Sunday, 23 October 2011

Off the beaten track

Last week, WITC followed an indistinct sheep path to the great Dartmoor Alp that is Redlake Tip. A manmade heap of china clay spoil from the early 20th century.

Approaching the works from the South West, you are faced with piles of masonry and ironwork. Signs of a Dartmoor industry which was typically hard work and short lived. As far a historical landmarks go, this is quite a prominent one.

The weather was mild and sunny. Though it was blowing a gale at home, WITC was pleasantly surprised that the wind was not compass bearing inhibitive on the moor.

We found a few letterboxes along the way. To be exact, we found 36 - every one on our list, plus a few extra! Whilst we had no first-in-books, it did go to show that we should visit this area more often, and proved that the box thief is not in control yet!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Battle Plans Part III - Any clearer?

So the Defence Ministry came up with the goods. A CD-ROM jam-packed with plans, maps, summaries and annexes. There was a lot of background information provided. Dartmoor for Dummies. A thorough introduction to the National Park, and what the armed forces do there.

We read the whole thing. Some two years after the ring road closed, just what exactly are they going to do next? And when? The main difference between this year's IRMP and last year's edition is the budget allowances provide more information on timescales. We've discovered the following:

During the financial year of 2012, the budget has been put in place to carry out the following action:

To combine Watern Oke flagpole and a 'look out'. Presumably the huts and flagpole which currently are a hundred metres or more apart, will meet up in 2012.

Walkham Spur flagpole is to be relocated, a 'look out' constructed and access works to take place on slopes near Fuges Post and Walkham Head.

Three flagpoles in the Okehampton Training area will be removed. We aren't told which ones, though the plan does suggest that Yes Tor's flagpole removal is of a higher priority than any other. Fordsland Ledge is due to have it's FP moved to Black Tor.

Repair and maintain the existing track up to Target Railway/West Mill Tor to allow access for 2 wheel drive cars. This is ongoing work, beginning next year. The target railway is due to be put back into working order the year after.

In other news:

In 2009, a trial of lowering the flagpoles when not carrying the warning signals was carried out. Results were mixed with some objecting to the removal of landmarks used for navigation (bearings!!) and few noting any benefits. Consequently, and given the additional cost, the flagpoles are not being lowered any more.

Good news if you've tried walking due North from Holming Beam recently...

"North of Holming Beam, at the corner of the prison fence, a rivulet with steep sides inhibits access. A sleeper bridge would protect the sides of the rivulet and curtail the erosion from stock and walkers seeking the best place to cross. Permission for works on common land will be sought"
(IRMP Final 2010, Vol 2, A-MilitaryUse, MU-13)
The 2013/4 budget has this covered. The buildings at Holming Beam are due to reach the end of their useful life, and in 2016/7 - so the plans say - they will be rebuilt as part of a new complex including relocated flagpole and mobile lookout.

One curiosity of last year's IRMP was about a new track linking Willsworthy Camp and Baggator. Indeed this includes a new crossing on the Tavy (neither a ford or bridge are mentioned). The plan states:

"There is an existing access track from Lookout 1 down to the Yellowmead Farm entrance. At this point, the track becomes obscured around the old farm buildings but is more prominent down to and across the stream. At the gate into the fields to the east of Yellowmead, grass marks indicate where traffic goes but the ground is soft. The proposal is to remove top soil throughout the section and consolidate hardcore to make an all weather track joining Lookout 1 with the Lane End car park.

After Lane End, a hard track goes to Nattor Farm after which it peters out. The aspiration is to extend this track down to and across the River Tavy onto ground, which would require the land owner’s agreement. From there the track will need to be engineered to climb the hill arriving eventually at the back of Standon Farm.

From Standon the track would then have to be constructed from scratch to run along the MOD freehold boundary below Standon Hill crossing the Baggator Brook above Baggator House and so to a position where a new agreement would be necessary to extend the track. From there the track would rise to Baggator Lookout to the south and South Common Plantation."

(IRMP Final 2010, Vol 2, A-MilitaryUse, MU-12)

This work is due for completion by 2015.


Clark, Lt Col T; Loch, J; Sharpe, N; O’Leary, D; Mann, T; Brooks, R; Brown, M; Howells, O (2010) Dartmoor Training Area, Integrated Rural Management Plan, Volume 1 – Summary, and Action and Monitoring Plans. 2010-2020 (Review 2015), Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Ministry of Defence, Sutton Coldfield.

Clark, Lt Col T; Loch, J; Sharpe, N; O’Leary, D; Mann, T; Brooks, R; Brown, M; Howells, O (2010) Dartmoor Training Area, Integrated Rural Management Plan, Volume 2 – Component Management Plans. 2010-2020 (Review 2015), Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Ministry of Defence, Sutton Coldfield.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Battle plans Part II

Following on from our post 'Battle Plans' (29/09/2010), we've requested the latest Integrated Rural Management Plan via a Freedom Of Information request. This appears to be the only way to discover just what the Ministry Of Defence have planned for the moor.

A year ago, we were informed of potential development to MOD property, the relocations of flagpoles and observation posts. There were adjustments outlined as to land use, including increased use of tracked vehicles to reflect training needs of the military in Afghanistan.

The MOD were also due to invest in new environmental projects. This would undoubtedly appeal to the Prince of Wales, especially since the MOD needs to renegotiate a licence to train on Duchy property. A current 21 year licence with the Duchy expires in 2012.
The above email arrived this week. It could be the most boring outcome ever, but maybe, just maybe, there will some interesting news to bring you from this new IRMP. More as we get it.