Continuing our exploration of Buckland Woods; a collection of numerous private woodlands, all managed by Fountain Forestry, and to enter them a permit can be obtained. The sections within part two are Pudsham Wood, Lizwell Wood and Town Wood.
Approaching from the south at Lizwell Meet, you enter Pudsham Wood, where, to the right, hidden in the depth of dense foliage, lies a substantial outcrop, at SX 7135 7377, we named Pudsham Wood Tor, but have since found out is originally called Avechurch Rocks.
It is an extremely frustrating tor to reach, one that Tim and I failed to do. Like Raven Rock, in Ausewell Woods, it is also a difficult one to photograph. what we have is a large wall of granite, protected by tangled garden terraces that hide uneven ground and ankle traps.
The picture below shows the extent of the problem to reach this outcrop, even with substantial clearance having taken place to the north!
Hunt reports in local newspapers dating back to the late 19th and early 20th century tell us that this rock field was once known as ‘Avechurch (or Aviechurch) Rocks’. Multiple accounts mention it in their route descriptions, leading us to pinpoint the location with a high degree of certainty. Although the source of the name has not been found, perhaps it originated from its position below the higher driveway or ‘avenue’ that runs to the church at Buckland in the Moor.
One particular article details the death of James Collings, Chief Huntsman of the South Devon Hounds, at this spot, in 1898; “On Tuesday the hounds met at Welstor Cross, and, after a run of about an hour and a half, drove a fox to ground among rocks at Avechurch, in Buckland Woods. At this spot there is a very steep slope formed of granite boulders.” The account goes on to explain, in gruesome detail, how he was crushed beneath a three ton boulder whilst trying to dig the fox out and lists the nature of his wounds; “His neck was badly broken, his head was jammed in so that two or three fingers could be put in it, and a portion of the brain was protruding from the right ear, and, in addition, his chest bone was broken to pieces; his lungs and heart were completely crushed, and his left arm was dislocated. The boulder went over him and crushed him like a fly. His silver horn was smashed flat, and the whole of his body above and including his chest was absolutely crushed. ”
The report concludes; “There are lots of rocks similar to that which was the cause of the accident around Buckland, and it is said to be a very dangerous country.“
We even tried to access it from the track above, but the terrain is steep and the trees cannot be trusted as hand holds to steady oneself. We did manage to photograph some exposed granite from the top, but the sheer scale of Avechurch Rocks is elusive and can only be imagined.
To the north, still within Pudsham Wood, and east of the East Webburn, there is an interesting collection of granite we have called Pudsham Wood Rocks. Climbing east, on a forest track, you first come across the lower pile, at SX 7150 7477; modest boulders incorporated into the boundary wall of the fields of the farm called Lower Pudsham.
Climb further up the track and to your right, the boulders are more substantial and scattered. Time to leave the track and stroll among the multitude of strange shapes and pleasing outcrops that stretch up to a little used track to the farm. Grid reference for the top is SX 7160 7478.
There are views north, across Cockingford, but this isn’t good enough to distract you from the wealth of granite here. It is a pleasant surprise and a joy to be able to reach after the frustrations of the tor further south.
Situated on the west bank of the East Webburn, this area stretches from Lizwell Meet to Cockingford. To enter, you should cross the charming Lizwell Bridge.
Historic England has some details on this charming bridge; “..multi span bridge known as Lizwell Bridge which crosses the East Webburn River and is situated in a steep wooded valley. The bridge survives as two low rounded arches which each measure 2.5m long, these meet on an islet in the river and are joined by a causeway. The arches are constructed of dressed granite, the rest is composed of slate rubble. The bridge is up to 3.2m wide, the parapets are extremely low and on the northern side of the bridge at the centre a granite pillar with fixings suggest the bridge was once gated.”
To the north-west of the bridge, at SX 7116 7413, lies a small outcrop that we named after it; Lizwell Bridge Rock.
At first, it seems insignificant, but when you move along the track to directly beneath, it looks far better. To reach it, there are some brambles and other tripping hazards to negotiate, but it is best seen for close up.
At Lizwell Meet, there sits a small, scruffy mound, where a granite outcrop is visible, albeit inundated by vegetation, like most of the tors in Buckland Woods. We have given it the rather uninspiring label of “Lizwell Meet Tor” and its grid reference is SX 7132 7373.
To the west of Lizwell Meet, there is a fine tor deep within the trees above the track that runs beside the Webburns, from Cockingford to Ponsworthy.
Typical of all the woodlands that are collectively known as Buckland Woods, Lizwell Wood is terrible to traverse off track. Thankfully, this one is not the worst and the visitor will see an excellent granite pile that spans the spur of the hill near the boundary with Town Wood.
High up on the slopes of Lizwell Wood, there is an exposed wall of granite, of a similar style to Lizwell Rock but much smaller in stature. Lizwell North Rock can be found at SX 7132 7475.
Its top is an untidy vegetation-covered ledge, the ground around littered with decaying branches and like most of these woodlands, care must be taken on approach. Its size is better appreciated when viewed directly beneath, a height of about ten feet, with a bracken fringe drooping from its top like a bad toupe.
To the west of Lizwell Wood, spans the woodland north of the West Webburn, opposite Blackadon Down. Given the scale of outcrops on the slopes of the other bank, high hopes were had for this area but in reality we only found one significant set of rocks we called Town Wood Tor.
Right on the boundary of Town Wood & Cleave Wood, there are three small emergent outcrops on a gentle slope above the once-popular track beside the West Webburn, which was once a popular thoroughfare from Ponsworthy to Lizwell Meet. The lower is the first encountered, a fine bulk of a rectangular granite boulder, its position suggesting it had slid from its situ above, encouraging the tor bagger to explore higher.
The middle and upper sections are quickly reached, hard against the woodlands boundary wall. These are modest outcrops, both with good horizontal jointing, only a few metres apart but quite separate with no clitter between, although that may have been cleared to build the dry stone wall. A quick glance over the said wall you’ll see there is scant evidence of exposed rock and these three outcrops are all that remains.
In part 3, the tors and rocks of Hardridge Wood, Coombe Wood and Greypark Wood.