*August 19 National Ramble – Rattlebrook Tramway


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Rattlebrook Tramway

This is a disused railway, built in 1879, to extract naptha oil from the peat that blanketed the moors, this could be converted into candles and mothballs as well as other uses, such as flares for lighting the evening markets of the country towns nearby.  On the outward journey it is a sustained climb of 1:10 for about three miles on very bumpy and rocky loose surfaces. We started off from the Fox & Hounds Hotel nr Okehampton and travelled up the stony track from the car park, suddenly, coming towards us was a farmer on his quadbike followed by a large herd of cows, calves and one huge bull.  We all pulled in as close as we could to the left while they stampeded past, they looked terrified – but not as terrified as we were I bet! It was an interesting experience to say the least, but a little worrying especially when the bull went past, massive and powerful as he was. All was well however, and we carried on our way. This is a really beautiful, scenic route going high up on the western flank of Dartmoor giving amazing views over the surrounding countryside for miles.  Added to this was the flowers of the heather and gorse, which intermingled and gave an amazing display. As you can see from the photos, we were going between banks of these colourful flowers and it was really lovely. We had an interesting combination of scooters today: a terrain hopper, a Mayan, 2 Kymcos, a Boma 7, TGA Supersport, TWS’s, Trampers. We often hear that DR is a “Tramper” group but there were many other makes here today, and on Fernworthy the day before we also had a Mybility 4X powerchair.  All managed very well too. We had lunch with terrific views to enjoy as well as our sandwiches, and then progressed onto the upper part of the track which led to the top of the hill. This was an extremely bumpy track, although beautiful, and this last part defeated two of us – not because of the steepness, it was the constant bumping on our spines – and we had to admit we would have to stop and wait for the others. This was no bad thing though, because we were able to sit and have a good look round and enjoy the scenery and let our poor vertebrae’s recover in time for the downward trip!  There were lots of little ponies and cattle to watch and in the distance was the old viaduct that was used to connect all the villages in the valley by train, this is now a cycle track and is once again useful for cyclists and walkers alike. This was a truly awesome route from the scenic point of view and we all enjoyed it very much. Again, thanks Moorland Guides and WAGS for the work you put in, and for sharing this route with DR. Val

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