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The Haytor Granite Tramway. The remains of this extraordinary tramway, which operated between 1820 and 1858, can be traced from granite quarries at Haytor on Dartmoor down to Ventiford, south east of Heathfield, a distance of 10 miles. The tramway was the brainchild of the Templer family of Teigngrace, who built it to carry the granite to wharves at Ventiford on the Stover Canal, where it was transshipped into barges and carried onwards by water transport. More of a 'flangeway' than a railway, the tracks were constructed from granite to a gauge of 4ft. 3in. and had an 'L' shaped profile, facing outwards. Thanks to TV coverage, especially in an episode of the 'Abandoned Engineering' series, the Haytor Granite Tramway is probably better known now than it has ever been, but the upper reaches of the network on the open moor still receive the most attention. However, if one sets off downhill from above the village of Haytor Vale, the tramway remains are just as many, and just as interesting.

Left: The start of the long downhill run on the Haytor Granite Tramway at grid reference SX 769775 above the village of Haytor Vale, looking east. Note the junction in the distance. It is thought that short lengths of pivoted wooden rail were used to guide the wagons across points, and a round socket to accommodate this will be found drilled into the granite at each such location. 9th February 2019. (Jeff Vinter)

 
Above: As the tramway begins to lose height, it runs for about a mile just north of the B3387, which links Widecombe-in-the-Moor with Bovey Tracey. The curves can be tight (though tighter ones than this follow), and, in places, the granite rails are being covered slowly by the moorland grass. 9th February 2019. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: The ultimate vandal-proof seat: a re-located granite sleeper serving as a 'bench with a view' as the tramway enters Yarner Wood. The rocks and quarries at Haytor are protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, which prohibits development or any type of disturbance, while the tramway is a Scheduled Monument. 9th February 2019. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: A typical view of the tramway in Yarner Wood. The tramway's course here is not a public right of way but a permissive route, by courtesy of the local landowners. Occasionally, sections may be closed when farming needs require, but diversions are signed. 9th February 2019. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: Anticipating later railway practice, and no doubt influenced by the practice on canals (where mileposts were a legal requirement), the Haytor Granite Tramway featured mileposts which measured the distance from the quarries. This one, perched on a cutting face above the running line, marks the half-way point in Yarner Wood. 9th February 2019. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: Shortly after the tramway leaves Yarner Wood, it offers a fine view to the east over the Wray Valley, where the GWR branch line to Moretonhampstead used to run. Following years of patient negotiation with landowners, Devon County Council hopes to open that line between Bovey Tracey and Moretonhampstead as the Wray Valley Trail before the end of summer 2019. 9th February 2019. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: This photograph may look like the result of an accidental release of the camera's shutter, but it depicts the only surviving bridge on the Haytor Granite Tramway, which carried the line over the Bovey Pottery Leat at grid reference SX 803776, about 250 yards south east of Chapple Farm on Chapple Road. The cold weather at the time was not conducive to taking one's boots and socks off and actually standing in the leat to get a better view! 9th February 2019. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: Between Chapple Road and Brimley Road to the west of Bovey Tracey, the tramway offers extensive views to the north, which in this photograph is to the right. This view was taken from approximately grid reference SX 806774. Once again, granite sleepers are much in evidence. 9th February 2019. (Jeff Vinter)
 

Left: Our final view of the Haytor Granite Tramway is milepost 8, which makes for a surprising discovery along what amounts to an alleyway between Brimley Road and Ashburton Road on the south west side of Bovey Tracey; only those tracing the old tramway will realise what this signifies. The tramway skirted Bovey and continued on through Heathfield to reach Ventiford, where more granite sleepers will be found around the canal wharf. However, between Bovey and Ventiford, virtually no granite sleepers remain … although they can be found in the masonry of nearby railway bridges on the branch line up from Newton Abbot. Clearly, the railway builders knew good quality stone when they saw it. 9th February 2019. (Jeff Vinter)