Monthly community walks for residents of Gunnislake started over two years ago with local group Gunnislake Community Matters. At first, it was around the local Cornish side of the Tamar Valley. Now the walks are more adventurous and venture on to the Devon side. The most recent walk in mid April took a merry group of twenty folk of all ages plus one spaniel called Ruby up on to Dartmoor on a rare sunny Saturday morning. Walk organiser, Lorna Baker, said: “We were fortunate with the weather and with our guide, Dave Williams, whose love of all things historical gave the walk a whole new dynamic”.
The three mile route began at Pork Hill Car Park near Cox Tor and passed Windy Post Cross with the first history lesson dating the stone cross probably 16th century plus the nearby fascinating bullseye stone diverting some of the Grimstone and Sortridge leat to provide water for Pew Tor cottage. The views were stunning on such a clear day looking from Feather Tor to nine tors all around.
Some of the bright-eyed youngsters were the first to spot three of the nine 1847 inscribed boundary slabs around Pew Tor within which the unlicensed removal of granite was prohibited. Apparently, the group learned, stone was being illegally removed from the tor, mainly by Tavistock stonemasons, due to the ease of access from local roads. On the south side of Pew Tor the obligatory group photo was based around a good example of the church pew-like rock formation after which Pew Tor was supposedly named. Dave Williams pointed out a good example of a Sampford Spiney parish boundary stone and a large pit that anecdotally is said to be a World War Two bombe crater.
A small clapper bridge, a ruined granite workers workshop, a wheelwright’s stone and an aquaduct running through the tinner’s gert were all intriguing glimpses into the past working life on Dartmoor. Without Dave Williams’ knowledge, most walkers would have walked straight past most of them.
The next Gunnislake community walk is in the diary for Saturday the 12th May with a likely route based around Denham Bridge and surrounding woods. Another foray into Devon.