27.04.2000 - 5.05.2000
We were up just before 6:00 and were ready to leave by 6:40. It was damp and quite misty which became steadily worse until it was pouring and making driving difficult. However it then improved and at the garage in Barnstaple we were in sunshine at 11:45. Left the car and walked to the bus station, in plenty of time for the 12:55 bus to Plymouth. It left 5 minutes late! The fare was only £4.50 each for a three hour ride. It was very interesting through winding country lanes, with the driver stopping outside people's houses! It was quite tiring however. We arrived in Plymouth at 16:15 and caught the 16:30 bus to Ivybridge. This was not such good value as it was £2.50 each for 30 mins. The bus stop was opposite the B&B. Nice twin room with en-suite shower and toilet with very thick towels. The tea and coffee facilities were outside the room. Walked down the road to the town to survey the eating places which were rather lacking for a place of that size. The Sportsman Inn, was recommended by our B&B owner so we gave it a try. Don't! Alan had garlic mushrooms with a roll for starters followed by lasagne, chips and walnut baguette. I had vegetable bake and side salad (had to be requested instead of chips). It was O.K. but very greasy with much too much half baked cheese on the top, £16.00. Back to the B&B and watched T.V. in our room. B&B £36, £1.50 for 1 packed lunch - 3 sandwiches, a packet of crisps and a Twix bar.
Said goodbye to the B&B after a discussion on weather stations! He has a Davis also. The day started with blazing sunshine and we were soon thinking of shorts but decided to delay for a while. We missed the MW marker where we crossed over the railway line but not the National Park sign. Stopped for a photo opportunity to record nearby the start. Most of the first couple of hours was following the old tramway, which was really a bit boring but it made for fast progress. We saw both Hagershell Rock and Spurrell's Cross despite the speed! Spurrell's Cross is medieval and marks an ancient east-west trackway. Buzzards were circling above us and we saw a few more later in the day. Further along the tramway there are stone boundary markers which were erected in 1803. They had a U on the east face for Ugborough and H on the west for Harford. Some of them were in quite good condition. Our first stop was at 11:15, at the settling pits for the china clay works. We now decided that shorts were not an option as the wind was quite chilly. Once off the tram way navigation became more interesting and after the initial false start (we were lulled by the evidence of a path) we were spot on for the Clapper Bridge, despite me not seeing the two enclosures which were clearly shown on the map! I had my sight fixed on a single one, which was slightly further on. The way then followed the river for about a kilometre to Huntingdon Cross (16th century]), which marks the boundary between the Manor of Brent and the Duchy of Cornwall's Forest of Dartmoor. At this point there was no path on the ground and so it was compass bearings again. We had lunch just beyond this point at 13:15. I took the wind speed reading, 7mph and a temperature of 16C. Compass again down to Chalk Ford and then just followed the bridlepath to Scorriton. Sat on a seat at Scorriton for 10 minutes or so, more to kill a bit of time as we were early. Down the lane and then up-hill along a green lane to Holne. The first place we saw in Holne was a café. A happy hour was passed with one ice cream for me, one strawberry milk shake, one banana milk shake and one ice cream for Alan, £5.00 but worth it! Then the walk to Wellpritton farm. It looked easy - along the road and down the lane to passed Kinghurst but here it stopped being easy. We met a man who turned us back because, despite a track being marked on the map, it was private and the continuing way through to Wellpritton farm was blocked off with barbed wire and brambles. Back up the lane to the road and continue on to Wellpritton Farm Very nice room with en-suite bathroom, no shower though. The drawback we discovered later was that the bath took a very long time to fill, or even half fill in my case as I became fed up. We were welcomed with tea, coffee and home made cake in the resident's lounge, along with a Dutch couple with two young sons. We had our evening meal at 19:00. Grapefruit, parsnip and mushroom bake with new potatoes and peas. Followed by a huge bowl of strawberries and cream and cheese and biscuits. Coffee and tea in the lounge. We had our meal with a lady called Lydia who was researching her family tree. She was also a member of the Ramblers Association and had been on a few Rambler's holidays B&B + evening meal £56, £4.50 for 1 packed lunch - 2 cheese and tomato baguettes, packet of crisps, 2 small bars of chocolate and an apple .
