SKIRTING THE LUSTLEIGH CLEAVE AREA AND THE RIVER BOVEY
START POINT GRID REF: 784 793

The walk around the Lustleigh Cleave area took place on Sunday 18th June and was led by Rod and Gill Seymour. The day was the warmest day of the summer of 2000 so far with temperatures in the mid 20s and clear blue skies.

The walk was of 8 to 9 miles and was graded as strenuous with at least 4 quite steep uphill sections. Luckily for us the uphill sections were through woods and shady lanes and so we were able to avoid the direct heat of the sun as we made our way up the hills.

The start point was in a small car park about 3 miles north west of Bovey Tracey, very close to Yarner Wood which is a national nature reserve.

The map above outlines the route that we took . Since it is an outline only, you are strongly advised to relate this to the 1:25000 ordnance survey map of the area.(outdoor leisure map no 28 of Dartmoor is ideal).

18 of us gathered at the car park for a 10.15 AM start and after Rods introduction to the walk we were off.

Leaving the car park we walked down the road for a few yards before turning left and making our way north west down a steeply descending stony track for about half a mile to the river Bovey.

We crossed the high curved stone bridge over the river by the weir and then came the first of the uphill sections up through Hisley woods for about a half a mile climb before the track levelled out.

We were heading still generally North West.

After a short respite of level, even slightly downhill walking we were on our way uphill again for the second of the steep uphill sections, once again mainly through woods, heading up to the SharpiTor area.

After this long uphill climb we had left the valley and the Bovey way below us and were up at the top of a ridge with splendid views looking out across the valley.

. We stopped at the top for morning coffee before continuing north west again just above Lustleigh Cleave and along relatively level terrain.

Now and then we walked by a Tor and passed SharpiTor and the well known local landmark known as the Nut Crackers, once again I've no idea why it is so called.

We continued making our way along above Lustleigh Cleave for a mile moving out of the wooded area up on to open downs. In the distance ahead of us we could see Hunter's Tor whilst two miles away across the large valley and up on the skyline we could pick out Hound Tor and even further away the edge of HayTor rocks could be just about seen.

 

Fast progress was made along the open down moorland and we were soon by the side of Hunter's Tor and making our way over a stile by a dry stone wall to begin our descent to Peck Farm below us.

The path zig zagged its way down to the farm, the last time I had walked this route there was masses of mud to squelch through, this time the mud had dried to a hard crust so boots remained reasonably clean.

 

Leaving the farm we came upon a lane for a few yards before we swung sharp left, through a gate and headed due south as we made our way down a relatively easy slow descent to the River Bovey once again.

The slow descent south continued for a half a mile until we saw the first signs of habitation in the way of two very old animal drinking troughs.

Soon after we entered the hamlet of Foxworthy with superbly renovated old houses, with beautifully maintained large gardens. Just below the hamlet was another bridge of the river, this one called Foxworthy Bridge.

We made our way down to the side of the bridge and stopped for lunch in the warm sunshine and simply admired the views of the river, the boulders, the bridge and the glimpses of birds as the flashed around above the rock and the river.

After a good break by the bridge we set off again, keeping to the north side of the river and walking a hundred yards or so above the line of the river.

 

 

After a few hundred yards of walking to the north of the river we turned right made our way down to the river and crossed it, not by a bridge but over some huge boulders, called Neadon Steps.

The boulders make crossing river relatively easy at this time of year, when the boulders are dry, I recall that the previous time I crossed them was in winter and the crossing was much more precarious.

This led us to our next steepish uphill section between Neadon Cleave and Horsham Cleave, once again designated as a nature reserve.

 

We made our way up this steep and rough path heading south west as we climbed up and out of the valley to a small group of houses constituting a farm at Horsham.

From Horsham we took a path heading towards another Hamlet called Water.

We were now walking south east towards Water through the Letchole plantation and slightly uphill towards Water, a half mile away.

Just before reaching Water but not going into it, we swung north east and started a half a mile descent again down a rough track through woods towards the river Bovey again.

The leader was setting a cracking pace as we made our way down to the river and soon we were down to a marvellous footbridge over the river carved out of two very large tree trunks with a wooden handrail for support.

We made our way over this bridge, called Woodash Bridge, for our afternoon coffee break.

The group although spread out following the swift downhill descent soon caught us up again and we all settled down to enjoy the warm summer sun and the stream flowing under the wooden footbridge.

One rambler noticed a little swing and used as sailor John is to swinging in a hammock had soon decided that the swing would remind him of his naval days, he often swings the lantern, why not the swing.

After the break we recrossed the bridge and continued our way back, now and for the first time actually walking along the side of the river as it descended.

 

During this part of the walk we were walking through HoundTor Wood and the riverside walk continued for 1.5 miles. We eventually left the river and after a Z bend made our way down and to the river again for the last time to where we had crossed the river for the first time, some 4 hours earlier.

As we had started the walk with a steep descent to the first bridge then we were faced with the equally steep ascent again as we headed along and then up the track leading back to the road and the car park.

 

After a good lung bursting test of uphill for the fourth steep ascent, exactly as predicted by Rod and Gill we were once again turning into the car park with the wonderful views back over the area we had been walking.

It had been an interesting and varied walk around the Lustleigh Cleave area and was strenuous in places and between 8 and 9 miles in length.

It is well worth the longer drive to travel to the eastern edge of Dartmoor to experience different walking conditions in some quite picturesque conditions.

After thanks to Rod and Gill for leading us so competently we were once again on our way back towards Plymouth.

It is a pity their obvious competence doesn't extend to making Rhubarb Wine though!!!!