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  • Writer's pictureJodie Newton

Super short walks to Grimspound and Haytor Quarry

I was out with some friends on Saturday evening and one of them, who has twin toddlers asked if there were shorter trips she could take them on. Luckily I had been up to Grimspound that very day and promised that I would post a short walk for her.


Grimspound from Hookney Tor

There is limited roadside parking in a layby, located on the right hand side approximately 1.4 miles (2.2km) after turning off the B3212. On the Left hand side if you’re driving from Widecombe. I would suggest getting there before 10am.

From here it is just a short walk up next to the very pretty little Grimslake stream.

As you ascend the hill Grimspound SX 700 807 is hard to miss (on a clear day, in the fog it may be trickier to spot).

We brought some friends along on our visit as Grimspound is,in my opinion one of the most spectacular of the Bronze Age sites on the Moor bar Drizzlecombe perhaps.

Grimspound is a partially enclosed prehistoric settlement with field system and two post-medieval caches between Hookney Tor and Hameldown Tor.

Grimspound is one of the best known prehistoric settlements on Dartmoor, probably dating from the Late Bronze Age (about 1450–700 BC).

The remains of 24 houses enclosed within a stone wall, and further houses outside the enclosure.

Hut circle, Grimspound

By 2500 BC the early farmers were moving into upland areas like Dartmoor, and settled farms and field systems were becoming commonplace.

The remains of the characteristic round houses (also known as hut circles) in which people lived can still be seen.

It is not known precisely how long Grimspound was in use, but by about 1200 BC the settlement pattern was changing. The thin moorland soils deteriorated very quickly and there was a change in the climate.

There are many theories about how and why Grimspound was used, one of which is that it was a summer grazing spot for cattle and that it is possibly related to Foales Arrishes, another large settlement near Top Tor.

Early excavations determined which huts where occupied by whether or not there was evidence of a hearth. Examination of ash found in the old hearths showed that the dwellers were burning small Ash, Oak, and Willow sticks and peat. Near to the hearths was evidence of shallow pits probably used for cooking and heating water.

From Grimspound if you want to, you can extend your trip by climbing up to Hookney Tor SX 698 812 which we did. It’s on the left of Grimspound with the road behind you.

It consists of several granite piles and stands at an elevation of 497 metres (1631 feet) above sea level.

Heading up the hill to Hookney Tor from Grimspound

It is surrounded by the Hookney Tor Cairn in the form of a discreet cluster of mounds running along the ridge.

There were several majestic Highland cattle up there upon our visit, with their prolonged horns and gorgeous expressions making for a few joyous photo opportunities.

Shy Guy

Hookney Tor is also situated on the Two Moors Way if you wanted to extend your route even further.

On this occasion we had arranged to meet up with some very dear friends to commemorate one of our departed peers, who’s remains were scattered near Haytor quarry SX769 775 some years go. So we all descended the hill back to the car and drove back towards Haytor.

Haytor Quarry

I am not a fan of Haytor, don’t get me wrong it’s beautiful and easy to access but for this reason it does seem to attract many of those who flout the Dartmoor bylaws and the country side code.

There were, for example a number of tents in the car park, ponies were being fed and numerous bags of dog poo had been left on the footpaths. There were already a large number of visitors and the car parks were filling fast.

Yuck and infuriating!

However, this is where our friend “Hobbit” (he once lived in a hole) or Duncan as others knew him, wished for his remains to be placed and so we diligently traipsed up to the Quarry (a five minute walk along the path to the right hand side of Haytor Rock) to toast his memory.

Little line of small people ready to toast "Uncle Duncle"

We decided to enter the quarry for our picnic and as we did the heavens opened.

We were all getting wet, so I thought what better time for a swim? Some of the children and I had a lovely little dip in the quarry pond, where I had swam many times before as a child but never since. On exiting the water there was a large leech wriggling in the shallows so it will probably be a long time until I do so again.

Swimming in Haytor Quarry

The Haytor Leech ;)

There were other families with small nets and I fondly remembered fishing for Newts with my cousins when we were small.

It is a very sweet little place to visit and again very easy to get to.

It sits beside the old granite tramway which was built to convey granite from Haytor Down, To the Stover Canal. It was very unusual in that the track was formed of granite sections, shaped to guide the wheels of horse-drawn wagons.

Haytor Granite Tramway

The rock from the quarry was much in demand for construction work in the cities of England, including parts of London Bridge.

You can follow the old tramway along the Templars way footpath which leads back 20 miles to Teignmouth, our home town and Richard and I did this walk as part of our Mighty Hike training.

On this occasion however we all decided that the air was a bit chilly, the children we’re getting fractious and it was time to head back to the car.

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