It’s the summer holidays and my poor attempts at home schooling are over for now. Yesterday was warm enough for a beach swim in our home town of Teignmouth, but today we fancied something quieter.
Mr. Mum on Dartmoor works full time so it’s Solo missions during the week. I’m getting more and more confident with heading up to Dartmoor on my own with the children but it’s only through practice, like anything.
So I packed the map, compass, the trusty Wine Gums and our rain coats even though it was 22° and chose a relatively easy walk to Crazy Well Pool.
Crazy Well Pool is a large pond situated about 3 km south of Princetown just off the path between Burrator and Whiteworks on the western side of Dartmoor, SX 582 705. It is about 100 metres long and has a surface area of about 3,500 square metres.
The pool lies at the top of a mining gert which indicates that it is not a natural feature but the flooded result of early mining activities.
There are several legends surrounding the pool.
It was once said to be bottomless however this was disproven one very dry summer in 1844, when the pool was almost completely pumped out by the Plymouth Dock Water Company to supplement the water supply of Devonport Leat.
It was then discovered to be around 5m deep at the Western end.
A local old wives tale reported that the water level rose and fell with the tides of the sea (of course it doesn’t 🤣).
It was claimed that at dusk the waters called out the name of the next parishioner to die and many locals would go out of their way to avoid it on their way home, lest they heard their own name.
During the Middle Ages the pool was supposedly a favourite haunt of the Witch of Sheepstor who thrived on giving out bad advice. Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall, was hiding near the pool after being banished from court by king Edward I in 1307 when the witch told him, “thy head will soon be high”.
Gaveston took that to mean he would rise at court but contrary to his belief, he was excommunicated and executed during the reign of Edward II and his head placed “high” on a pike.
Driving through Princetown take the road to the left of the Fox Tor Cafe and follow the road to White works.
Parking before you turn the corner down to White works SX 604 708 just after the wall on the left ends. Take the path heading South West beside the car park and walk to where the paths cross, continue straight ahead and down the hill until you meet the Devonport Leat at Drivage Bottom. This is where we left the path and followed the Leat. There were Minnows and Stickle Backs darting up and down the Leat, which were fun to spot as we walked. You should see Burrator Reservoir in front of you. There are four marked foot bridges over the Leat on the map and when you get to the fourth foot bridge drop down a well trodden track to the pool. The pool will become visible as you descend.
There is also a stone cross marking the Lower path about halfway there which, we dropped down to on the way back because I’m currently writing a post on the stone crosses and wanted to snap a picture.
The path and the Leat run parallel to each other so if you choose to follow the path the pool will be uphill. You can choose to take either the path or the Leat back to the car.
Swimming in the pool was lovely, there were tadpoles, froglets and newts wriggling around the shallow edges which my three found fascinating. The bottom was muddy so if you’re unsure of squelchy mud between your toes take your water shoes. The water is dark and deep, as I’ve said it gets to 5m at the western end but the Eastern end is apparently shallower. There are a few small sandy beaches around the edge and the depth isn’t too sudden.
Remember not to swim alone and only swim if you’re able and confident.
There were several herds of cows and ponies on the path during this walk, if you encounter livestock remember to keep your distance. Don't pet them and definately don't feed them.