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Foxtor Mires On Dartmoor

On the flank of the tor, about 500 m to the north stands Childe’s Tomb – according to local legend, the last resting place of Childe the Hunter, an unfortunate traveller who died there during a blizzard.

About 800 m. NNE of the tor lie the remains of Foxtor Farm, which was used by Eden Phillpotts as one of the main settings of his 1904 novel The American Prisoner, and in a subsequent early “talkie” film, made in 1929.About a kilometre north-east of the tor lies the swampy land known as Fox Tor Mires. This is said to have been the inspiration for the fictional Grimpen Mire in the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This wide expanse of peat bog continues to be dangerous to walkers, especially after heavy rain.

There is another Fox Tor on Dartmoor, one of five outcrops on the western bank of the River Tavy in woodland north of Peter Tavy, at grid reference SX514788. There is another on Bodmin Moor near Lewannick.
In 2007, Peepolykus Theatre Company premiered a new adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. Adapted by John Nicholson and Steven Canny, the production involves only three actors and was praised by critics for its physical comedy. Following a U.K. tour, it transferred to the Duchess Theatre in London’s West End. The Daily Telegraph described it as a ‘wonderfully delightful spoof’, whilst The Sunday Times praised its ‘mad hilarity that will make you feel quite sane’. This adaptation continues to be presented by both amateur and professional companies around the world.

One of the most famous stories ever written, in 2003, the book was listed as number 128 of 200 on the BBC’s The Big Read poll of the UK’s “best-loved novel”. In 1999, a poll of “Sherlockians” ranked it as the best of the four Holmes novels.
The trio arrive at Baskerville Hall, which has a married couple, the Barrymores, as butler and housekeeper. The estate is surrounded by the moor and borders the Grimpen Mire, where anyone can sink into mud to their death. Meanwhile, convicted murderer Selden has escaped from Dartmoor Prison and is hiding on the moor.Stage performances have also been performed in the U.K. in dramatisations by Joan Knight, Claire Malcolmson, Harry Meacher, and Roger Sansom, among others. Meacher’s version has been produced three times, each time with himself the actor playing Holmes. Weller (2002) believes that Baskerville Hall is based on one of three possible houses on or near Dartmoor: Fowelscombe in the parish of Ugborough, the seat of the Fowell Baronets; Hayford Hall, near Buckfastleigh (also owned by John King (d.1861) of Fowelscombe) and Brook Hall, in the parish of Buckfastleigh, about two miles east of Hayford, the actual home of Richard Cabell. It has also been claimed that Baskerville Hall is based on a property in Mid Wales, built in 1839 by one Thomas Mynors Baskerville. The house was formerly named Clyro Court and was renamed Baskerville Hall towards the end of the 19th century. Arthur Conan Doyle was apparently a family friend who often stayed there and may have been aware of a local legend of the hound of the Baskervilles. Watson investigates the unknown man and discovers that it is Holmes, who is close to solving the mystery. He reveals that the hound is real and belongs to Stapleton, who promised Laura marriage and convinced her to lure Sir Charles out of his house at night, in order to frighten him with the animal. Stapleton is actually Rodger Baskerville. Hoping to inherit the family estate, he has plotted to kill his relations using a vicious hound which he has painted with phosphorus to appear sinister. The superstitious Sir Charles suffered a heart attack after being frightened by the animal. Beryl turns out to be Stapleton’s wife, abused and forced into posing as his sister so as to influence Sir Henry and expose him to the hound. The hound kills a man on the moor whom Holmes and Watson fear is Sir Henry, but turns out to be Selden instead. Barrymore, his brother-in-law, had given him Sir Henry’s clothes.

James Lynam Molloy, a friend of Doyle’s, and author of “Love’s Old Sweet Song”, married Florence Baskerville, daughter of Henry Baskerville of Crowsley Park, Oxfordshire. The gates to the park had statues of hell hounds, spears through their mouths. Above the lintel there was another statue of a hell hound.

There are strange events during the first night, keeping Sir Henry and Watson awake. In the daylight, they explore the neighbourhood and meet its residents. Watson faithfully sends details of his investigations to Holmes. Among the residents, the Stapletons, brother and sister, stand out: Jack is overfriendly and curious toward the newcomers, while Beryl seems weary of the place and attempts to warn Sir Henry of danger.
Still other tales claim that Conan Doyle was inspired by a holiday in North Norfolk, where the tale of Black Shuck is well known. The pre-Gothic Cromer Hall, where Conan Doyle stayed, also closely resembles Doyle’s vivid descriptions of Baskerville Hall.

Is Baskerville Hall in Devon?
The story is set on Dartmoor in Devon, but the real life Baskervilles owned a country mansion in Wales, often visited by Conan Doyle himself.
In July 2020, Lions Den Theatre released a new adaptation of the novel written and directed by Keith Morrison on the company’s YouTube channel. An early version of the play was performed in various locations around Nova Scotia in 2018.The Hound of the Baskervilles has been adapted for radio for the BBC by Bert Coules on two occasions. The first starred Roger Rees as Holmes and Crawford Logan as Watson and was broadcast in 1988 on BBC Radio 4. Following its good reception, Coules proposed further radio adaptations, which eventually led to the 1989–1998 radio series of dramatisations of the entire canon, starring Clive Merrison as Holmes and Michael Williams as Watson. The second adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, featuring this pairing, was broadcast in 1998, and also featured Judi Dench as Mrs. Hudson and Donald Sinden as Sir Charles Baskerville.Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote this story shortly after returning to his home Undershaw in Surrey from South Africa, where he had worked as a volunteer physician at the Langman Field Hospital in Bloemfontein during the Second Boer War. He had not written about Sherlock Holmes in eight years, having killed off the character in the 1893 story “The Final Problem”. Although The Hound of the Baskervilles is set before the latter events, two years later Conan Doyle brought Holmes back for good, explaining in “The Adventure of the Empty House” that Holmes had faked his own death. As a result, the character of Holmes occupies a liminal space between being alive and dead which further lends to the gothic elements of the novel.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third of the four crime novels by British writer Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set in 1889 largely on Dartmoor in Devon in England’s West Country and tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound of supernatural origin. Holmes and Watson investigate the case. This was the first appearance of Holmes since his apparent death in “The Final Problem”, and the success of The Hound of the Baskervilles led to the character’s eventual revival.
The novel was adapted as an episode of CBS Radio Mystery Theater. The episode, which aired in 1977, starred Kevin McCarthy as Holmes and Lloyd Battista as Watson.In 2011, Big Finish Productions released their adaptation of the book as part of their second series of Holmes dramas. Holmes was played by Nicholas Briggs, and Watson was played by Richard Earl.

