Tales from the storyteller with David Phillips:
When I’m walking on Dartmoor, it’s not only letterboxes that I go in search of, sometimes it can be artefacts from a bygone era that are still visible in the landscape.
One such relic is Fuge’s Post...
This post is basically a metal stake hammered into the ground between two rocks with a tethering ring attached to it which would have been used to tether horses.
They would have been placed by Moormen, usually tinners, but in this case a peat cutter, at the end of a track nearest to their supply of 'Black Gold' or peat, which was in great demand, back in the day, as a fuel source.
There are many such 'Ring Rocks' still to be found over the moorland, but this is the only one attached to a stake, usually the rings were stuck into rocks to hold them fast.
It was positioned by a moor farmer by the name of Reg Fuge, who lived at Brousentor Farm, at the foot of nearby Standon Hill, and he, along with other farmers, would ride their horses along well-defined tracks until they reached the field of peat hags, which were harder to traverse on horseback, dismount, tether the horse to their ring and then proceed on foot with pick, shovel and sacks, among the hags, to extract as big a load as their steeds could carry back, before making the return journey.
I’d been aware of Fuge’s Post ever since I started letterboxing, as it had a number of boxes attached to it over the years, but, although I’d walked in its isolated location, I’d never made an attempt to actually find it... until the other weekend.
Armed with a recent clue for a nearby box and a grid reference gleaned from a gazetteer of obscure Dartmoor locations, I set off on my quest.
The closest parking spot is at Baggator, on the edge of one of the army’s firing ranges, which aren’t used during the August school holidays, and also home to one of my targets for the day.
Tracking it down successfully, I went in search of my second victim just below Lynch Tor and near to Limsboro Cairn, which features an army flagpole.
I have fond memories of this tor as it randomly gets mentioned in a Dr Who audio play that states it has a secret government base secreted beneath it!
It just so happened that on the day i was listening to that particular play in my car I was actually on my way to visit that very tor... another of my many weird coincidences I can lay claim to!
Over the years, during my visits to Lynch Tor, I’ve never come across any signs that such a base exists, but at the foot of nearby Standon Hill there is a locked gated entrance into the hillside with impressive stone walls flanking it.
Could this be the way in? Some say it’s just an old mine but the idea must have come from somewhere.
Talking of Standon Hill and the army, I once had an interesting encounter with a range clearer, or should I say his dogs, while walking on the hill with the red flag flying.
I knew what it meant and I knew that the box I was after wasn’t on the range. I just had to pass near the observation post on top the hill to get to it!
Now a range clearer is usually a local farmer who is tasked with the job of keeping livestock and stray walkers off the ranges while the army are firing.
In my opinion, I wasn’t in any particular danger where I was at that particular moment but, before I knew it, I was being rounded up by two sheepdogs and ushered away without a by your leave or any apology from the owner who just stood and watched in silence while his dogs did their job!
Back to my quest... leaving Lynch Tor, via the cairn and flagpole, I went after another box located near an old ruined tinner’s hut called Turf House.
This I found reasonably easily without finding the hut in question. Then it was time for the main event!
Striking north, I picked up a well-worn track called Black Lane (North) close to which, according to the grid reference plotted on my map, the post was situated at a point where the track ran out, presumably where the peat hags started.
Following said track was reasonably easy, slightly boggy in parts due to a wet August, and, after taking a few wrong turns inspecting random rocks as I went, I eventually spotted a group of large rocks ahead with something rust coloured among them.
Sure enough it was my quarry, standing proud after all this time!
Getting close up, I was able to confirm my discovery via the photos I’d seen of it online and proceeded to take some of my own.
Sadly, my search for the nearby letterbox proved fruitless. All I found was a muddy round hole that once might have housed its plastic container.
Then it was time to head home, unfortunately for me without a trusty steed to carry me!
However, I did get some nice pictures of another beautiful moorland sunset along the way...
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