Again, Alan resisted the cooked breakfast, despite the very appetising smells that were coming from the kitchen. It was quite misty and very humid when we left at 8:45. We walked down the lane and rejoined the 2MW at New Bridge over the River Dart. It may be called New Bridge but it was built in the 15th century. We walked under the bridge and followed the riverbank for a short way. It was very pretty but I, for one, was keen to ascend Leigh Tor. This is notable because it is not of granite, as are most of the tors, but schort, which is black tourmaline with veins of white quartz. Quite distinctive. Then, over the road and onto the Access Land of the moor and up Aish Tor for the views. We met the three men whom we passed yesterday on the tramway. We named them the "Three Stooges" as we thought that we might be seeing a lot of them over the next few days. The way then followed Dr. Blackall's Drive above the river to cross some farmland to Bell Tor Corner. Here the Western route split off from the Eastern and Central routes. The Three Stooges took the Western route and that was the last we saw of them. We followed the Eastern and Central down to Ponsworthy and along the river to Mill House with its old mill stones on display. It was very pretty, with the usual abundance of wood sorrel and violets. Slightly boggy but it was along the river! A little lane walking up to the edge of the Access land where we split from the Eastern route. We had chosen the Central route as it appeared to be more interesting because it needed more navigation over open ground. Alan started to struggle just before we reached Hameldown Beacon but had been going well until then. I saw the boundary stones with DS for the Duke of Somerset and the date, plus the following names Hamilton Beacon, (on Hameldown), Two Barrows, Single Barrows and Broad Barrow, all to mark another border dispute back in the 1850s. I was interested and enjoying all this. Alan was not, as it had become just a plod for him. Hameldown Cross also had HCDS and 1854 distinctly engraved. At this point I managed to get Alan to stop and have some lunch, food usual lifts his spirits. Lunch did its trick for a while and we walked down to look at Grimspound, Dartmoor's best-known ancient monument. We were a little disappointed but then ancient monuments are not really our scene. We contoured around Hookney Tor and onto the road for a little way before striking off over the moor again to Bennett's Cross. It was twisted and at an angle as if it was slightly inebriated. We crossed the road and looked for a path on the other side but couldn't see one, so more navigation to cross Chagford Common. I was slightly higher up than Alan but we both saw a distinct line of stones running N-S over the common. Somewhere here we joined the Western route but again saw no indications of a track. We reached the track at the edge of the common at 1500 and sat down for a rest in the sun. The Eastern route rejoined as we left Dartmoor and from Yardworthy to Leigh Bridge was across fields and down a green lane, all very muddy in places. Not really enjoyable for either of us and we were quite glad to be able to phone Mr. West to say that we would be at Chagford Bridge at 17:10. We had previously arranged for him to collect us here to drive us to the B&B, which was off the way and quite complicated to find. All went as arranged and we were soon at the B&B. Nice large room, twin beds and en-suite shower and toilet. No tea or coffee on arrival but there were facilities in the room. Mr West phone the pub in Chagford to reserve us a table for 19:30. Unfortunately they were going out, so couldn't give us a lift and by 18:30 we were once again walking. Only the 2.5km into the village though. The meal was quite good after we asked to sit at another table as there was a woman smoking next to us. Alan had smoked salmon rolls stuffed with crab, game pie toped with potatoes and carrots and broccoli. I had mushroom risotto with side salad and half a pint of Guinness. Good value for £20. We were back at the B&B at 21:00. B&B £45 + £4.50 for 1 packed lunch - two lots of cheese and tomato sandwiches, one of cheese, crisps, two slices of sponge cake and an apple and an orange. She said that she had put in a little extra as I didn't have breakfast!
The day started well with Mr. West bringing us fresh milk at 7:30! Very kind of him but not taking nightwear means that you cannot leap out of bed to open the door. Alan had the full breakfast today as we decided that he needed it. Half a grapefruit with orange slices, two fried eggs, one sausage, one rasher of bacon, two tomatoes, black pudding, sauté potatoes and three slices of fried bread, followed by toast and croissants, tea and juice, I think that he left the toast. I had my usual juice and coffee. We were obviously the days entertainment for them as we were taken to admire the view from their living room window, which was lovely. We were also given the run down on who lived nearby, the fox that had killed their chickens, including Mussolini, her favourite. They had moved about five years ago from London specifically with the plan of making money by doing B&B. We set off at 9:15, spurning the offer of a lift back to the path, as we were keen to get walking. We soon rejoined the path just north of the bridge from where Mr. West had collected us yesterday and turned to walk along the river bank. Alan was having trouble with his feet so was not interested in the view or the sculptures