Tours can now be booked for this summer at the newest visitor attraction on Dartmoor – Higher Uppaton, a restored “longhouse” with a 700-year history.

The old farmhouse started out, in the 14th century, as a plain rectangle, made of gathered stones, oak timbers and straw thatch, for humans and beasts to share while scratching a living on the edge of the moor between Poundsgate and Ashburton. Grazing rights were often given only from dawn to dusk, so a family’s small herd of cattle might have to be taken in at night, as well as during hard weather and at calving time. The cattle would probably have resembled the Devon Ruby, only much smaller.

Over the years, some comforts were added – an upper storey, a chimney to take out smoke from the peat fire, an outside lean-to with a slate roof, some glass instead of wooden shutters, and so on.

But it retained its original central shape and the original cobble-floored “shippon”, with a drainage channel, at the livestock end – pictured below – up until it was bought for the nation in the 1970s.

In recent years, under the management of the Dartmoor National Park Authority, it has been stripped back and reconstructed with old materials, like lime plaster, to become one of the best examples of its kind.

A guided visit programme was launched last year and is back on this year, after some more work. First tour of this summer (£6 a head for adults) starts 10.30 am on Saturday April 13. Other times and dates HERE

Group bookings can be organised. Call the Princetown visitor centre on 01822 890414 or email visit@dartmoor.gov.uk


Tonight (Friday March 29) the Leaping Salmon has jazz from the Ronnie Jones Trio – occasional touring version of the The Ronnie Jones Quartet, Exeter-based and nationally respected.

Sample them HERE

And find event poster HERE


Spare some sympathy for Horrabridge Parish Council, who have volunteered for a hiding to nothing by trying to start a debate on how dogs and footballers can best share Fillace Park. It is unlikely the council will actually ban dogs but they had to say they would consider it to see if a threat would help. Here in The Shed, we prefer to leave them to handle the argument but we do agree it has to happen – and it might as well start around here, where it is probably more common to have three dogs than to have none.

There is an understandable view that doggy love is a nice thing in a bad world and more of it has got to be better than less of it. And it takes a hard heart to argue – not to mention a bit of nerve. However, the result is more and more mess on less and less grass.

Dogshit policy has developed in a fairly haphazard way over the 40-odd years since a brave Lancashire council recognised that one was needed. There are probably better ways of dealing with the stuff than carrying it around in plastic bags and then either throwing them over a hedge or giving them to your council to drive to the other end of the county for incineration. And it is surely time for a full review of the options.

Surveillance technology might finally get a warm welcome if it could come up with a system which would give persistent polluters pause for thought. Has anyone asked what a spy in the sky could do?

Science might also come up with a modern doggy diet which would help a bit? After all, people and dairy cows are under pressure to change – and as a tv time-traveller once observed, a lot of dog-do used to resemble chalk, when pets were fed on bones.

Meanwhile, maybe a fence around the football pitches would make more sense than the artificial turf which is sometimes proposed. And what about a grant for a budgerigar club?


* Tomorrow (Saturday March 30):

Public Q & A in Tavistock with rowing hero Lee Spencer: Bedford Square, from 9 am.

Quiz night in support of Horrabridge Twinning: school hall, 7.30 pm.

Drawn To The Valley – annual Tamar Valley art show opens at AONB Centre, Drakewalls, near Gunnislake.

* Sunday (March 31):

Magic Of Motown: Exeter Northcott.

* Monday (April 1):

“Psychic Sally” at The Wharf: tickets £25.

* Tuesday (April 2):

Glenn Tilbrook, one of the founders of Squeeze, at Tavistock Wharf, 7.30 pm.

* Thursday (April 4):

New running group meets Walkhampton Cross, 6.30 pm, to cover three miles slowly, return to pub and meet weekly from then on. See Walkhampton Village Hub on Facebook for more info.

A Star Is Born (remake with Lady Gaga) at Calstock Arts.

* Friday (April 5):

New Dumbo film opens at The Wharf.

* Next Saturday (April 6):

Village party for Lee Spencer, London Inn. See poster HERE

* Next Sunday (April 7):

Spooners Hunt point-to-point racing day at Cherrybrook Tavistock, PL19 0LA. First race, 1.30 pm.


Here in The Shed, where the Horrabridge Times is put together, we have a file waiting to be read on the plan for this end of Devon which is currently being signed off by Plymouth Council, West Devon Council and other authorities who feel obliged to have a plan – including, of course, a commitment to build thousands more houses.

But we also have a report from the CPRE (Campaign To Protect Rural England) which seems to say, at first glance, that most of those already built, in recent years, have gone to people who sold up elsewhere so they could retire to Devon – which is all very well but not exactly essential economic development.

So what about this for a proposal which might do us all more good than a Premier Inn in Tavistock or a Costa Coffee in Okehampton …

If retirement homes are our premium product, why not tax them, for the benefit of the local economy, by insisting that, say, half of them are built with local materials?

The cement industry is finally being recognised as one of the biggest destroyers of environment and atmosphere in the world. But the West Country is full of ready-made stone and slate, with roads and tracks leading to it. A revival of low-carbon extraction, using horses and water and manpower as much as possible, would be good for tourism, good for the appearance and value of our housing stock and good for emissions targets.
The Dartmoor National Park Authority might pave the way by allowing some new housing in the park if it was both locally sourced and self-sustaining – producing its own energy, disposing of its own waste and requiring no new tarmac. Off-grid living would be a good direction to lead the way in. And if we can make one more controversial suggestion, the ideal experimental site is waiting – HM Prison, Princetown.


In case you missed it, the final word in a Daily Telegraph discussion on the perfect way to mix a gin was supplied by Wendy Tanqueray – widow of the great-grandson of the famous distiller. She and her husband spent 50 years experimenting with tonic waters and so on and eventually settled for gin, ice, plain soda water and wedge of lemon or lime – “sheer perfection”, according to her letter.


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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.