Thursday, 16 June 2011

More boundaries

WITC took a recent stroll up to Haytor Down, Black Down and Holwell Tor. It is another area more frequented by dog walkers and day trippers than letterboxers. Its a walk with a contrast of ankle breaking scree slopes and big quarry drops, and large expanses of gorse and heather, criss crossed with a myriad of sheep tracks.

Set amongst the vegetation, hiding from immediate view, is a long line of boundary stones bearing inscriptions and the letters DS. These letters stand for the Duke of Somerset, and marked the boundary of the 11th Duke's estate.

Our walk took us from the top of the ridge to the walls of Yarner Wood, and we appreciated the shelter of the trees here when the heavy rain showers rolled in. We had chosen this route carefully to avoid the really busy, hot and sunny days, but hadn't planned on having to dodge rain as well as the crowds. The views between the showers are stunning looking East over Devon, and West towards the a particularly dramatic area of Dartmoor, with many iconic tor outlines, and tight valleys.

Most of the Boundstones on Haytor Down were erected on the Duke's instructions in the 1850s, and are interspersed with older stones and landmarks. They are generally named or inscribed with 'DS 1854', and can be seen all around Eastern Dartmoor. Here we see Owlacombe Burrow, Prince Albert, Victoria and Old Jack. Blue Jug and Grey Wethers on Hameldown are art of the same set of stones. The home to the Duke of Somerset was then Natsworthy Manor, a sprawling house North of Widecombe which is now a Buddhist retreat. Berry Pomeroy Castle in the South Hams is how one of the Duke's estates, though the current Duke lives closer to London.

We finished on our day with impressive haul of 23 stamps, including some long undiscovered boxes.