The novel incorporates five plots: the ostensible ‘curse’ story, the two red-herring subplots concerning Selden and the other stranger living on the moor, the actual events occurring to Baskerville as narrated by Watson, and the hidden plot to be discovered by Holmes. The structure of the novel starting and ending in the familiar setting in London is used to ‘delimit the uncanny world associated with the Gothic landscape of the moors’, with varying degrees of success. Doyle wrote that the novel was originally conceived as a straight ‘Victorian creeper’ (as seen in the works of J. Sheridan Le Fanu), with the idea of introducing Holmes as the deus ex machina only arising later.
A dramatisation of the novel by Felix Felton aired on the BBC Light Programme in 1958 as part of the 1952–1969 radio series, with Carleton Hobbs as Sherlock Holmes and Norman Shelley as Dr. Watson. A different production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, also adapted by Felton and starring Hobbs and Shelley with a different supporting cast, aired in 1961 on the BBC Home Service.Distant howls and strange sightings start troubling Watson. He grows suspicious of the butler Barrymore, who at night signals from a window with a candle to someone on the moor. Sir Henry is drawn to Beryl, who is afraid of her brother’s attitude to any relationship. Meanwhile, Dr. Mortimer is eager to convince Sir Henry that the curse is real; Frankland, an old and grumpy neighbour, likes to pry on others with his telescope; his estranged daughter Laura has unclear ties to Sir Charles; and an unknown man roams free on the moor and apparently hides on a tor where ancient tombs have been excavated by Mortimer.In December 2022, The Hound of the Baskervilles was adapted and conducted as a “concert drama” by Neil Brand, with the music directed by Timothy Brock, and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Mark Gatiss and Sanjeev Bhaskar played Holmes and Watson, respectively. The production was recorded at the Barbican Hall on December 20, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on January 22, 2023.The story was also adapted by Meiser as six episodes of The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson. The episodes aired in January and February 1941.Edith Meiser adapted the novel as six episodes of the radio series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The episodes aired in February and March 1932, with Richard Gordon as Sherlock Holmes and Leigh Lovell as Dr. Watson. Another dramatisation of the story aired in November and December 1936, with Gordon as Holmes and Harry West as Watson.The Hound of the Baskervilles is utilised in the final case in The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures in which the protagonist teams up with Herlock Sholmes (Sherlock Holmes in the original Japanese version) to investigate mysteries based on various entries in the Holmes chronology. In particular, the manuscript of The Hound of the Baskervilles is a key part of the case.

Is Baskerville in Dartmoor?
Explore Baskerville country in Dartmoor, Devon with our day out guide.
An old legend tells of a curse that reputedly runs in the Baskerville family since the time of the English Civil War, when Sir Hugo Baskerville was killed by a demonic hound, which has haunted the mires of Dartmoor ever since, causing the premature death of many Baskerville heirs. One day, Sir Charles Baskerville, who takes the legend seriously, is found dead in the yew alley of his estate, Baskerville Hall, in the midst of Dartmoor. The death is attributed to a heart attack, but his face retains an expression of horror, and not far from his body are the footprints of a gigantic hound. Dr James Mortimer, a friend of Sir Charles’, fears for the next in line, Sir Henry Baskerville.In London, he asks for the aid of Sherlock Holmes, who dismisses the curse as nonsense. However, he agrees to meet Sir Henry, who is arriving from Canada, where he has been living. A young man, Sir Henry is sceptical about the legend and eager to take possession of Baskerville Hall, in spite of receiving an anonymous note, warning him to stay away from the moor. Later, someone shadows him while he is walking down a street. Holmes asks Watson to go with Sir Henry and Mortimer to Dartmoor, in order to protect the heir and investigate who is following him.

Holmes decides to use Baskerville as bait to catch Stapleton red-handed. He tells Sir Henry to accept an invitation to Stapleton’s house and walk back after dark, giving his enemy every chance to unleash the hound on him. Holmes and Watson pretend to leave Dartmoor by train but instead hide near Stapleton’s house with Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard. Despite the thick fog, Holmes and Watson manage to kill the hound when it attacks Sir Henry. They find Beryl tied up in Stapleton’s house, while Stapleton himself, in his panicked flight from the scene, seemingly drowns in the mire. Back in London, Holmes remarks that not only was Stapleton a physical and spiritual throwback to Sir Hugo Baskerville, being a lost relation of Sir Charles, but also that he was one of the most formidable foes Holmes had ever encountered.
Ken Ludwig authored an adaptation entitled Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery which premiered as a co-production at Arena Stage (Washington, D.C.) in January 2015 and McCarter Theatre Center in March 2015.He was assisted with the legend of the hound and local colour by a Daily Express journalist named Bertram Fletcher Robinson (1870–1907), with whom he explored Dartmoor in June, 1901, and to whom was paid a 1⁄3 royalty that amounted to over 500 pounds by the end of 1901.The Hound of the Baskervilles was first serialised in The Strand Magazine in 1901. It was well-suited for this type of publication, as individual chapters end in cliffhangers. It was printed in the United Kingdom as a novel in March 1902 by George Newnes Ltd. It was published in the same year in the United States by McClure, Philips & Co.

