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Stop 1 The Griffin Inn (0 m) – SM 811 056
The Griffin (www.griffininndale.co.uk) was originally called the Three Horseshoes, becoming the Griffin in 1824.
Just along from the pub you will see a sign for the Field Studies Centre. This is the beginning of the access road to the fort, the start of your circular walk.
On your left past the yacht club are four houses, alongside what was once Dale Quay. These buildings date from the 18th and 19th centuries. They are all now private residences, but their original uses were very different. Look out for the names on some of the houses, which will tell you something of their history.
The first house was once a general store called Polly Morgan’s. The Morgans were a sister and brother, who kept the shop up until their deaths in 1938 and 1941. Their store sold all manner of stock, amassed over the years. After their deaths it became a ruin, infested by rats, until it was rebuilt and converted into a house.
The second house on Dale Quay was once the Tabernacle Congregational Chapel, built in 1838 and converted into a house in 1976.
The third house was Artie’s Cottage, once occupied by Artie Reynolds, a local character. The last house along the quay was once an inn called the Brig. This building dates from 1750. The inn changed names several times. Originally it was called the Ship, and subsequently the Royal William, becoming the Brig in 1893.
Continue up the road towards Dale Fort. The next stop follows a walk of about 1000 metres, when you reach the top of the hill and emerge from the trees.
As you make your way up the hill there are some things to look out for.
The wood to your right borders the southern edge of the village. It is called Blue Anchor Wood, named after another long-gone pub. The wood continues to the left of the road as Point Wood, which runs along the north-east coast of the Dale peninsula.
A satellite view shows that woods of Dale are all located on the north and east sides of the peninsula. Few trees grow to the south or west, except in sheltered valleys. This is due to the prevailing winds, which are from the south-west. With its exposed position on the coast, Dale can be a very windy place. These winds, along with salt spray, stunt the growth of trees. Later on along the walk look out for trees that have a peculiar shape, appearing to bend away from the wind. This is caused by a phenomenon called ‘wind pruning’. Wind prevents the buds from growing on the windward side, causing more growth to take place on the sheltered (leeward) side, so the trees lean away from the wind.
On the right-hand side of the road across from the houses are the ruins of some cottages. These were still inhabited up until the 1950s.
The military road to the fort was constructed in 1853. Either side of the road near the top of the hill, look out for the old galvanised iron fence posts with their decorative caps, in amongst the modern barbed wire. They are over 150 years old.