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Hartland Tor

Hartland Moor, Hartyland Tor

One of the first mentions of Hartland Tor comes from Samuel Rowe in 1848 offering this simple description "On the right bank of the East Dart above Postbridge". Writing well over a century later Eric Hemery gives a better account "The summit of this shapely tor consists of a 'feather bed', much weathered, and on its east side is a rock cavity known as 'The Devil's Punchbowl'." He also explains that "on the tor's east slope is a small holding of the Bronze Age, its enclosed hut built of large slabs and measuring twenty-one feet in diameter." We then learn of a memorial rock set on the west-north-west slope of the tor to William Donaghy a schoolmaster from Liverpool who died of exposure at the spot in February 1914. More on that incident is included here.

This charming tor sits high above the river on the east side and although a bridleway passes to the west of the rocks it does not take the visitor the top, so it is necessary to find your own route up through a series of minor tracks from the south through gorse and fern. Being the first tor out of Postbridge, it is still relatively easy to reach and provides very good views up the East Dart valley and across to Bellever. Relatively flat-topped from the north, the south side is much more impressive with several granite outcrops emerging from the slope of the hill.

Both the Tor here and nearby Hartland Farm were once the scene of a dramatic recapture of two prisoners from Princetown Gaol in June 1907. The Totnes Times and Devon News duly recorded the event "The fugitives were recaptured on Wednesday afternoon at the moorland hamlet of Postbridge six miles from the prison. They were in a wretched plight having suffered terribly from hunger and exposure to the cold and rain." A fascinating description of their probable route across the moor then ensues before we learn "Eventually they reached Hartland Tor and for a long time hid in the furze bushes which profusely clothe the eastern slope of the tor. Just halfway down in a little newtake is situated Hartland Farm which is in the occupation of George French and his wife. The convicts made up their minds to get something to eat there."

However, their attempts were thwarted by Mr French who found them skulking in his yard. The report continues "They were in a pitiful plight. Their stockings were in threads and their feet torn by the heather and stones of the moor. They had lost their caps in their flight and were soaked to the skin." Mrs French managed to alert a fisherman on the river who then took news to warders who were quickly posted to the village and the convicts were duly recaptured, with the warders "wrapping the convicts up in their own oilskin coats and providing them with rugs. They were at once seen by medical officers and given a hot bath and food."

Hartland Tor
The map above is not a navigation tool and we recommend that the grid reference shown below is used in conjunction with an Ordnance Survey map and that training in its use with a compass is advised.
Grid Ref:
SX 6418 7993
Dartmoor Forest
Tor Classification:
Rock Type:
Ordnance Survey
Ordnance Survey Maps
Eric Hemery (1983): High Dartmoor
Samuel Rowe (1848): A Perambulation of Dartmoor
Totnes Times and Devon News 'Escape of Convicts' June 8th 1907

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