Is Hound of Baskervilles set in Dartmoor?
Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set in 1889 largely on Dartmoor in Devon in England’s West Country and tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound of supernatural origin.
The Hound of the Baskervilles was adapted as three episodes of the American radio series The Classic Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, with John Patrick Lowrie as Holmes and Lawrence Albert as Watson. The episodes first aired in March 2008.

What are the mythical creatures in Dartmoor?
Pixies in Dartmoor Legends Their name tends to imply a daintier and more fairy-like image. However, Dartmoor pixies are small and earthy creatures, dressed in rags or leaves. Dartmoor legends often tell of Pixies coming out at night from their homes in caves, holes and rock formations.
His ideas came from the legend of Squire Richard Cabell of Brook Hall, in the parish of Buckfastleigh, Devon, which was the fundamental inspiration for the Baskerville tale of a hellish hound and a cursed country squire. Cabell’s tomb survives in the town of Buckfastleigh.In 1902, Doyle’s original manuscript of the book was broken up into individual leaves as part of a promotional campaign by Doyle’s American publisher – they were used in window displays by individual booksellers. Out of an estimated 185–190 leaves, only 37 are known still to exist, including all the leaves from Chapter 11, held by the New York Public Library. Other leaves are owned by university libraries and private collectors.

In 2021 an adaption for the stage by Steven Canny and John Nicholson for Peepolykus, directed by Tim Jackson & Lotte Wakeman toured the UK produced by Original Theatre Company and Bolton’s Octagon Theatre. It was a continuation the adaptation that was directed by Lotte Wakeman for English Theatre, Frankfurt, Jermyn St Theatre and Octagon, Bolton.
Cabell lived for hunting, and was what in those days was described as a “monstrously evil man”. He gained this reputation, amongst other things, for immorality and having sold his soul to the Devil. There was also a rumour that he had murdered his wife, Elizabeth Fowell, a daughter of Sir Edmund Fowell, 1st Baronet (1593–1674), of Fowelscombe. On 5 July 1677, he died and was buried in the sepulchre. The night of his interment saw a phantom pack of hounds come baying across the moor to howl at his tomb. From that night on, he could be found leading the phantom pack across the moor, usually on the anniversary of his death. If the pack were not out hunting, they could be found ranging around his grave howling and shrieking. To try to lay the soul to rest, the villagers built a large building around the tomb, and to be doubly sure a huge slab was placed.Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles is a casual game by Frogwares. It departs from the original plot by introducing clear supernatural elements. Despite its non-canonical plot, it received good reviews.

In 2014, L.A. Theatre Works released their production, starring Seamus Dever as Holmes, Geoffrey Arend as Watson, James Marsters as Sir Henry, Sarah Drew as Beryl Stapleton, Wilson Bethel as Stapleton, Henri Lubatti as Dr. Mortimer, Christopher Neame as Sir Charles and Frankland, Moira Quirk as Mrs. Hudson & Mrs. Barrymore, and Darren Richardson as Barrymore.When he finally penned The Hound of the Baskervilles from the Duchy Hotel in Princetown, now the Highland Moorland Visitor Centre, he wove the real people, places and legends of Dartmoor into a tale so gripping it would become his most famous and celebrated work. Over the green squares of the fields and the low curve of a wood there rose in the distance a grey, melancholy hill, with a strange jagged summit, dim and vague in the distance, like some fantastic landscape in a dream.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s description of Dartmoor has captured imaginations for more than 100 years. Fox Tor Mire, a vast shallow amphitheatre scarred with abandoned tin mines, is the only contender for Grimpen Mire. As treacherous in real life as it is in fiction, I joined a guided walk with David Brookes, who plays Sherlock Holmes in the Baskerville Dining Experience.“The longer one stays here,” Watson had written to Holmes, “the more does the spirit of the moor sink into one’s soul, its vastness, and also its grim charm.” Sitting on the very spot Conan Doyle forged his tale more than a century ago, I can’t help but agree.

What kind of place is Fox Tor Mires?
Said to have been the inspiration for Grimpen Mire in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, Foxtor Mires is a large area of bog, waterbelly moorland and streams set within a natural amphitheatre below the high ground of Ter Hill, Fox Tor and Crane Hill. Cached
“A false step yonder means death to man or beast,” the fictional Stapleton had warned. David, our guide, is under no illusions: “Keep to the tufts,” he warned as I gingerly stepped in his footprints, “and if you get worried at any time just shout and we’ll stop.” I was more than a little unnerved. Our steps alternated from springy peat to deep spongy moss that began to pull us under, as Watson said: “as if some malignant hand was tugging us down into those obscene depths.”The glorious weather was unlike anything I’d seen before on Dartmoor and it was hard to conjure the grim mist-hugged quagmire on which Conan Doyle’s thriller unfolds. Yet even in the sun, the mire had an eerie quality – the tufts of grass strangely pale against a bold and cloudless sky.

Patches of moss and still pools hint at the true nature of the mire, which in the book swallows ponies whole and in real life is notorious with walkers.
Compelled by his friend Bertram Fletcher Robinson’s tales of monstrous characters, escaped convicts, demonic hounds and desperate inheritance battles, the author visited Dartmoor in 1901. It is said he walked 16-18 miles a day here, scouting for locations in which to set his fiction.

