pub, a farmhouse or two, a couple of cottages, a disused quarry and a bridge to nowhere) nestles in the valley of the River Tavy on the western edge of the moor. I have to admit that, although I had been through on the closest thing that Dartmoor possesses to a main road many times, it wasn't until fairly recently that I knew anything about the mystical secrets that it keeps quiet about. There are no signs pointing these things out and there is very little at all to be seen from the road as people speed through on their way to Tavistock and the bulging metropolis of Plymouth.
I pulled in to a tiny roadside car park just before the road dipped into the valley and braved the bluster of the fresh wind as I began to make my way up a steep bank onto the shelterless tussock covered heath. The tussocks reminded me of their larger cousins in New Zealand, their golden, bleached colour was almost identical to the ones I had seen in places like Te Anau, the Crown Range and the Lindis Pass.
As I got closer to the, seemingly, random stones and boulders laid out before me, they began to take on regular shapes and patterns in the land. Here a circle, there a row, here a compound, and here and there single stones defining an area. This was an ancient human world where long gone ancestors had left their mark in the landscape, like fingerprints in the clay of a long broken shard of pottery. The more I looked the more distinct they became and I was soon drawn to the most obvious feature in front of me.
This row of stones forms part of one side of a large pound which was used in the Middle Ages at times of plague for the people of Tavistock to leave money, farmers from the moor to leave them cattle and the transaction to be made without either party actually meeting each other.
This shaped lump of granite is a couple of metres across and is known as The Apple Crusher, it is not thought to be ancient but rather a more recent attempt at making a millstone from the easily accessible rocks.
At the beginning of one of the stone rows.
This is the first stone row I came to. I have no idea what purpose it served in ancient times but was obviously laid out with precision and care.
The Leat. A leat is a stone lined, canalised stream. They were often used for channelling water to a particular place to run a mill wheel or to bring water for animals. Apparently there are loads of them on Madiera.
This is the second, longer row on the other side of the leat. I paced it out and it was over 200 metres long.
A kistvaen, a stone lined burial chamber. The reason there is a gap in the large stone on top is that the middle section has been cut out to make a gate post at sometime long ago.
From a different angle.
A menhir, or large single standing stone - this one almost three metres tall.
Because of all the recent rain, and even though this was the top of a hill, there were all these pools of water, allowing me to make the most of the reflections.
The long stone row from the other end.
To give you an idea of the length of this row, there is a person in the far distance walking along it.
Half way along the row is this stone circle
Back to the leat again
I'm sure this sheep would have waved me goodbye, if it hadn't been too busy.
Now to less ancient things, this is Merrivale. As you can see the bridge in the foreground goes nowhere.
Here it is from beside the river, a typical Dartmoor scene.
And the river from the bridge.