Wednesday December 18 2019 – Betty’s Dartmoor Walk

We expected bad weather and we got it, so full marks to the eleven walkers who ventured on to Dartmoor, led by Betty, in expectation of the inevitable – the heavy rain that arrived about one o’clock. The starting point was typical of a Dartmoor winter walk. The parking place above Widecombe at Southcombe was cold, and deserted, with a freezing wind. We set off eagerly, to keep warm, but also because we were looking forward to visiting the medieval village at Hutholes, – a first for most of us. From the car park we walked to Jordan along lanes and paths, often boggy, slippy, and muddy. At the coffee stop Pam cheered us up by regaling  us with some humorous poetry about rambling, and the Club. We approached Jordan with the East Webburn River on our right. The river was in full spate under the little wooden bridge which some of us took a diversion to look at – described in Dartmoor 365 as a haven of delight, like entering a private garden. From there we passed Drywell Farm. Not far up the hill to the north is an old wayside cross. Nothing seems to be known about its origins. At one time its head was built into a nearby wall. An old shaft was found (from the grounds of a house in Totnes called Critchel) and the two were united in 1967. The cross stands again as a waymark, perhaps not too far from its original position by the path to Widecombe Church. It is unique in that it has a rectangular niche cut into the shaft which possibly once held an icon of some description. Just beyond the crossroads west of Wind Tor is a sign for Hutholes. We walked along a path in woodland and then emerged in a field. This is Hutholes. The information board on site reads that ‘this is the site of a deserted medieval settlement known today as Hutholes.’ Within an area of just under an acre lie the remains of six buildings dating to the 13th and 14th centuries A.D. It was a local farmer, Mr. Hermon French who first alerted the presence of Hutholes to one Mrs. Minter. It was she who eventually began the excavation which  took place between 1961 and 1975. Her excavations revealed the remains of a lengthy sequence of buildings. It was also stated that lines of stake-holes were found lying underneath some of the ruins of 13th century buildings suggesting earlier structures. The buildings of the last phase of development are what we can see today and comprised a manor house, a three roomed longhouse, a barn for drying corn and three other structures likely to be outbuildings. It was a great place for lunch. It was then that the rain set in so the walk was cut short, and the last photo taken, without visiting Wind Tor. We stopped on the way back for tea at Ullacombe Farm. Thank you Betty for an interesting  walk, and for showing us a new aspect of Dartmoor.