Noting the likely location of Lafter Hall (Laughter Hole House), David believes that the “jagged pinnacle of granite” on which Watson spots the mysterious moonlit silhouette of Holmes can only be Bellever Tor.
Once safely across, we came to a lichen-covered granite cross. David tells me that the cross commemorates Childe the Hunter, an 11th century Saxon earl who became stranded by a blizzard. In an attempt to stay alive, he disembowelled his pony and crawled inside, scrawling a message in blood to say that whoever buried his body in hallowed ground could claim his estate. He then froze to death on this spot.Luckily for Baskerville fans, the chilling action unfolds within a patch of Dartmoor some 6 miles across. Putting together your own tour of the locations that inspired Lafter Hall, Merripit House, the jagged peak on which Holmes hides out and the great Grimpen Mire requires but a little detective work and a sense of adventure.

What legends are associated with Dartmoor and the Fox Tor Mire?
Childe’s Tombe lies on the fringe of Fox Tor Mire, about half a mile from Whiteworks. How did it come to be there and what is the story behind it? The story of Childe the hunter is one of the best known legends of Dartmoor.
As we walk, David recounts more Dartmoor legends, including a tale about Squire Richard Cabell, a monstrously evil man who lived in Brook Manor, north of Buckfastleigh, in the 17th century. The squire would gallop across Dartmoor accompanied by hounds the size of ponies. When he died, the villagers buried him in Holy Trinity Church in Buckfastleigh, but that night a phantom, fire-breathing pack of dogs came baying across the moor to howl at his tomb.As the sun lowers in the sky, we scramble to the summit and survey Baskerville Country. To the south-west lies Princetown, where the author wrote under the brooding shadow of the prison. Further still lies the vast mire and all around the “desolate, lifeless moor” that captivated Conan Doyle stretches to the horizon.

Childe’s Tombe lies on the fringe of Fox Tor Mire, about half a mile from Whiteworks. How did it come to be there and what is the story behind it?The story of Childe the hunter is one of the best known legends of Dartmoor.
At first Childe tried to battle his way through the blinding snow until finally, both he and his horse being almost exhausted, he decided to try to wait out the storm. Eventually when hope had almost vanished, Childe in desperation, slew his horse, disembowelled it and climbed inside seeking the last vestiges of warmth, but to no avail.

Now, by the terms of Childe’s will, wheresoever he was buried, to that church would his lands belong, so the monks of Tavistock Abbey were delighted, and determined that Childe would be buried in Tavistock at the Abbey Church.On hearing of the proposed ambush, the monks of Tavistock returned by a different route, erecting a simple bridge over the Tavy to enable them to do so. The people of Plymstock had been deceived by guile and thus the bridge which had been erected became known as Guilebridge. It is also said that originally Childe’s tomb bore this inscription:

As the body of Childe the Hunter is supposed to have been buried in Tavistock it seems probable that Childe’s tomb must mark the spot where his body was found.
Childe the Hunter, who held fairly extensive lands in Plymstock and thus was quite a rich man, was also a very enthusiastic hunter who did not scorn to hunt alone at all times of the year on Dartmoor. One day Childe, whilst out hunting was caught in a blizzard which made further travel extremely difficult.At that time there was great rivalry and some ill feeling between Plymstock and Tavistock and furthermore, the people of Plymstock felt that, as Childe had been a Plymstock man, his lands should rightly belong to them. They duly assembled at the bridge over the river Tavy across which the monks of Tavistock would have to pass. They were intent on gaining the body of Childe and thus ensuring that his lands remained the property of Plymstock Priory.

The walk is based on an exploration of FH (Harry) Starkey in Exploring Dartmoor, revised edition 1988: Exploration 10 – Whitewoks, Fox Tor Mire, Childe’s Tomb, Fox Tor, Nun’s Cross Farm, Peat Cot. We took a different direction after Fox Tor by going east instead of west.
Drift Gate, the gateway to the beyond – Fox Tor Mire, or Grimpen Mire – this is said to be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s inspiration for the famous mire in Hound of the Baskervilles.

An oddity bearing a number “4”, at SX 62846 70982 � 3 metres, about 10 metres from the following cist ….. it may be an old bore hole from the 1970’s when there was a proposal to flood the Swincombe valley for a new reservoir.The bend in the river Swincombe where we valiantly made a river crossing, with the dry leat running across the slope approx. halfway up and with the clapper bridge visible to the left of the stone wall running up the hill. An alternative crossing point is at Headweir Ford (Harvey map), somewhere near SX 62270 70980, where there is a path back to Whiteworks.

Another item of interest: Legendary Dartmoor – Grim Mire: says – at one time a path crossed the mire in a direct line from Drift Gate to Little Fox Tor. This old track followed the line of an overgrown reave and was also marked by a line of long gone wooden posts. He does warn that to lose the path along this track would be, “highly dangerous”. This direct line passes over the FB (foot bridge) and by the cist!
The blue lines are the compass or GPS bearings. The red line is the route actually walked: it deviates sometimes from the blue lines to avoid obstacles such as thick bracken, gorse, bogs or clitter, and often to use paths or animal tracks that are not on the map. It may also be shorter than the planned (blue) route if the walk is curtailed for some reason.The finer distinctions between ‘mire’ and ‘bog’ can be seen HERE. A simple distinction is that bogs are fed by rainfall and mires are fed by groundwater springs.The footpath shown on the Ordnance Survey map does not exist today. The orange-topped posts across the mire mentioned in Starkey’s book are also gone. There is, however, an interesting “FB” across the stream in the middle of the mire – a path must have gone across here at some time – this might be worth researching for future crossings?

