Teignhead Farm, SX635844

The isolation of Teignhead Farm gives it a rather special and strange appeal. It is not the oldest farm on the moor, far from it, and certainly not the best preserved.

There is little left of the buildings that make up the farmstead, nevertheless there are enough of the remains to stir the imagination.

The first lease on the farm is recorded in November 1808, although it’s possible the farm was in use earlier. E. Hemery in his book ‘High Dartmoor’ suggests that the presence of a pair of slotted gate posts endorses the view that the origin of the farm was the 18th Century.

The farm was occupied until it was requisitioned by the War Office in 1942; it has not been in use since then. The conditions in 1942 would not, I guess, have been very different to those a century and a half earlier.

To visit the closest settlement by horse or by horse and cart must have taken the best part of a day and so the journey would not have been made often. The family who occupied the farm would have worked long hours to produce enough for simple survival. The necessity to be as self-sufficient as possible must have involved cutting peat, growing potatoes, and keeping a variety of animals, perhaps a horse, a couple of pigs, chickens and a few cows. Sheep kept within the Newtake walls would have been the major source of income.

A hundred metres to the East of the farm is the remains of a blowing mill that pre-dates the farm. It is possible that the farm gained extra income by providing accommodation for the mine workers. The course of the leat supplying the mill is clearly visible and it’s possible to find industrial remains close to the mill and river. A double tin mould is fairly obvious and there are other moulds close by.

A little further downstream of the mill is a well preserved clapper bridge. The original was demolished by a flood in 1826; the present structure has remained pretty much intact for nearly two hundred years. It must have been an important structure to allow the passage of carts to Postbridge or Chagford. The original bridge may have been constructed by the miners before the farm was established. Whoever made the second bridge must have used a horse, ropes, timbers and block and tackle to lift the nine huge slabs in place at the top of the bridge.

On crossing the bridge going west, the track to the left goes to Teignhead farm. By turning right and contouring for 200 metres, you pass between two narrowing stone walls and arrive at Manga farmstead, which is thought to date from the same period as Teignhead farm. Manga farmstead was abandoned well before Teignhead yet the buildings and walls are perhaps better preserved. If anything, Manga feels even more remote and austere than Teignhead.

One way of getting to Teignhead is to park at the small car park (free) at the end of the road that goes around Fernworthy Reservoir. A track then leads up through the forestry, past a stone circle and row to the gate which opens to moorland. The Grey Wethers and Sittaford stone circles are close by.

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