that lay in our way. I saw the split nut that was on the island but didn't think of taking a photo. Why do I carry a camera? The sculpture was by Peter Randall-Page and was titled "Granite Song". Personally I thought "Split Nut" was much more apt. We followed the river over Dogmarsh Bridge and into the NT land of Castle Drogo Estate. We then turned away from the river to join the path up towards the castle. The path climbed steadily, returning back towards the river again and then along the side of the escarpment. The view back along the Teign gorge was spectacular in a gentle English way. Alan was now really struggling but in his usual stoical way not saying what was the matter. He didn't want to stop and rest or eat a Mars bar, either usually give him a temporary lift. By the time we reached Drewsteighnton I was trying to thing of ways we could stop here for the night and then get a bus to somewhere useful the next day, forgetting it was Sunday and tomorrow a bank holiday. He would not agree, so we just plodded on. We stopped in a field for lunch at 12:45, just after crossing the A30. It was warm enough to sunbathe for a while, 21C, and no wind. Alan started to go better after he had eaten and rested but the best part of both the walking and scenery was over for the day. From Hittisleigh Cross onwards it was all on tarmac lanes except for a short stretch on a green lane. We made good time though and were at the B&B by 16:15, only to find an envelope pinned on the door addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Williams containing a door key and a note. Mrs. Hockridge had gone out for Sunday lunch, our room was second on the right and the bathroom opposite. Tea in the room but no coffee! I searched the kitchen but did not like to pry into too many cupboards. My first cup of tea for about twenty-five years, and I still didn't like it. We showered and tidied ourselves up and waited, as we thought that we were booked in for an evening meal. More exploring revealed the dining room already laid for breakfast! Clearly, no evening meal. We were already panicking about tomorrow's meal, as our next farm was miles from anywhere. I tried phoning but we had the wrong number, directory enquiries were no help, but I found an up to date Stillwell with the correct phone number. Phoned and all was fine, we were booked for a meal. We had our nights mixed up. Roy and Tanya (father and daughter) had now arrived and they gave us a lift to Coleford for a meal at The New Inn. I had mushroom in a stilton sauce, very tasty and Alan had fish fillets and chips and salad. £11.20, not bad. Mine was actually a starter but it was enough. Roy was intending to run the Two Moors Way but in the same stages that we were doing. Tanya was to be the deliverer and collector at each end of the day's run. They were to stay at The Oyster, our B&B, for the whole time. We returned to the B&B to find Mrs. Hochridge, Pearl as we now discovered, had returned and was very chatty. £34 for B&B and she gave us two apples. We had enough sandwiches left from Mrs West
Alan has now got his sights firmly fixed on a cooked breakfast and I think that he is regretting the ones he passed up earlier in the walk. Pearl's was not the best, but quite adequate he said. Left at the usual time of 8:45 and walked along the road to rejoin the 2MW at Whelmstone Cross. Hard roads and slippery claggy fields were the order of the day. Not much to choose between them in my opinion, both unpleasant. We crossed A377 quite easily despite the apparent speed of the traffic. The bridge over the train track was much safer! The way to Shobrooke was quite clearly marked (the book had been a bit of vague), but all was explained when we saw that the footpath marked on the map had been closed. Saw many geese and varieties of ducks at Slade but then it was onto (should that be into?) the mud again. Stopped at the pub in Morchard Bishop at 12:20 for a pint of soda and lime and to eat lunch in the garden. It was warm and sunny and we removed our boots for a while to air our feet. That was great but putting them on again was not so good. We did rather lower the tone of the place. We left at 13:00 as we still had 16.5km to go. Ernest Bevin had been to school at Morchard Bishop The fields were still muddy so we chose to take an alternative along the road via Black Dog. Again, sat outside the pub in the sun. It was closed. We passed through Stourton Barton, keeping strictly to the path as directed by more than one sign. We didn't see any of the broiler chickens that were reared there. Saw Canada Geese with goslings on the ponds. Had another sit down at Witherbridge and ate the cake that Mrs.West had given us. We missed the "prohibited" sign on the green. We were soon back in mud alongside the river and were quite glad to rejoin the tarmac road for the 2.5km up to Parsonage Cross. It seemed to go on for ever, but we arrived about 17:30. A welcome cup of tea, caffitiere of coffee and chat were soon provided. The room was a twin attic with own toilet and wash hand basin but the shower was downstairs. The owners had been there for five years. Mr. (possibly both) used to live in Chertsey. The meal was very good. Turkey escollops in sauce with potatoes, carrots and broccoli for Alan, mixed vegetables on puff pastry and salad for me, plus a glass of red wine each. Alan followed that by two helpings of apple and blackberry pie with ice cream. B&B £35, £14 for the meals and £3.50 for a packed lunch. Good value.
