By: Blonde Two
Foggintor Quarry on Dartmoor is one of those locations that can send shivers down your spine on even the loveliest of days. It is not so much the dark and steep-sided quarry itself but more the towering aspect of the accompanying ruins that gape, through blank windows over vistas once hectic but now silent. You get the feeling somehow that that distant workforce is still there, waiting for instructions in the shadows. When you are heading out for a wild camp on Dartmoor, this is a feeling that is best avoided.
All of that said, Foggintor is also a beautiful and peaceful place (although popular due to its proximity to the old railway track that snakes from Princetown out around King’s Tor). I have picnicked and photographed there many times but my favourite was last Sunday when, on our way to a wild camping spot, Blonde One and I passed through Foggintor on an evening that couldn’t have been more atmospheric.
The day had been one of those sunny, windy ones that Dartmoor does very well when she eventually decides such things are appropriate. The evening, however, was completely different, we set off from Princetown at around eight o’clock but it could have been midnight for all we could see. The Dartmoor mist had set in once more and navigation skills were required even to locate ourselves along the railway track.
We cut away from the railway track on a bearing rather than a path and headed, through soaking wet flower heads of grass, towards the quarry. Even if you are confident in your navigation skills, walking purposefully towards the top of a 100ft cliff that won’t be visible until you are almost on it can be a bit disconcerting. Once we had skirted the quarry, we didn’t enter it at that time, we were both keen to take some photos of the buildings before we lost the last remnants of light (the mist was absorbing most of it).
The atmosphere was not lacking… but for once the ruins didn’t feel spooky. We had a great time exploring before we eventually settled on a camp spot. It is worth noting here that the Dartmoor wild camping map does not allow for wild camping within the bounds of the quarry ruins. This isn’t really a problem as searches around can find you a spot that isn’t too near to the railway track and is not visible from Yellowmead Farm (for our search we were barely visible to each other!)
There is a story, of course, on Dartmoor there always is. This time it is of a drummer boy left with a group of prisoners on their way to prison, in horrendous winter conditions. He didn’t survive and his drumming is said to fill the quarry to this day. We didn’t hear him but there was distant drumming of a far more modern kind in the morning!