Post summer magazine recreation for the editor!
Once the summer issue of Dartmoor Magazine is out of the way I can look to other tasks, and so I’ve just got stuck into some revision work for Crimson Publishing‘s Dartmoor Pathfinder Guide. I’ve been working on all the southwest titles for several years, and researched and wrote PFG North & Mid Devon in 2011 (reprinted and amended in 2014 and 2017). People often refer to the books as ‘those green books with OS maps’. The series has been around since the early 1990s, but have really stood the test of time.
The decision behind which routes to check depends on what may have happened since the last update – in the case of PFG Dartmoor I wanted to alter the end section of one walk to avoid the now-very-fast stretch of road between the drive to Prince Hall Hotel and Two Bridges. I checked out four circular routes: Lydford Gorge, Horrabridge (beautiful, but on a dull day), Mary Tavy and Two Bridges (photos from these two to follow). It’s highly enjoyable work – and always interesting to see what has changed in the intervening years.
The Mary Tavy walk (c. 8 miles) starts from the church, and wends its way through fields and via tracks onto Horndon Down – which is where the views start! Once over the brow of the hill (this photo was take looking back along the route) you get great views towards Ger Tor, Hare Tor and Tavy Cleave. The way then drops down to Hill Bridge, where we stopped for a bit to eat (it was a hot and muggy day) by the cooling waters of the River Tavy.
We followed the beautiful leatside path through Creason Wood (the leat feeds Bennett’s Reservoir) to reach Horndon Lane. Then it was on to Cudlipptown, past Boulters Tor on Smeardon Down, and back to the start via Peter Tavy and a crossing of the Tavy river. It’s a wonderful walk (Walk 22 in the book).
Yesterday a friend and I tackled Walk 25 – 9 miles in the book, but they always end up longer for some reason – and this one needed to be extended at the end anyway – we ended up walking 12 miles in great heat! It was the most beautiful afternoon. We started from Two Bridges, and headed up the West Dart valley towards Wistmans Wood.
We crossed the ridge to the east of the river by Longaford Tor, then skirted the old gunpowder factory and associated buildings at Powdermills (header image). A bit of welcome relief from the hot sun came as we walked through Bellever Plantation before ‘up and over’ Bellever Tor.
Next stop Dunnabridge, and down to cross the West Dart via the blocky stepping stones near the junction with the Swincombe river. Nearby we found the most beautiful hawthorn tree, smothered with blossom.
On we went across the Swincombe, through the farm at Sherberton and over the common to cross the West Dart again. Then it was up the amazing beech-lined drive that leads to Prince Hall Hotel and the Dartmoor Training Centre.
On reaching the B3357 we turned right, then crossed the road and headed up the bridleway across Muddilake (not very after all this dry weather!). We crossed the B3212 near Cherrybrook Hotel, then skirted the field wall… through a gate, then headed for Crockern Tor. From there it was easy to drop back to the outward path and return to the car park at Two Bridges.
I’m pleased to say that the amended finish worked really well (I only hope that the publisher likes it too). We ended up having a refreshing drink in the garden at the Two Bridges Hotel… in the company of those famous geese, looking remarkably relaxed in the evening sunshine!