It was 8:45 when we left. We were ready earlier but John had forgotten to make the packed lunch. He just chatted to us while Alan was eating his bacon etc. The walk up the road seemed a lot shorter than last night even though the distance was about the same. Perhaps we were fresher. We met a North to South walker who was walking much faster than we were and his boots were not nearly so muddy. Was that a good omen? We turned off onto the bridle way, which was quite clearly divided in to a track for walkers and another for horses. The mud wasn't churned over nearly as much as others we had encountered. The diversion under the A361 was a bit grim but I think that crossing the road would have been much worse. I saw three large wooden crosses on the moor but no idea what they signified. I don't think it was for numbers killed on the road! We stopped in a field just after Highfield and it was fairly dry to sit and enjoy the sun for a few minutes. We crossed into Exmoor at Badlake Moor Cross, which was after a steep pull up the lane. It was great to be back on the moor with grass, scrub and gorse to walk on. We also saw buzzards again, last seen over Dartmoor. We stopped, just after crossing the Ridge Road for lunch. Our pleasure in the moor was short lived as we were back to the road again at Slade Bridge and then fields again. At Parsonage Farm we took the Withypool Hill route rather than the lower Tarr Stepps Route along the river. Back on the open moor again later we just sat in the sun as we had plenty of time as it was a short day. We arrived in Withypool at 16:30. Coffee and tea in the room tasted stale, but better than nothing, maybe? The pub meal was very good, two lamb chops, peas, mushrooms and chips for Alan and broccoli and pasta bake with side salad for me. Cider with the meal, good cafetiere coffee and tea after, £16.50. Back to the B&B and because it was a bit chilly we were in bed by 20:30. Old fashioned room with the bathroom next door. B&B £33 and £1.00 for packed lunch.
No nonsense with chatting, this morning, so we were on our way by 8:35. Up the road to join the path, along Kilridge lane and then onto the moor. We soon stopped and put on cagoules and hats as the mist turned to fine rain and there was quite a chill wind. The rain soon went off but we kept the cagoules on all day. As usual, I enjoyed the moor but my ankle was causing a few problems and I walked on the side of my foot for a while. Alan was also still having problems with his feet. Walked along the Barle to Simondsbath, this time opting for the river route. Despite the chill we sat and had ice creams outside the little pottery shop, (we were on holiday). It had some interesting pieces and we returned the following day. We managed to go slightly wrong after leaving the wood above Simonsbath, but a bit of compass work soon put us back on track. Perhaps we were getting blasé as we were nearly at the end. I took the wind and temperature at Exe Head, 17mph and 9C which made1C with the wind chill. Good path from here all the way to Hoar Oak Tree and we met a group out for the day and a couple who had just started the 2MW. No conversation though. We had lunch by the tree at 13:15. Cherton Ridge was easy and interesting but rather misty so the views were not very good. Sat at Smallcombe Bridge with a friendly small dog, Ben. It would be nice to have one like him. At Hillsford Bridge we had to walk up the main road for a short distance, so the discussion was should we go all the way to Lynmouth on the road? I vetoed this, I felt it would be boring. We went over the cliffs which passed a couple of ancient settlements. It was interesting but there was rather more up and down than I expected. The views could have been better in sunshine. Finally down into Lynmouth along a narrow path between houses. Arrived at the B&B 16:30. This was a business not a home. Tea and coffee in the room and no biscuits! Went to The Old Inn for a meal, vegetable lasagne with chips, which I left. Alan had honey duck legs with vegetables and potatoes followed by a huge ice cream. £21
Total distance walked: 150km, total height ascended 4,034m, total height descended 4,219m. Note: Our distances are B&B to B&B not the official route.
8:45 bus to Barnstaple to collect the car. It was raining but the ride was interesting. Drove to Appledore and Westward Ho! Both rather grim. On holiday now, so had coffee/tea and scone/doughnut at Westward Ho! On to Clovelly. £2.50 each but that was worth it as very interesting. Alan bought two crab rolls for lunch. Doing the tourist thing so bought copies of "Lorna Doone" and "The Water Babies". "Westward Ho!" was out of print. We then drove to a pottery, which was very disappointing but the cross country drive to South Morton to the Quince Honey Farm was interesting, as was the honey farm. We were the only people there. Alan indulged himself with meringue, honey ice cream, clotted cream and pouring honey, Back to the B&B via Simonsbath where Alan bought me a pottery dish that I had seen yesterday. The New Inn again for dinner as Alan had ordered a lobster thermidor with new potatoes and salad. I had vegetable lasagne again but I remembered to ask for a side salad rather than chips. I followed mine with a vanilla ice cream and Alan had a strawberry and ice cream concoction. £31
The B&B came to £108 for the two nights. Pricey for what it was, especially as neither of us had a cooked breakfast either day. We were too early on Thursday, as we had to catch the bus and we hadn't ordered one for the Friday. Normally I have to make quite a fuss about not having one. We left at about 9:30 and were home by 17:00, which included stopping at Booths for some shopping. B&Bs, evening meals and packed lunches totalled about £500. Parking for the car £25.