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Twyste Rocks

Twist Rocks

The multitude of non-granite rockpiles that pepper Smeardon Down cannot fail to impress the beholder, especially the tremendous views that they afford of West Dartmoor. To the north-east of the principal pile of Boulters Tor is a small, compact, rectangle-shaped pile, going by the name of 'Twist Rocks'. We first learn of this strange appellation from Paul Rendell (PR) in Dartmoor News where he writes: "I have known this small outcrop built into the wall as Twist Rocks since 23rd December 2019 when I met an old boy and asked him if the rocks had a name? He said he had always known them as Twist Rocks." adding: "They were so named because they belonged to the farmer at Twist Farm before the building fell into ruins." 'Twyste' is the old spelling of 'Twist', which is today accepted to be both the modern and phonetic variation.

Further information about the rockpile has been gleaned in Dartmoor Magazine by Tim Jenkinson (TJ): "Returning to Boulters Tor, Hemery advises that, 'On its brow is another more broken crag and under the southwest side of this a circular enclosure forty-two feet in diameter, presumably a very small pound.' This crag is now taken to be the small pile known as Twist Rocks at SX 5263 7813 that is set just inside the gate off the path leading to the hamlet of Cudlipptown at one mile distant."

There is what is in effect a small tor here that, like its near neighbour, Boulters Tor, has been desecrated somewhat by having a crudely lined fence placed across the top, as it lies on a field boundary wall. It was commonplace for farmers to construct their boundaries to, from and across outcrops of rock as these act like natural barriers preventing the movement of animals between enclosures. The main pile is quite jagged in appearance and presents as a series of knobbly steps from the east from which one can carefully climb to the top. More rocks are spread through the field beneath towards the aforementioned ruined farmstead.

The abandoned Twist Farm from which the Rocks are named has a fascinating, if somewhat puzzling, story attached to the crumbling walls. TJ explains: "The farm features in a story from the Western Morning News and Mercury on 8 May 1924, entitled 'Loss of Memory: Unknown Woman at Peter Tavy'. The extract reads: 'A young woman of prepossessing appearance, well-dressed and well-spoken, was found wandering at Petertavy near Tavistock a few days ago. She went on April 30th to a Mrs Harvie of Twist Farm and asked to be taken in. Mrs Harvie consented and although she has questioned the woman, she has not been able to elicit any information from her as to her identity. The woman is evidently suffering from loss of memory.'" It turns out that the woman is Gwendoline Bradfield who disappeared from her primary residence on April 29th. TJ concludes: "Although the Harvie family were long-time occupants of the farm it seems that one of the last inhabitants was ex-army man, Gilbert Pomeroy, in 1952 (Herald Express), shortly before the building was abandoned and later fell gradually into the disrepair we see today." Please note that Twist Farm lies on private land and that the building is unstable and dangerous to enter. It is strongly advised that visitors view the exterior from the nearby public bridleway.

Twyste Rocks
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 5263 7813
Peter Tavy
Tor Classification:
Private (but accessible)
Rock Type:
Paul Rendell
Reference / Further Reading:
Herald Express (1952): 3rd July
Jenkinson, T. (2023): Dartmoor Magazine, Issue 150, Summer: Dartmoor Discovered: Smeardon Down and Twyste Lane - Some Tors and Rocks Explored
Rendell, P. (2020): Dartmoor News, Issue 175, August/October: Exploring the Tors around Peter Tavy
Western Morning News and Mercury (1924): 'Loss of Memory', 8th May
Western Morning News and Mercury (1924): 'Peter Tavy Mystery', 12th May

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