Out and About: Follow the track for historical moor tour
DISTANCE: 5.5 miles, easy/moderate walk
NEAREST REFRESHMENTS: A number of pubs and cafes at Princetown
CAR PARKING: Princetown
THE moors are not a great place to venture during poor weather because the terrain is very boggy in certain areas and even when the rain clears the ground can still be very wet underfoot.
This is why I love the old railway track at Princetown as the sturdy path can be braved in all weathers.
After parking in the main car park at Princetown, turn left at the entrance and then past the old fire station a footpath sign will point to the left. This will take you along a narrow path next to a small fenced field and after a short time you'll emerge onto the railway track, which leads to the right.
The railway was opened in 1883 and ran from Horrabridge through Dousland to Princetown. Yelverton replaced Horrabridge in 1885 and more stops were added to the line in the 1920s and 1930s. The line closed in 1956.
Follow the track and enjoy the beautiful views across Walkhampton Common.
After about a mile you'll see marker stones either side of the track marked PCWW 1917. These are area boundary markers for Burrator Reservoir, dated 1917.
Half a mile after this you'll see a track crossing the one you are on. Go past this and a little further on you'll see a path on your left which will take you to Swelltor Quarry.
You'll notice this path splits into two. Take the one on the left for an easier route which will take you around the tor to a ruined stone house. If you have a good head for heights and sturdy boots, then take the path up to the quarry to enjoy some stunning views. Follow the edge of the quarry to the left and down and you'll also arrive at the ruined stone house.
Swelltor was one of the larger quarries in the area and was operational until the early twentieth century. The ruined stone house was a blacksmith's and as you walk further along this path you'll notice some large carved stones which are partially-finished corbels for the Old London Bridge.
This track leads into the main track and continues with King's Tor on your right, and circles around and back the other side. There is an extra small loop at the end to walk if you wish.
As you circle around the top of the track the views on your left are of Merrivale, which is a large Bronze Age site, but you'll need binoculars to spot most of these remains from here.
After about half a mile you may notice the terrain looks familiar – you're now coming back to the point in the path where you branched off for Swelltor Quarry and the shape of Foggintor Quarry is visible ahead to the left.
Go past the point where you turned off for Swelltor Quarry and take the wide track on your left to Foggintor Quarry. For an easier walk, keep going along the railway line back to Princetown.
Underfoot you may notice granite sleepers which were part of Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt's horse-drawn tramway for transporting granite to Plymouth, before the railway was built.
The quarry track will take you to some ruined buildings, the remains of workers cottages, with far-reaching views over the area you've just walked and King's Tor.
Foggintor started quarrying around 1800 and some of Princetown and the prison is built with this granite. It was also used in Nelson's Column!
At the ruins of the house you can go into the quarry to explore if you wish, or to continue the walk take the small path on the left up the bank. This will take you up the left side of the quarry and give you good views of it – stand far back if you don't like heights!
Once at the top of the hill you'll notice a path taking you back to the railway track. Or for something a little different, another track runs just above the old railway line; however, prepare to get muddy on it.
The upper track joins back onto the main one at the clump of trees near the start of the walk.
Once back at the car park the only choice left is where to have a coffee and piece of cake!
For more Divine Dartmoor Walks visit Gillian's website at www.divinedartmoorwalks.co.uk