UP THE ERME ACROSS TO SHELL TOP AND DOWN THE YEALM
START POINT: NEW WASTE CAR PARK GRID REF : 625 610

This walk, led by Norman Chynoweth on 19th June 02 appealed to me for a range of reasons including a start point at New Waste CP that I had never used before and the chance to walk alongside the Erme and Yealm, again which I rarely have.

It was a actual summers day on the moor, with plenty of warm sunshine and there were 25 walkers at the small car park at 10 AM ready for the 10 mile walk.

An outline of the route is given above. As usual it should be stressed that this route is illustrative only and should be used in conjunction with a suitable 1:25000 map of the area such as the rdnance survey leisure map no 28 of Dartmoor.

The first point to note about this car park is that is takes a little finding and once there that it is one of the smaller car parks we use.

To get to New Waste drive to Cornwood and then on north east for a little under a mile to Torr. Turn left and then almost immediately right and up a very narrow country lane to the end of the road and a small car park, at New Waste.

 

After a few words from Norman at 10 AM we were off heading up a concreted track towards a SWW water treatment works.

Before reaching the works we swung off to the right and made our way around the bottom of a copse before returning via a stile to the main track heading east at the far end of the treatment works.

It is a well defined track and we were making good progress towards the Erme. Before long, in the valley below us we could see the River Erme flowing down below us.

The track then swung north and paralled the Erme.

 

Across the other side of the river we could see Piles Copse, one of the three old oak tree wooded areas left on the moor.

This oak wood is perhaps the best example of the three areas on the moor.

The track ran quite close to the river and was still a good wide track, although there were some large puddles which needed to be avoided.

 

As we made our way up we could see an old tinners hut off to our left and ahead a solid looking man made weir.

We stopped here for morning coffee to admire the river and the area of the weir in general.

We were soon on our way again upstream still following the track.

 

 

To the east, across the other side of the river we passed by first Left Lake and then Dry Lake with evidence of mine workings and the streams running down to feed and swell the Erme.

As we followed the track, now becoming much less of a track, along the side of the Erme, we were heading more NW.

It seemed as if our easy walking along clear paths was to soon become but a fond memory.

 

We were soon on typical moorland and we now headed away from the Erme as we found a crossing point across Bledge Brook, only about half a mile upstream of the weir.

Once across the brook we were still paralleling the Erme although it was further away from us than before and we were now starting the harder section of the walk.

 

We were heading just east of north and after a few hundred yards we came upon a very fine example of a stone circle known as 'The Dancers' Stone Circle.

We stopped to look at the circles and to hear some information from Norman on the Stone Circle and on the stone row immediately north of the circle. This stone row is said to be the longest stone row in Europe, let alone on Dartmoor.

Up to now the walk had been very easy, all that was now about to change. Norman pointed out that the next couple of miles were quite wet and of course tussocky and also uphill all the way.

The combination of the three made the two miles quite hard work, squelching along, uphill and more uphill as we climbed up and around Yealm Head.

As we approached the head of the Yealm there were some large peat banks exposed and care needed to be taken to avoid ending up at the bottom of one of these drops.

The group had become very fragmented as we climbed at widely differing rates up the long incline but thanks to a couple of falls, but no submissions, we did stop to eventually regroup.

Just beyond the top of Yealm Head we stopped for lunch and to enjoy the views looking down the Yealm which we would be following later in the walk.

After lunch we were off again towards the most westerly point of the walk, overlooking the clay pits.

 

To reach Shell Top involved more uphill to gain the high ground and then across south west to Shell Top and the panorama afforded by looking west down towards Lee Moor and the clay works spread out below us and beyond that down to Plymouth and the sea.

Shell Top certainly enables the walker to see the extent of the clay workings extending all over Lee Moor.

 

 

From Shell Top we headed south for about a half a mile along a well defined path to Penn Beacon and more superb vistas unfolded in front of us.

Having been to this western edge of the moor it was time to head back east across the moor to pick up the Yealm once again.

We descended east to cross a couple of brooks including Ford Brook which as the picture shows is close to the corner of a dry stone wall which we followed up and down for a mile as we headed east.

The dry stone wall marks the boundary transition from moorland to enclosed land.  

The dry stone wall went up and down the contours and meandered as it did so, no straight wall this one.

As we followed the dry stone wall, we crossed the odd brook or two and off to our right we could see Dendles' Waste, once a wooded area but now severely deforested near the open moor.

 

After 20 mins or so we descended steeply down to the valley through which the Yealm flows down from Yealm Head.

Just upstream from where we were trying to cross the river we could see the splendid cascading waterfall known as Yealm Steps.

There is one of the better examples of waterfalls on Dartmoor.

 

It is quite spectacular to sit at the rocks atop the waterfall and to look down the steps and on down the valley through which the Yealm flows.

With a little bit of risk taking we all managed to get to the far side of the Yealm from where we commenced our riverside descent back towards the car park at New Waste.

 

Not far down the river we came across a valley leading into the Yealm through which flowed Ranny Brook.

This was yet another brook to cross which again most of us managed without too much difficulty.

We continued down alongside the Yealm with Dendles Waste across on the other side of the river and then gradually moved away from the river as we kept out of the enclosed land of Harrowthorm Plantation.

 

 

Before long at the side of the enclosed land we came to a gate leading to a path for the final few hundred yards back to the New Waste Car Park.

En route we found just one final brook to cross before we got back to the car park.

It had been an interesting walk encompassing the two rivers albeit rather wet as we climbed up and around Yealm Head and I had met yet more areas of Dartmoor I hadn't walked before.

Norman had once again managed to entertain us in a variety of ways and the double act with JR is always one worth seeing.