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Extract from a web page by Chris Popham who retains the copyright.

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Hexworthy, Devon. The mines at Ringleshuttes and Hooten Wheals.
OS Grid Ref: SX670718

The head of the Skir Gut is streaming works is marked by a flooded pit and banked mounds of spoil that was once the collar of Skir Shaft. This has been flooded by the immediately adjacent spring, which spills out of the pond as a stream and which rapidly builds in volume and heads about due north. Just south of the shaft the open work is crossed at almost 90 degrees by another cutting, the line of which points, possibly coincidentally, to the works at Hooten Wheals a kilometer away northeast. Skir works is initially spread quite widely over the moor but soon narrows to a thin cutting about 15m across and 5m deep and then ends abruptly at a number of rock dumps where the ground levels out slightly.

At the lower end of the openworks the O Brook begins to turn slightly east. It runs on for about ½ a kilometer with sporadic streaming before before looping round southward at Skir Ford. From here along its course down to the Henroost it has been increasingly streamed so that at the Henroost the channel is about 50m wide, scattered with mounds and dry channels flanked by a high bank to the south and the gentle slope of the hillside on the north.

Approached from the open moor the Henroost (SX650710).appears initially only as a number of mounds and shallow trenches. Head downhill, keeping to the right (east) and the works quickly deepen making a trench up to 10m wide and 10m deep and maybe 100m in length with in places solid, vertical rock walls. Where it shallows out is the collar of Air Shaft. The collar of Taylor’s Shaft is about 50m further down the cutting and is fenced off with a large tree growing from it. For a time ore for processing was brought to the Henroost from Hooten Wheals and the bed of the tramway ends right by Air Shaft though there seems to be no remaining evidence of a processing plant.

Below Taylor’s Shaft the Henroost widens out into a series of rock mounds and channels typical of streaming before fanning out into the O Brook. From this point on down to Hooten Wheals the O Brook has been extensively streamed. There is however little to see so it is more interesting to follow the bed of the tramway, as it strikes due east from Air Shaft and steeply down towards Hooten Wheals.

The tramway is initially dry, about 2m wide and set between banks about 1m high. It then crossed a small stream running in a culvert formed from 5 or 6 large granite blocks, however this culvert is now blocked and the stream runs down the tramway to a second larger granite block bridge. From here a leat about 1m wide and 1.5m deep cuts off to the right (southeast) of the tramway following the contour of the hill all the way to Hooten Wheals. It ends on the edge of one of the open works where the open works meets the tram track. It is probable that from this point the leat was carried by a launder across the tram track to the water wheel that once stood beside the track on the downslope side. The wheelpit is fenced off and overgrown but the point at which the tailrace exited can still be seen.

Meanwhile, from the beginning of the leat the tramway levels off somewhat and follows the south side of the valley below the leat. There is a fork to the north, which crosses the brook on a clapper bridge, and leads to the lower works of which more later.

At the point where the leat took to the afore mentioned launder the tramway crosses the outflow from a drainage adit which is blocked by a large slab of granite, and leads directly on to the lowest level of the Hooten Wheals processing plant (SX657706) just beyond another dry culvert. The processing plant is on 3 levels, each level being about 1.5m above the previous. The lowest level was partly in and part out of a large shed, now gone, of which, there is a line drawing in Richardson’s book. Within the shed area are 2 circular buddles with concrete pans probably dating only to the period when there was an attempt to restart the works prior to the First World War. The buddles still contain a layer of light grey stamps sand, which yields small quantities of fine orange-gold cassiterite when panned, though this is made difficult by the abundant flakes of shrapnel from the time when the works was demolished by gunnery practice in advance of the D-Day landings in 1944. Outside, the level runs out from the shed area in a stepped, grassed over dump.

The middle level is an open flat concrete space between walls. The floor is set with a number of ½ inch thick bolts which once anchored jigging tables. The upper level is similarly set but with 1 inch thick bolts to anchor heads of stamps. Only ½ this level ever housed stamps the remainder was provided as space for additional heads should they be required but is now heavily overgrown with reeds.

Above the processing plant are 3 finger dumps. Between the eastern 2 dumps is a wider space, through which flat rods once ran, enclosing a shallow rock dump leading back to Low’s shaft. Besides Low’s shaft collar is a bob pit and behind it the ruined engine house and offices. From Low’s shaft running outside the westernmost dump back to the tramway and drainage adit is an open gunnis. In the other direction from Low’s shaft this gunnis continues for about 400m up the hillside with at about 50m another shaft and at about 100m it is cut at 90 degrees by another short gunnis.

Cassiterite can occasionally be found in the dumps as black crystals disseminated in the grey peach rock matrix.

To complete the walk, retrace the tramway to the bridge across the O Brook and follow the track. This passes a demolished office building behind which, at a distance, was the powder house. Take the track that forks downhill to the right. This crosses a leat, which opens out on the left of the track into a reservoir. From this reservoir a launder ran along the high bank ahead, onto a raised launder and on to the waterwheel off to the right. Richardson mentions the existence of ring bolts set into granite blocks to hold guy ropes for the launder but these have now disappeared under the grass. Similarly the wheelpit is now overgrown with trees (though a rotting wooden notice says that it was restored in 1989). A second launder bank and wheelpit to the right are also heavily overgrown.

Beside the main wheelpit is a level area surrounded in part by a ruined wall, which once enclosed buddles and a dressing floor. Between this and the brook a pine tree marks a large dump and on the far side of the brook streaming works run high up onto the ridge.

Cross over to the right-hand bank of the brook and follow it downstream avoiding the much wetter ground on the other bank. After a short distance the Wheal Emma leat discharges from the brook and from here it is a pleasant, flat and slightly downhill walk back to the road. Turn up the hill and within a few 100m is Combestone Tor.

Refs:
1. Dines, H.G., 1956, The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England, 1994 reprint.
2. Richardson, P.H.G., 1992, Mines of Dartmoor and the Tamar Valley after 1913, British Mining vol 44.

© Chris Popham, Aug, 2007.