FROM DARTMEET AND THE EAST DART TO THE WEST WEBBURN RIVER LOOPING AROUND CORNDON DOWN (8.5m)
START POINT: DARTMEET CAR PARK GRID REF: 672732

This walk is the only one Dartmoor walk out of the getting on for 100 on the site which starts from the very popular Dartmeet CP, adjacent to the equally popular Brimpt's Tea rooms.

Summarising the walk, it takes you up alongside the East Dart River thence to the moors to the east, over Corndon Down and then to another much less known valley through which the West Webburn river flows before another hike up to Sharp Tor and then the descent back to Dartmeet again.

Fran Allen led this circular 8.5 mile walk on Sunday 29th June and 27 ramblers made it to the start point with the sun shining but with a forecast of rain later.

The outline of the route we took is given above. Study this in conjunction with a 1:25000 OS map of the area (OS Leisure no 28 of Dartmoor ) and you should have a good idea of the route we walked.

Be warned though that in mid summer and through until the winter, the high moors in the area are almost completely bracken covered which makes finding a suitable path across the moorland a bit of a lottery, particularly as the bracken grows high in mid to late summer.

After a briefing where Fran reinforced easy walking aspect of the route and left it for the group themselves to decide just how hard getting over to the next valley and back over the bit in the middle might be, we were off, leaving the almost empty car park and heading due north by Brimpts Farm Tea rooms and onto the right of way up alongside the East Dart River.

The track was a mixture of easy tracks, stones, exposed roots and easy down walking all in approximately equal measure. After a kissing gate to start with we were off along the track and soon we could see the East Dart off to our left.

We climbed slowly and came out of the woods and rough stones to be right alongside the East Dart.

At one point we were on a nice flat grassy area and just beyond it some stepping stones across the Dart. In the summer with the low rains they are way above the river level.

I well remember crossing them in very different conditions from the other side, heavy rain and the river swirling across the very top of them. Much more benign conditions today but as you can see from the map no river crossings other than via solid bridges.

We continued to head north and after about 1.5 miles of meandering along following first the East Dart river and then for the last few hundred yards the Walla Brook.

In certain conditions it can be particularly muddy and damp in this area, on this walk it was as dry as I have every seen it.

We emerged out onto the road which I had walked down many times before leading to Babeny Farm. This time the route was to be up and away from Babeny to the small group of buildings at Sherwell and then on up towards the moorland above.

We turned right and began the first real climb of the day, up, up and up we walked on our first 800 yard section of road walking.

We continued on up passing houses with the strange name of Rogues Roost and on up to Sherwell before coming to a footpath sign to take us off the road and left onto moorland for the first time on this walk.

From heading south east up the road the track onto the moor took us NNW and away from Corndon Tor high above us.

We came to a dry stone wall and walked to the right of the wall.

 

At a suitable spot with good views looking back down to the valley we had walked along, we had our morning break. After the 10 minute rest we were off again.

We continued North for about another couple of hundred yards and then we swung south east and up away from tracks across bracken covered high moor with relatively narrow tracks through the invasive weed.

We were heading up in the general direction of Corndon Down and Corndon Tor.

My previous recollections of getting to Corndon Tor involved quite a climb, not for us today though.

 

Instead of swinging south and on up, we continued on south east across increasingly bracken covered moorland with narrow sheep tracks almost lost in the high bracken.

Below us we could see farmed land and farms which the map showed to be at West Shallowford.

We descended through the bracken and emerged out onto a road by the side of a dry stone wall.

We made our way down by the side of the wall and came to another country lane which we followed down by farms and across a bridge over the West Webburn River.

 

We had reached the second river valley we were to walk along.

We continued along the road for a short distance passing a crude sign pinned on a tree indicating we were in the vicinity of East Shallowford and just off to the right, a footpath sign leading though a gate and into a field and from there down to near the West Webburn River.

We duly turned right and so gradually down to the river. Going was easy here and we made good speed as the leader was engrossed in conversation and allowed herself to walk at over 3 mph along the easy terrain.

Keep her talking Gill !!

The route here paralled the course of the river. We passed through two or three gates as we turned from walking south to east and then we could see some houses ahead which the map showed to be the hamlet of Jordan.

We made our way towards a lane at Jordan to be stopped by a frightened pony which had slipped its owner. She was being followed by a worried looking woman.

She didn't want the pony spooked by all these ramblers. We stood quietly until she was able to grab the rope that once tethered the pony.

We were then free to continue the walk.

