Beating the bounds, or beating the parish boundary, dates back to Anglo Saxon times, right back to Alfred the Great (848 to 899), and the tradition happens every 7 years. This year, 2022, is the 160th Beating the Dartmoor Boundary for the parish of South Tawton and South Zeal (served by South Tawton Parish Council). The idea of parish boundaries being “checked out” was to confirm the boundary markers had not been moved or disturbed by neighbours, and also to enable the young members of the parish to learn from their elders where the boundary lies.
The parish route for Beating the Bounds started at South Zeal Victory Hall, to Mill Farm below East Week, Paynes Bridge and then up onto the open moor following Blackaton Brook, past Shilley Pool and out to Raybarrow Pool and Little Hound Tor before dropping down to Taw Marsh, back to Belstone and Sticklepath before returning to South Zeal. It is approximately 12 miles in total, a good day’s walking!
Walkers were encouraged to provide their own drinks and snacks during the walk, with South Tawton Parish Council supplying pasties and water refills at Taw Marsh. Everyone then headed back to the village of South Zeal for a hog roast and refreshments provided by the council.
2022 saw a tremendous turnout of approximately 200 walkers, with the event supported by Dartmoor Rescue to whom the council owes a debt of thanks; they will be making a contribution to the charity. Donations were collected throughout the event for South Zeal Recreation Ground Charity and £567.10 was raised. The council would like to thank Dartmoor Commoners who donated a barrel of beer for the thirsty walkers on their return to South Zeal.
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