A walk around the Upper Plym

I spent yesterday on the National Trust’s Upper Plym estate carrying out a vegetation monitoring survey – really good to see the heather returning to the blanket bog! Last time I had a really good look there was hardly any heather to be found.

The route I took also makes a really good walk if you want to explore a relatively unknown part of Dartmoor – it is the high moor without footpaths so you need walking boots, a compass and a map but on a day with good visibility it is an good safe walk.

Plym WalkHere is the route I followed – start at the car park by the Blacka Brook, up to Little Trowlesworthy, then to Shell Top, along to Trig point 492, down to Hen Tor, over to Shavercombe Tor and then back to Great Trowlesworthy Tor and to Hexton Tor before back to the car.

Shell TopShell Top looking down to the Plym

Trig 492An isolated place high on the blanket bog

Hen TorHen Tor

Shavercombe TorShavercombe Tor looking north to Sheep’s Tor

Little Trowlesworthy 2The abandoned flag pole base looking towards Little Trowlesworthy Tor

Up the PlymOn Hexton Tor looking up the Plym Valley to its source

Bronze Age HutIt is an area very rich in archaeology – here is a Bronze Age Hut

Pillow moundAnd here is an 18th century ‘pillow mound’ – that is a farmed rabbit warren

2 thoughts on “A walk around the Upper Plym

  1. Hi Adrian we walked around the Plym valley last summer and were saddened by shoulder high Bracken on what looks like potentially good grazing land, overflowing leats with the Devonport stone awaiting a trip to the Column.
    I only know about farming and have had 100 hill cows in Wales from 1966 to 1986 with sheep and some arable .
    It appears to me that the farmers on Dartmoor need a consensus of opinion. There is fact and research available and contractor/ farmers and universities as well as plant breeding stations. There is great knowledge shared by farmers . I have put forward ideas for a consensus and have had positive comments from Commoners from all corners of Dartmoor and no criticism from well read commentators.
    Could you give me your view on whether you think any of the following if produced together with Commoners backing could help find a way by Eustice and Rory Stewart who are in the Upland Alliance arena.


    1 . NZ using genetic data from their cattle have improved exports to China by 460% . U.K. Imports nearly 50% of its food . There is a world market that will buy welfare friendly grass fed beef from the uk uplands.

    At Playfair Farms, we aim to breed superior functional suckler cows, selected for performance and productivity, combining fertility and health to generate profit.

    Our targets are quite simple, to ensure that the end products (finished cattle) meet specifications that the market place requires. In this case our steers must finish off grass at 600kgs, grading R 4 L or better and our heifers 100kgs lighter.

    All Visitors Welcome by Appointment
    Playfair Farms : Tofts Pedigree Livestock : Aberdeen Angus : Beef Shorthorn : Semen and Embryos for Sale : Playfair Farms Butchery : Morebattle, Kelso, Scotland

    2. U.K. Has more acres in unproductive purple moor grass and carcinogenic
    bracken than wheat!
    Conservation research confirms cattle grazing molinia ( purple moor grass) can reduce its area by 60%

    From Mary Alford ( vice chair Dartmoor Commoners)
    3 .Outwintered cattle can trample and reduce bracken by exposing fronds to frost especially when fed cereal or sugar beet cobs in the area. Comment from Mary Alford vice chair Dartmoor commoners. One point I’d like to make is that if you feed cattle with cobs or hay on dead bracken it weakens the growing potential by damaging the rhizome & keeps the bracken short and less dense , BUT I haven’t got any scientific evidence other than my in experience .

    4 .2.5 kg for 180 days at .20p pr kg is about £70 plus crystalix blocks all year round is about £25 pr cow. Cost of keeping a single suckler native (600 to 700 kilos) Spring calving cow on deferred grazing or foggage costs through the winter costs £100. ( on Plynlimon) By the way a couple of kg will support a 500 kg highland cow but I doubt it will support a 700 kg cow unless the grass is much better than mine. You have to think of 2% of body weight in dry matter terms as being the requirement .

    From CEvans., Nantymoch. Plynlimon. 1500 hectares.

    5 . Outwintered cattle can improve habitat and Heather to its former condition as it was 25 years ago. Christina Williams Outwintered Galloways on Molland Moor Exmoor.

    6. CRWNANT-FACH RHOSSES upland field cattle and sheep grazed all the year round for 40 years has more wild flowers, over130 different species, than anywhere in Wales

    7. Mixed grazing with Cattle Sheep and Ponies produces more grazing, insects and wildlife.

    8. Partial Blocking tributaries from uplands will reduce flow to rivers liable to flood better than digging into 8000yr old blanket bogs that drain naturally.

    9. North Wyke, Okehampton( Rothamsted) and IBERS Aberytwyth have bred festuca X lolium deep rooted Fescue X Rygrass that will absorb more rain than trees.

    10. The bovine’s most striking attribute is that it can live on a simple diet of grass, which it forages for itself. And for protecting land, water, soil and climate, there is nothing better than dense grass. As we consider the long-term prospects for feeding the human race, cattle will rightly remain an essential element.

    —Ms. Hahn Niman is the author of “Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production” (Chelsea Green), from which this is adapted.

    11. Pasture Farmers

    A growing group of British farmers producing 100% #grassfed beef and lamb sold under the ‘Pasture for Life’ certification mark to guarantee its provenance

    Tweets by ‎@PastureForLife

    Pasture Farmers Retweeted

    DUMP ‎@Team_DUMP
    Mob grazing for biodiversity. Excellent video on UTube.

    Winter grazing vital for winter species of dung beetles supporting entire ecosystems & improving pasture quality… https://

    05 March 2016

    • Thank you for your comments – I am away tomorrow but will reply later – maybe this side of Easter. Sorry to ask but I don’t know your name – your comments are unsigned, best wishes

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