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Garth the Tinner

Garth the Tinner

High up the reaches of the Red Brook stands the ruin of a tinners hut known as Garth’s House. This small granite shelter was once his abode. One spring day he set of to his tin sett, on reaching the works he noticed what he initially thought to be a small animal tucked beside a huge rock. Slowly he ambled across and discovered to his amazement it was in fact a small girl. She was huddled up on a tatty cloak but even more alarming was that there was a bloody print of a mans hand on the cape and slashes of blood all around her little bed. Apart from that there was no explanation as who she was or what she was doing high on the moor alone. After careful thought as what to do he decided to take her back to his small hut beside the Red Brook.

Sadly his wife had died a few years ago and left Garth to raise their son Hael and it was in this rude hut they had lived. The two children seemed to take to each other immediately and so Garth decided to look after the girl until someone came to claim her. Many years passed by and the children grew older and spent all their time together walking the moors. The girl Garth had named Melys. At the passing of every year their love for each other deepened and they finally decided to be married but had decided to keep this a secret for a while.

But one summers day that fateful year two strangers rode into Garth’s tinners workings they were obviously noblemen by the look of their fine cloths and grand horses. Garth rested his pick and went over to see what such regal people we doing so far out into the moor. It transpired that the older one had travel past the workings fourteen years ago on his way to Dartmouth where he was to set sail for Spain. With him was his baby daughter and four soldiers. As is typical for the high moors a thick mist came down and the party got separated. He and his daughter wandered aimlessly in the dense shroud of fog until they stumbled into the tin workings where the horse lost its footing and fell amongst the rubble. The nobleman was thrown off and smashed his head on a rock. When he come to he managed to find his daughter and wrap her in his bloody cape in the shelter of a huge boulder. Then he lapsed back into oblivion. Luckily his travelling companions found the workings and also the nobleman. When once again he came around he saw to his anguish the empty cloak. Search as they might they never found the little girl until finally they gave up and feared she had drowned in the nearby brook. So they continued on to Dartmouth and then on to Spain. As if the poor soul had not had enough bad luck it then transpired that the ship had been captured by some Moorish pirates who had held the nobleman captive for the past fourteen years. He had been released a couple of months earlier and now had come back to the moor to resume the search for his missing daughter.

So naturally Garth related the story of how he found the little girl and took the noble riders back down to his humble dwelling. Hael was at the house so Garth told him to go and fetch Melys because her real father had come to take her home. Hael was distraught and confided in his father about how he and Melys had fallen in love and were to be married. But Garth’s conscience got the better of him and despite his sons heartfelt pleas he handed Melys over to her real father. After a tearful reunion the noblemen took Melys home to their grand house. That night it snowed heavily and poor Hael was inconsolable as the two men sat in silence huddle around the fire for warmth. Garth finally retired to bed leaving Hael crying into the burning embers of the fire. The next morning Garth awoke to thick blanket of snow and a very deserted house for Heal was nowhere to be seen. Donning his thick cloak Garth set of in search of Hael. He went to all the known places where Hael would go and eventually high up near the headwaters of the Red Brook he found the frozen body of his son.. Grief laden he carried his son back to the small house and buried him in the heather nearby. A few days later Melys returned to pay a visit and soon heard the terrible news. She vowed never to leave the moor again and despite her new found family and wealth she spent the rest of the days beside the Red Brook and the grave of Hael.


About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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