This walk: 2010-6-24. Fox Tor Mire, Whiteworks, Devonport leat, Whiteworks Farm, mine shafts, Drift Gate, Goldsmith’s Cross, cist 1 – The Gold Box, Fox Tor, Childe’s Tomb, Fox Tor Girt, dry Wheal Emma Leat, River Swincombe, cist 2, cist 3, DPA – Dartmoor Preservation Association.
Zoomed view to civilisation, at Whiteworks! The cottage on the left is a 20-bed bunkhouse owned by Plymouth College and is leased out for Outward Bound-type activities (currently �55 per night).

The walk was accessed from Princetown by following Tor Royal Lane down to Whiteworks. There is a small car park (with three spaces?) in a small quarry by the bridge over the leat, marked by the yellow cross on the map. Otherwise, there is a larger quarry further back on the road.This page records the crossing of Fox Tor Mire on a hot, grey day ….. crossings are not to be undertaken lightly. Some guides can take parties across even in winter or at night when it is very wet. On June 30th, one of us (KR) went across a second time and a colleague thrust a 6 ft. bamboo straight down into the bog! There is a safe path but it moves with the bog each year.

What is the Grimpen Mire in Hounds of Baskerville?
The Grimpen Mire was a vast bog, deep in the heart of Dartmoor in Devon. It was, in local lore, connected to the legend of the hellhound which terrorised the Baskerville family in “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. The mire was located in an especially isolated part of the region, and there were few nearby settlements.
The ponies on Dartmoor aren’t wild animals. They all belong to farmers. Many years ago they were used to transport things like food, wool and tin across the moor or they worked in the mines.

Several rivers start on Dartmoor, including the Dart and the Teign. They start out very small, but grow quickly. Rivers on Dartmoor have otters and salmon living in them.
National Parks were created by The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. Dartmoor National Park is created from land owned by a range of people including lots of farmers and The Duchy of Cornwall (Prince Charles). Some of the land, including Haytor, belongs to Dartmoor National Park Authority.Dartmoor National park is 368 square miles or 954 square kilometres. It’s about 20 miles from North to South and 20 miles from East to West. That means it’s roughly the same size as London, or about the same size as 20,000 football pitches. It is said that Cutty Dryer accosts drunks on their way home, and throws them in the river. He even sometimes slits their throats and drinks their blood before throwing them in. Halfway through the prayer service, a strange mist began to form over the spot where Sir William was buried. The mist slowly took the shape of a man; Sir William Kingdon himself!A group from Plymstock gathered at the bridge over the River Tavy to intercept the monks of Tavistock. They wanted to gain the body of Childe, and ensure Childe’s lands remained the property of Plymstock Priory.

Fitz and his partner were so grateful to have been spared. They erected a simple well house around the spring to commemorate their good fortune, and the tale was permanently added to Dartmoor’s myths and legends.It was at this time that the Almighty, being furious that this evil man was to be buried on consecrated ground, sent a huge bolt of lightning down to earth.

Back then, people who took their own life were always buried at a crossroads. This was to confuse the spirit of the deceased and to prevent them from haunting the living.
The famous novelist was inspired to write this Sherlock Holmes novel following a stay at the Duchy Hotel in Princetown. Nowadays this hotel is the High Moorland Visitor Centre.Dartmoor National Park is a vast, wild, and unspoilt landscape. It has undoubtedly helped to create and encourage these mysterious parts of Devon’s history.

Where are the tors on Dartmoor?
Tors are where the granite rock that is underneath Dartmoor shows through. There are three visitor centres at Dartmoor, one at Princetown, one at Haytor and one at Postbridge.
In return for his kindness, he asked the monks that upon his death his remains should be buried in the vault of Buckfast Abbey. In addition, he asked that every year on the anniversary of his death, the monks should offer prayers for his soul.It is a said that a mother was travelling with her three children across Dartmoor late at night. When she arrived home, she discovered that one of her children was missing!This mist was not just a natural occurrence; the two travellers were Piskie-led. A mischievous or wronged pixie cast a mist down upon them, and they were utterly lost.The years went by, and every year the same thing would happen. Every year the monks held their silence on the matter and expected the occurrence with uncertain dread. The many myths and legends of Dartmoor open up a window into the past. One generation to the next pass on these age-old Dartmoor myths, via campfire stories to local traditions. Some Dartmoor legends warn of danger, some discourage bad behaviour, and some simply try to explain the unexplainable. Dartmoor National Park is a vast, […] He was out hunting on Dartmoor when he was caught in a terrible blizzard. With nowhere to go and the cold starting to take hold, he slayed his horse and took shelter inside its carcass.

In some versions of this Dartmoor legend, Childe wrote his last will in blood on a nearby granite stone. It stated that whoever found his body and buried it would inherit his estate.
The coffin bearers carried his coffin to be buried at Widecombe Churchyard. The climb up Dartmeet Hill was steep and the coffin bearers stopped for rest.“Conan Doyle visited here and was a family friend,” he explains. “He would have gone out shooting with them, enjoying life in the countryside with them. He asked permission of the Baskervilles to use the family’s history of the house and grounds in the story.

Inside the mansion, the grand staircase perfectly matches a passage in the novel which reads: “A square balustraded gallery ran round the top of the old hall, approached by a double stair.”
For Eurwyn Jones, the case is closed: “There are many places that lay a claim to being the inspiration for this book, but for me there’s no more compelling evidence than this document and this building. It’s elementary!”.

“They were a noble family and they didn’t want Conan Doyle writing stories in the newspapers in London. But Conan Doyle enjoyed walking all over the country. He knew the Lake District, the Peak District, the Brecon Beacons and Dartmoor. So it was easy enough for him to set it on Dartmoor instead”.In the novel, Sir Charles Baskerville dies of a heart attack when he encounters the hound in a wooded area near the Hall: Yew Alley. The real life Baskerville Hall has an alley of yew trees that mirror the novel’s description.

