, followed us all week making a documentary about the challenge. There were also cameras on Dru and on the bucket which was strapped to one of the ponies’ packs.
At the end of each day Billy and Jasmine had their packs removed and then enjoyed a good roll around in the grass. It was great to watch them. Sam made replicas of ancient pack pony equipment, the ponies had months of training and the team retraced historic pack pony routes, experiencing some of this country’s most stunning, and treacherous, environments.
We passed the 100 mile mark just as we arrived at Ben Mee’s famous Dartmoor Zoo at Sparkwell, near Ivybridge. After a brief celebration with supporters – and a few treats for Jasmine and Billy – we finished at the ponies’ home at Lukesland after trekking another 8 miles (13 km).
Dru commented: ‘I truly realised just how amazing the ponies are to cope with the terrain, carry the packs and look after the rather less sure-footed humans travelling with them, and I appreciate the relationships built up within a close knit team, vital to ensure that everyone stayed safe on the moor. We will remember this adventure for ever’.
Taking on this challenge involved a lot of work and co-operation. It was not an easy task with months of route planning, physical training and learning how people and ponies can coexist and work together. It would not have been possible without Clare Stanton and her team of supporters. We are all a group of folk working together towards a single, shared passion – to save these incredible animals and give them the right and security to their own future on their native soil.
Completing the 100 Mile Dartmoor Pack Pony Challenge was tough but a great achievement by the ponies, the dogs and of course the people following in the footsteps of the moormen of yesteryear. A challenge for all and a triumph of teamwork.
If you would like to help please go on to www.dpht.co.uk to donate to the cause - helping to keep the Dartmoor pony on Dartmoor.


More information

30/05/2015 at 7:09 am: SWINCOMBE BRIDGE

The Bridge across the River Swincombe is now open after a new bridge has been built.



25/03/2015 at 8:10 am:



19/12/2014 at 4:44 pm: ANOTHER CHAPTER FOR SWINCOMBE BRIDGE

Paul Rendell looks at its history
Swincombe Bridge, also known as Fairy Bridge (SX 642 725), which spans the River Swincombe near Hexworthy, was removed last October for safety reasons. Following the storms and bad weather in February 2013, the footbridge carrying a public bridleway across the river sustained considerable damage. Inspections during the summer of 2014 by the Dartmoor National Park Ranger Service and Devon County Council bridge engineers deemed the structure unsafe and the bridge was closed. Subsequent inspections have seen deterioration in the structure and it has now been condemned and removed by the Ranger Service at the beginning of October. A replacement bridge is due to be built in the spring of 2015 if funding is obtained.

In 1912 William Crossing talks about crossing a bridge at this spot and it was known as Fairy Bridge back then so it is not a new name as many people think. Mrs Elizabeth Ware, who lived in Lower Swincombe, used to cross the old bridge here in the 1920s when it was called Swincombe Clam. It stood beside a ford which is still there today. The stepping stones are believed to been placed there in the 1950s.

In 1972 Dartmoor National Park Ranger Eddie Hain put up a new bridge at the site. It was constructed of three telegraph poles with decking planks and two wire handrails. He used the existing old granite abutments which were probably the original stones used for the clapper bridge that once stood there. The bridge was 37 ft (11 m) long and 38 in (97cm) wide. The handrails were very flimsy and would not have stopped anybody falling off, but safety was not as important then as it is today. The bridge itself was also very flimsy and if more than two people were walking over it at the same time, the bridge would shake, so one had to tread very lightly.
The bridge was replaced again on 23rd August 1995 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Dartmoor Expedition Panel, which is the body behind the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, and a plaque was affixed to mark the event. This bridge was more robust and did not move as much, so one did not have to be so much of a ‘fairy’ to cross it.
Some time in the early part of 2000s someone placed a fairy there. It got damaged during 2008 and was replaced the following year. Since then another fairy appeared but this one was more garish than the others. It was also damaged prior to the bridge being dismantled. By 2010 the bridge had became weakened and works were carried out by Mr N Smerdon to strengthen the structure.
In 2014 it was decided it was time to replace the bridge again. The old bridge was removed last October by DNPA Rangers Pete Rich, Ian Brooker, Rob Taylor and Serina Rouse. It was a showery day and they dismantled it piece by piece. As they removed the rails a lot of rotten wood was revealed. The bridge was well built with heavy metal bolts holding the hand rails together and it took a long time to dismantle. Hopefully a new wooden faced bridge will be up and in use in the spring 2015.



04/11/2014 at 8:37 am: SWINCOMBE BRIDGE REMOVED

Swincombe Bridge, also know as Fairy Bridge (SX 642 725), which spans the River Swincombe near Hexworthy, has been removed. Following the storms and bad weather in February this year, the footbridge carrying a public bridleway across the river sustained considerable damage. Inspections during the summer of 2014 by the Dartmoor National Park Ranger Service and Devon County Council bridge engineers deemed the structure unsafe and the bridge was closed. Subsequent inspections have seen deterioration in the structure and it has now been condemned and removed by the Ranger Service at the beginning of October. A replacement bridge is due to be built in the spring of 2015 if funding is obtained. A fuller report will appear the next issue of Dartmoor News.