We turned right and down some stone steps by an old building, once Jordan Mill and across a narrow wooden bridge across the West Webburn.

Once across the river we turned due south for another section of riverside walking, the river flowing down to eventually meet the Dart.

It was about 2/3 of a mile from Jordan down to the next hamlet and for the first half a mile at least we were in the woods with the track very close to the river.

 

 

Inevitably the track was very rough with the mix of stones, exposed root and muddy areas we come to expect beside a river.

About half way along we stopped for lunch, the majority opting to go into a steeply sloping field but with one or two deciding to remain in the wood for theirs.

One of our group decided to entertain the rest by demonstrating how to carry out a backward roll from his seat and down the hill, I believe he was awarded on 4.5 for artistic impression and sadly wouldn't repeat it for the camera.

After lunch we were back in the woods as we continued on down towards the small village of Ponsworthy.

Eventually we were there, out onto a cross roads of country lanes with the sign carrying the name of Forder Bridge, which of course went over the river we had been walking by.

We didn't see the bridge, instead we turned sharp right and made our way up for the second climb of the walk, again making our way up to the high moors.

The narrow road headed steeply up north west and then swung west. it felt like a long hard climb but in reality it was only for 400 yards. We came to a cross roads at the top, stopped to admire the views, and catch our breath and let everyone gather together again.

A few more yards along the road heading west and we swung left off the country lane and onto the moor again.

We were on relatively level moorland and on a wide grassy track and we even descended a little as we headed towards Primm Cottage.

We kept the small enclosed area surrounding the cottage to our left and made our way to the other side.

We could see a couple of grassy tracks heading south and both climbing up, but not too steeply.

We made our way to the crest of the hill and just beyond, exactly as Fran had predicted, we came to a car park and an ice cream van.

I recognised this car park as being the one near to Bel Tor and sure enough the signpost marker confirmed we were at Bel Tor corner car park.

Several decided it was time for ice cream refreshments.

Bel Tor is tucked away to the south east of the car park and is currently in enclosed land, I wondered if CROW would allow us access to it.

Across a deep valley, getting on for 1000 yards to the South West we could see Sharp Tor, in stark relief against the horizon.
The sun had disappeared and the clouds rolling in pointed ominously to rain before very long.

Fran indicated that going to the top of Sharp Tor was an optional extra. Most decided to drop down by the road across a stream and then take the low level climb to the north east of Sharp Tor.

Some of us decided to visit the top of the Tor and the views made the 250 feet ascent well worth it.

Having stood atop the Tor and savoured the views we descended again to the north and rejoined the main group before contouring north west then west around near another open moorland road and the car park at Yartor Down.

 

 

Below us there was a deep valley heading south down to a beautiful and all too rarely visited Luckey Tor right by the side of the River Dart.

Not for us today though as it was way out of the direction which led us back towards Dartmeet.

We walked across Yartor Down Car park and then skirted around the Down itself holding the contours as we walked south.

 

We stopped for an afternoon break before the final and steep descent south west then northwest down towards Dartmeet.

In the distance we could see the large houses down near the river some 400 feet below us.

The all enveloping bracken was once again everywhere and finding a track of any sort was quite difficult. As we descended, the river Dart could at last be seen below us in the valley.

All roads lead to Rome or in this case Dartmeet and we were soon down to a recognisable track, through a gate and down to this popular tourist area.

We made our way along the side of the river and across the double spanned granite bridges; very apt since the two rivers of the East and West Dart meet here.

The road in this area was very busy as cars queued to cross the Dart over the bridge.

Beyond the bridge, we could see the car park, so empty in the morning when we arrived at 10.15, but now getting on for 5 hours later on a Sunday afternoon, packed with visitors, many of whom venture no more than 100 yards in any direction.

 

Once there was a massive clapper bridge across the Dart just above the bridge.

Sadly only a couple of spans of it remain, it must have been quite a structure in its day.

No rain either, it had been an interesting and varied walk and it was well managed by Fran Allen, who allowed us to go ahead from time to time but stopped us when necessary.

Some stopped to enjoy a cream tea at Brimpt's Farm, most of us though headed back to Plymouth via Two Bridges, Princetown and Yelverton. As we arrived back in Plymouth there were the first few spots of the promised rainfall. As I write this the forecast heavy rain is well and truly with us.

Fran must have had the gods with her today. I well remember her first walk leading for the group a few years ago now when they were most decidedly not with her!!!

But that's another story, or should I say walk.