Is The Grimpen Mire a real place?
In his book Conan Doyle called this place Grimpen Mire but he was in fact writing about a real place called Foxtor Mires on Dartmoor which he had visited – he just changed its name. Cached
The paperwork relates to the sale of two farms to Ralph Hopton Baskerville. There are two signatures clearly visible on the document: RH Baskerville and Arthur Conan Doyle. Conan Doyle himself owned land in the area and his first wife also had strong links to Wales.Foxtor Mire is one of the most well known boggy places on Dartmoor. Its history is due to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his novel The Hound of the Baskervilles who used Foxtor Mire in this book and renamed it Grimpen Mire. It is a very boggy place and it isn’t wise to head across this area without knowing where you are going. There is a path across, however after heavy rain it becomes unpassable unless you have waders!! One end of the path can be found at Goldsmiths Cross however it is wise to leave the mire to Sir Arthur’s hounds and skirt around.

Eric Hemery describes Fox Tor “The two northern piles of the tor, one bearing a shallow rock basin, constitute Eden Phillpott’s “twin turrets”, while the southern pile, the point of the triangle, possesses an object of great interest in the fallen summit-rock that bears on its surface two large basins like eye-sockets in the skull of a mammoth greater than pre-history ever knew. The larger of these two hollows has a diameter of three feet.” Crossing provides even less detail, but there is so much more to enjoy here. The main pile of the tor is a conspicuous and most welcome sight when seen from the desolate and featureless morass to the south. The major part of the tor sprawls on the north side and the highest rocks look out to the aforementioned mire and below just beyond the newtake wall in an area known as Sand Parks, is the curious memorial cross known as Childe’s Tomb at SX 624701.

Situated to the south of Whiteworks Tin Mine and the enigmatic Fox Tor Mires, this tor has three main outcrops. It is a wonderful tor, with interesting outcrops, one of which is known as ‘The Mammoth Skull’; a toppled piece of granite with two rock basins resembling sunken eyes. There is also the remains of an old letterbox site amid the summit rocks. Letterboxing is still a popular pastime reaching its peak in the late 1980s early 90s when literally thousands of boxes were secreted across the moor mostly hidden under rocks. But not everyone is a fan, Hemery included, and as a result the hobby has attracted some criticism with instances of unmaintained boxes and the use of inappropriate sites. That said it still provides people with an excellent opportunity to explore and enjoy different parts of the moor with the added incentive of collecting ink impressions of rubber stamps. Godfrey Swinscow, who was the head of Letterboxing for many years and instigator of the popular 100 club, passed away in 2018 aged 99 years.
The author explains that to his memory a tomb was erected to Childe “in a plain a little below Fox Tor” and that it was “composed of hewn granite, the under basement comprising four stones. 6 feet long by 12 inches square and 8 stones more, growing shorter as the pile ascended, with an octagonal basement above 3 feet high and a cross fixed in it. The whole, when perfect wore an antique and impressive appearance.” No excursion to Fox Tor would be complete without a visit to the tomb that can be easily reached through a small gateway in the wall to the north.

We are proud to see the names of lesser known tors are now being used more commonly on other websites and whilst this is to be encouraged we do request that, should you wish to use the information on this page, you provide a backlink to the website as reference, by copying the relevant address:Fox Tor is quite a small tor with a large past. It sits on the edge of one of the most notorious boggy areas on Dartmoor, Foxtor Mires and is surrounded by higher ground. With Ter Hill to the north and Crane Hill to the south and east you would think that the views would be limiting. However the views across the mires to Whiteworks and northwest towards the northern moors are superb. Fox Tor farm was built nearby however the harshness of the terrain made the farm unlivable and it fell into ruin. Childe’s Tomb also sits at the foot of Fox Tor on the way into the mire There are no particularly good ways to this tor, the wisest route is to skirt around the mire to the south approaching from Nun’s Cross. There are no military firing areas near this tor. For example, much of the famous novel The Hound of the Baskervilles takes place in what Conan Doyle calls the great Grimpen Mire. It didn’t occur to me until just the other day to wonder exactly who or what “grimpen” means. Grimpen is the Word of the Day. Any way you look at it, a Grimpen (or grimpen) Mire is not a pleasant place. “A false step yonder means death to man or beast. Only yesterday I saw one of the moor ponies wander into it. He never came out. I saw his head for quite a long time craning out of the bog-hole, but it sucked him down at last. Even in dry seasons it is a danger to cross it.”So, what is “grimpen” (or “Grimpen”)? Elementary, my dear reader. Conan Doyle capitalizes the word so, for him, it was a proper name. The mire – a marsh, bog, or area of swampy ground – was in or near the hamlet of Grimpen, in the heart of the Dartmoor region, in the county of Devon in southwest England. In the story, the demon dog of the title lived in the Grimpen Mire.William S. Baring-Gould, arguably the world’s greatest Sherlockian scholar, wrote in his wonderful 1967 Annotated Sherlock Holmes that Conan Doyle was obviously thinking of Grimspound Bog on Dartmoor when he created the great Grimpen Mire.Of course, if we let our investigation end there, we would be no better at deduction than the stolid but not particularly insightful Doctor Watson. Conan Doyle wrote of the great Grimpen Mire in 1902; in 1940, T.S. Eliot in his poem East Coker wrote about “…a dark wood, in a bramble/On the edge of a grimpen, where there is no secure foothold.” The Oxford English Dictionary added the word in 1972, saying the etymology was “uncertain,” but citing Conan Doyle’s uppercase Grimpen and Eliot’s lower case grimpen as its primary sources. The OED defined a grimpen as “a marshy area.” (So a Grimpen Mire would therefore be “a marshy marsh” or “a boggy bog”). I’m a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories. I have read and re-read the adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s hero more times than I can remember, and I still find little details and minutiae I’ve missed before. The mire was located in an especially isolated part of the region, and there were few nearby settlements. The largest was the hamlet of Grimpen, seat of the parish of the same name, where Dr James Mortimer had his practice. There were also several scattered and isolated farms and houses located around its periphery, including Baskerville Hall, Sir Charles Baskerville’s ancestral house; Merripit House, residence of Jack and Beryl Stapleton; Lafter Hall, home to Mr Frankland; and the farms of High Tor and Foulmire. The nearest town was Coombe Tracey. Dartmoor Prison was located on the edge of the mire, fourteen miles from Grimpen.The Grimpen Mire was a vast bog, deep in the heart of Dartmoor in Devon. It was, in local lore, connected to the legend of the hellhound which terrorised the Baskerville family in “The Hound of the Baskervilles”.

