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View from King's Tor towards Merrivale
Princetown to King's Tor
An easy-to-follow five mile walk across Dartmoor along the track of an old railway. It takes you from Princetown to the disused quarries at Foggintor and Swelltor with some fantastic views along the way.
If you are new to walking on Dartmoor and don't want to stray off the beaten track or if you prefer a fairly gentle stroll, a walk along the old railway line from Princetown is an ideal route.
The path follows the track of the disused Princetown to Yelverton railway as it snakes westwards to King's Tor, Swelltor and Foggintor. Along the way you'll get to see some fascinating remnants of Dartmoor's industrial archaeology.
The Plymouth and Dartmoor Railway was opened in 1823 and was principally built to serve the nearby granite quarries.
The stretch between Princetown and Yelverton later became a branch line of the Great Western Railway. It closed in 1956 but has since become a popular walking route.
A derelict building at Swelltor Quarry
It's an easy five mile walk with a firm path underfoot and only gentle gradients - you can turn back anywhere along the way, but the entire walk should take you around two hours.
The walk starts at the car park in the centre of Princetown. Standing with the car park behind you, turn left at the entrance and walk along the road towards a row of cottages.
You'll see a path on the left just after you pass the fire station which takes you onto the old railway. From here the track is easy to follow as it heads out onto the moor.
As you leave Princetown behind, superb moorland views open up on all sides. To your left you can look across Walkhampton Common towards Sharpitor and to your right you can see the TV transmitter at North Hessary Tor, which stands 198m above the granite outcrop.
As the track passes through a small cutting, look out for two bound stones engraved with the initials 'PCWW 1917'. These stones, erected by the Plymouth Corporation Waterworks, mark the catchment area for Burrator Reservoir.
After about a mile you'll reach a turning on your right which leads to Foggintor Quarry - once one of the largest granite quarries on Dartmoor.
Quarrying here stopped in 1938, but there is still plenty of evidence that this was once a thriving mining community. If you have the time to explore, a visit to the old quarry is well worth the detour. But take care as the quarry faces are steep and rough.
The main walk continues along the old railway track to King's Tor. From here you can look across to Vixen Tor and the working quarry at Merrivale.
A disused quarry face
The track skirts around the back of King's Tor and emerges close to the disused Swelltor Quarry. Here the track divides - you need to follow the left fork as it heads up the old quarry siding.
There's much evidence here of an industry that once employed thousands of local people. Keep a look out for a row of granite beams on your left - originally cut for the widening of London Bridge in 1902.
Walk past the quarry entrance and continue on the path as it winds its way around the old workings. For a short distance the path here is slightly less easy to follow and the terrain a little uneven underfoot.
After a while the path rejoins the old railway line close to Foggintor Quarry. From here you turn right and retrace your steps back to Princetown.
The village itself stands 1,400 feet above sea level and is one of the wettest places in England. It's biggest claim to fame is probably the infamous Dartmoor Prison - built to house prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars and still in use today.
To learn more about the history of Dartmoor, take some time to visit the Higher Moorland Visitor Centre in the centre of the village adjacent to the car park.
The centre is open all year round except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day and one week in March.
last updated: 13/02/2008 at 11:51