A Different Coast to Coast – Part 3: Dartmoor

Drewsteignton to Ivybridge – 38 miles, 2½ days

Paul’s feet seemed to have got a second wind, and he was back in the lead as we climbed up out of Drewsteignton onto the Castle Drogo estate. Familiar territory now, and I’d visited all of these tors earlier in the year, so it wasn’t a long visit. We dropped down onto the path that runs by Sharp Tor, spent a few moments there and then carried on to Hunter’s Tor. We had brief notions of a detour to the cafe for breakfast, but the few metres ascent in the wrong direction lost out to the idea of seeking sustenance in Chagford instead. And so we continued.

Sharp Tor, Castle Drogo #sh #twomoorsway
Sharp Tor, Castle Drogo
Hunters Tor, Castle Drogo #sh #twomoorsway
Hunters Tor, Castle Drogo
Unnamed pile of rocks near Dogmarsh Bridge #sh #twomoorsway
Unnamed pile of rocks near Dogmarsh Bridge

Into Chagford and the first place we walked into wasn’t doing food, so were forced to go to the pub instead. At least this one was open.

At last a pub that's open! Three Crowns in Chagford #sh #twomoorsway
At last a pub that’s open! Three Crowns in Chagford

We staggered out of the pub after a lengthy break and at that point I realised I’d lost my Pacerpoles. Realising I’d not picked them up when we escaped the “café that never was”, I scooted along the street to recover them, thankfully finding them exactly where I’d left them. Soon we were back on our way.

Puggiestone #sh #twomoorsway
About as close as you can get to the Puggiestone

A look into the garden of a house was as near as we could get to the Puggiestone.

River Teign #sh #twomoorsway
River Teign
Teigncombe #sh #twomoorsway
Teigncombe

Early afternoon saw us crossing the Teign and working our way through the Frenchbeer area, to finally gain the open moor.

Open moor at last #sh #twomoorsway
Open moor at last

We climbed over Chagford Common, the Warren House Inn our destination, but not without a visit to the stone row there.

Stone Row, Chagford Common #sh #twomoorsway
Stone Row, Chagford Common

The plan was to down some scoff at the Warren House and then walk a short distance to a wild camp. The first was no problem.

Sausage Fest #sh #twomoorsway
Sausage Fest at the Warren House Inn

The second got a bit more complicated. Taking the opportunity to book ahead for the next night in the bunkhouse at Holne, we discovered it closed ages ago (great advance research there, Paul). Knowing this meant a wild camp the following night beyond Holne, we both felt that trying to get a bit more distance under our belts today would be a good idea. We downed our pints and headed into the sinking sun.

Bennett's Cross #sh #twomoorsway
Bennett’s Cross
Sunset below Birch Tor #sh #twomoorsway
Sunset below Birch Tor

In the interests of time actually visiting the tors was jettisoned in favour of southward progress to a reasonable camp spot. Our first plan of near Grimspound (right on the edge of the allowed wild camping area), was thrown over as it was (a) occupied and (b) not that great anyway. Up onto Hamel Down we went, making it as far as Two Barrows before we called a halt. By now it was fully dark. We slithered into our tents and that was that.

Sunrise from Two Barrows #sh #twomoorsway
Sunrise from Two Barrows
The camp at Two Barrows #sh #twomoorsway
The camp at Two Barrows

Sunrise brought renewed hope and the sense that last night’s impromptu replan was going to be a big plus, as it would allow a short day into Ivybridge and a recovery of the car, thereby speeding our escape from the finish line at Wembury.

Sunrise from Two Barrows #sh #twomoorsway
Sunrise from Two Barrows

Over the familiar ground of the common we traipsed, and this time I did do the detour to Rowden Tor.

Rowden Tor #sh #twomoorsway
Rowden Tor

We followed the West Webburn for a bit and arrived in the Bel and Mel tor area. This gave me a chance to bag Aish Tor and Leigh Tor.

By the West Webburn #sh #twomoorsway
By the West Webburn
Bel Tor #sh #twomoorsway
Bel Tor
Remnants of Aish Tor #sh #twomoorsway
Remnants of Aish Tor
Leigh Tor #sh #twomoorsway
Leigh Tor

We dropped down to the River Dart at Newbridge, where Paul had pulled out last time, him joking now that he could stop as he’d already done the rest of the walk. Instead we settled for ice cream and hot drinks in the car park.

Newbridge #sh #twomoorsway
Newbridge
Coffee stop at Newbridge #sh #twomoorsway
Coffee stop at Newbridge

Holne brought another closed pub, and together with the lack of bunkhouse, just leaves the community tea room remaining. We made full use.

Closed. Of course. Holne #sh #twomoorsway
Closed. Of course. Holne
First cream tea of the walk - Holne Community Shop & Tea Room #sh #twomoorsway
First cream tea of the walk – Holne Community Shop & Tea Room

Happy now I’d got the first cream tea of the walk inside me, we ploughed on, the aim to get as far onto the moor as we could to shorten the next day. Especially as the forecast was poor.

Crossing the River Mardle #sh #twomoorsway
Crossing the River Mardle
Playing in the Avon #sh #twomoorsway
Playing in the Avon
Clapper Bridge, River Avon #sh #twomoorsway
Clapper Bridge, River Avon
#sh #twomoorsway
Big Sky Time

We made it to old workings on the side of Quickbeam Hill before the sinking sun made us call a halt.

Camp on Quickbeam Hill #sh #twomoorsway
Camp on Quickbeam Hill

The next day was miserable. We were glad we’d shortened it as much as possible by our efforts the day before. The way was straightforward though – simply along the old track and then a descent into Ivybridge.

Heading along the old railway track #sh #twomoorsway
Heading along the old railway track
At Left Lake #sh #twomoorsway
At Left Lake
Bye Dartmoor #sh #twomoorsway
Bye Dartmoor

We arrived in Ivybridge like drowned rats and on spec went to see if the pub would let us into our room early, it being only 11am ish. We were lucky and soon the room was festooned with wet gear. Paul headed off to recover the car from home. I headed off to the chip shop. I think I had the better deal.

Click on the map to explore in Social Hiking
Click on the map to explore in Social Hiking

The full set of photos can be found on flickr

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