The mire was a misty and wild place. Watson describes it as “melancholy”. It was surrounded by many large rock formations, among them Black, Vixen, and Belliver Tors. There were numerous Neolithic archaeological sites, including the ruins of ancient dwellings and barrows. However, it was also quite dangerous due to the bog at its center. Stapleton tells John Watson that “a false step yonder means death to man or beast”, and recounts how he saw a stray pony get sucked into the bog. It appeared that only Stapleton was able to cross the Mire safely; however, it was discovered he had marked where to step on the mire with sticks but discouraged Watson going there as he may discover Stapleton’s plans. The Grimpen Mire was also known to be where the Hound was kenneled. Upon inspection of the Mire, phosphoros is found which gave the hound its terrifying appearance. At the end of the case, Stapleton himself is believed to have died after trying to cross the bog. This is seen as a logical surmise as the footsteps of Stapleton stopped suddenly.
For all you Sherlock Holmes fans, Foxtor Mire near Princetown is believed to be the inspiration for the famous “Grimpen Mire” discovered by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle while travelling around Dartmoor researching his famous novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles” with his good friend Bertram Fletcher Robinson.Now we are in a position to sum up what a mire is based on all of the information looked at – water-logged marshy and boggy areas of deep peat that have formed in hollows or valleys on Dartmoor.

For information a cairn is a pile of stones of prehistoric origin (so before the Roman occupation of Britain) that formed a monument, tombstone or perhaps a landmark to guide travellers crossing the area. Similarly a cairn cross is a cross made of stone and a cairn circle a stone circle and a cist (pronounced ‘kist’) a granite lined coffin dug into the peat topped with a horizontal slab of the same rock.Peat is a damp, dark soil that is made of organic matter such as plants, mosses and even trees that hasn’t decayed properly. Over millions of years it can build up to become many metres deep.

For plants and animals mires are very challenging habitats or natural homes in which to live because the peat soils are very acidic (have a pH below 7), waterlogged (filled or soaked with water) and lacking in nutrients such as nitrogen. As a result any flora (plants) and fauna (animals) that live in mires have to be adapted or particularly suited to survive in such conditions.
In his book Conan Doyle called this place Grimpen Mire but he was in fact writing about a real place called Foxtor Mires on Dartmoor which he had visited – he just changed its name.Distribute copies of Resource 1 (PDF) and explain to the students that what they are about to read together is a description of a mire taken from a very famous novel about the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes called ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ written by Arthur Conan Doyle and published in 1902. Before moving on show the students the film of someone walking across Foxtor Mires (a very dangerous thing to attempt if you do not have a detailed knowledge of the place). Next show the students the short film ‘Magnificent Mires’ produced by Devon Wildlife Trust. The narrator says about the mires ‘that you must be tough and remarkable to live here’. In addition to the five species that the students have already considered how many others are shown in the film living in the mire habitat?Further detail about Dartmoor’s bogs and mires, and their relationship to other types of wetland habitat together with associated species and some of the challenges of managing these environments can be found in our bogs and wetlands factsheet. Distribute copies of six plants and animals that are commonly found in the mires of Dartmoor in Resource 3 (PDF). Divide the students into pairs and encourage each to speculate about how each is adapted or particularly suited to living in mires. Students should be helped to reach the conclusion that Foxtor Mires is in a hollow or valley between two hills into which four rivers flow making it a very marshy and boggy place.Read through the extract several times with the students ensuring understanding of key vocabulary particularly that is used to describe the features, smells, textures of the mire along with the emotions of those who were experiencing trying to walk across it.

What does Grimpen mean?
The OED defined a grimpen as “a marshy area.” (So a Grimpen Mire would therefore be “a marshy marsh” or “a boggy bog”).
Now return to the map in Resource 2 and ask the students to see if there are any clues suggesting what the soil might be like in the area of Foxtor Mires? What does the word ‘peat’ mean, as in the name ‘Peat Cot’ on the map?To visit, head for the many small car parking areas off the road that runs between Princetown and Whiteworks. Follow one of the good paths to Nun’s or Siward’s Cross and Nun’s Cross Farm. From there, walk along the side of the leat until you come to a farm wall that runs east above the mire. Grass tracks extend on either side of the wall over to Ter Hill. The terrain is good. You have to cross a couple of small streams. Alternatively, just follow the leat from the Whiteworks area and you’ll come to the aforementioned farm wall from the opposite direction.

