Autumnal 'work walking' in Mid Devon and on Dartmoor
As many of you will know, as well as being editor of Dartmoor Magazine I’m also the author of a number of walking and guidebooks. I’ve recently been commissioned to update my last book – The Two Moors Way – Devon’s Coast to Coast walk for the publishers Cicerone Press. It won’t be out until late next year, but it’s an opportunity to walk the whole 117 miles across Devon (with a section in Somerset too) again, in both directions! I’ve also got to write up the new low level route between Ivybridge and Scoriton, and check out the various alternative route options along the way. All good fun.
So my friend Emma and I have been enjoying some wonderful days out lately. We started checking the route in Mid Devon, walking from Morchard Road towards Down St Mary and then south past Clannaborough Barton.
That’s where you start to pick up some fantastic views of Dartmoor’s northern slopes (see the header image too). We turned around just west of Yeoford, and on the way back stopped for coffee at the recently opened and very lovely Paschoe House Hotel – a little spot of luxury and a nice break from ploughing through the muddy red fields of Devon’s heartland!
Our next jaunt saw us walking north from Morchard Road through the rolling fields and woodland tracks to Morchard Bishop, where we had an obligatory stop (and shop – coffee and cake) at the wonderful Church Street Stores (at the halfway mark on the 102-mile Two Moors Way).
The trouble with these shorter days is that we invariably get back to the car in the dark!
This week saw us back on Dartmoor. On yet another beautiful autumn day we walked from Widecombe (a short way off the official route, but we just had to stop at The Cafe on the Green…) via Dunstone Down to Jordan, then along the pretty West Webburn river to the ford at Ponsworthy. Then up across the moor towards Bel Tor Corner, via the lovely hedgebank beeches at Primm Cottage.
The next section of the route – along Dr Blackall’s Drive above the wooded Dart Valley – is stunning at any time of year, but I’m starting to think that autumn may be my favourite season in which to walk it.
We stopped for a bite to eat at Leigh Tor –so much more extensive than it appears at first sight, and with great views towards Buckland Beacon – before dropping steeply downhill to the Dart. The fallen autumn leaves caught in calm spots on the surface of the crystal-clear water were just beautiful.
We followed the bank of the river and crossed the green sward at Deeper Marsh – no one there for once! – to New Bridge, where we watched a group of kayakers for a while before turning round and retracing our steps back to Widecombe. What a glorious day to be out on Dartmoor – one of those really ‘good to be alive’ ones!
PS And yes – we did get back in the ‘almost dark’ – yet again!