Points of interest south of the mire include Goldsmith’s Cross, a cairn circle and cist and Childe’s Tomb. On the rise of moorland are the remains of Foxtor Farm and Fox Tor. Note the old Buckfast to Tavistock Monastic Route passes through here. There are more crosses up on Mount Misery and Ter Hill to the east and over at Nun’s of Siward’s Cross to the west. A path of sorts also climbs to Black Lane Peat Pass and the south plateau. This is marked on the Ordnance Survey map. To us, it feels like the most remote part of Dartmoor. If you’re heading this way, detour to Duck’s Pool.
We’ve positioned Foxtor Mires on Google maps so zoom in on the ‘Satellite’ setting to see its location. Pull and push around that satellite imagery on your screen and you’ll see why it’s such an intimidating place.

There are some places on Dartmoor that are best avoided. Raybarrow Pool by Cosdon Hill on the north moor is a dangerous place. Down on the edge of the National Park’s south plateau, Foxtor Mires is another. Said to have been the inspiration for Grimpen Mire in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, Foxtor Mires is a large area of bog, waterbelly moorland and streams set within a natural amphitheatre below the high ground of Ter Hill, Fox Tor and Crane Hill. There are some fine crosses, cairns and cists on good, solid land just south of the mires so it’s well worth visiting. We just wouldn’t recommend trying to cross it.
Again, we wouldn’t recommend crossing the mires. That said, there are routes which, roughly speaking, follow the paths marked on both the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 ‘Dartmoor’ map and the Harvey British Mountain Map ‘Dartmoor’ map. There’s a narrow wood ‘bridge’ that spans the main stream south of Whiteworks and this is key to a safe crossing. Start from Whiteworks. Wander down to the edge of the works. You pass through a set of gateposts. A noticeable track curls south west. The ‘bridge’ is located on a bend in the stream. The Ordnance Survey map is pretty accurate. You can also just about see it on Google’s satellite mapping. Getting there, however, is difficult. Having spent years walking and photographing Dartmoor, we’ve never found a solid path north of the stream and ‘bridge’. Our preferred route has been to follow the shape of the path on the Ordnance Survey and Harvey maps. Go too far and you’re in a horrible area where it’s like walking on jelly. Once over the ‘bridge’, we’d suggest you follow a good path that runs up to Goldsmith’s Cross. For this path, head for a mound just south of the ‘bridge’ and continue south until the path curves up to Goldsmith’s Cross which is clearly visible ahead of you. The path marked on the Ordnance Survey map crosses a stretch of boggy ground with tall grass. It’s unpleasant until you’re a fair distance from the stream. Once you hit the 360 contour line on the Ordnance Survey map, it’s easy stuff. Unless you can’t help yourself, avoid. There are numerous mires and bogs on Dartmoor, several of them can be treacherous places to wander into but of them all Fox Tor Mires is (undeservedly) the most notorious. It has been said that the mires are twenty feet deep and have sucked many a man and beast down … I’d say this route is a fairly easy one, as long as you’re comfortable with the distance. The route is mostly flat, with only a short incline up to Fox Tor. A great one for beginners or more seasoned hikers looking for a leisurely stroll. From Fox Tor, we could see a small cottage on the hill to the left of Whiteworks. This was Nun’s Cross Farm, our next location on the map. This part of the hike is fairly easy as the path follows the hillside towards the farm and as the ground is high, it’s also dry under foot. Dartmoor National Park is on our doorstep. We live in East Devon, just one hour’s drive from the sweeping vistas of Dartmoor in South West England, one of the UK’s renowned beauty spots. And yet, it took us four years to actually visit Dartmoor and even longer to really start exploring it. Now we’ve spent some time getting to know the national park, we can’t get enough of the various Dartmoor hiking trails and I wanted to write about one we did recently which took us from Princetown to Fox Tor and back in a circular route.

The scenery on this hike is beautiful with vast rolling hills and open plains. You can really get a sense of how rugged Dartmoor is as you look out across the untouched landscape. And what’s more, this is one of the lesser known spots on Dartmoor, so if you want to avoid people (social distancing!), this is a great spot to enjoy nature to yourself.I love spending time in Devon and Cornwall, but not spent much time on Dartmoor at all really. We’re hoping to be exploring the south-west later on this summer. Maybe I should consider planning in a hiking day. Looks glorious. Fun fact: It was, in fact, this very mire that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write about the Grimpen Mires, the fictional lair of the infamous hound in the Sherlock Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Following the path, we eventually came to a semi-steep but short incline which led up to Fox Tor. At this point, we decided to skip Childe’s Tomb and head straight up the hill to the tor to enjoy the view from the top with a cup of coffee and some snacks. Whenever we do a hike together, Jamie always brings his gas stove, camping mugs and some coffee so we can stop and have a hot cup of coffee at a nice viewpoint. And on this occasion, Fox Tor was the perfect location for a pitstop. We opted for a 10-ish mile hike starting at Princetown and heading down to Whiteworks, the location of an old disused tin mine. We’d then planned to hike across Fox Tor Mires to Childe’s Tomb, up to Fox Tor and over to Nun’s Cross Farm before heading back along the road to Princetown. We really enjoyed this easy Dartmoor hike, especially after two months of lockdown and being confined to our small town. We both love Dartmoor and there are endless possibilities for day, weekend or even long-distance multi-day hikes, but if you’re looking for an easy ramble through untouched countryside, this would be a great hike to start on.I’ve never been that far north! It’s my goal to explore more of my own country in the coming months as soon as possible! Where wouldd you recommend to start in Yorkshire?

Parking at Princetown, we made for Whiteworks via Tor Royal Lane and followed the lane around to the right when you come to Tor Royal, a guesthouse and wedding venue. Follow the road all the way to the end where you’ll come across two houses and a parking area.
The lockdown in the UK has eased slightly over the past few weeks and we’re now allowed to drive to places nearby for unlimited amounts of exercise, as opposed to the one hour a day we were allowed previously. When this new rule came into effect, we knew we’d be taking advantage of the Dartmoor hiking trails on our doorstep, albeit in a responsible manner.