HORRABRIDGE THROUGH SAMPFORD SPINEY TO MERRIVALE AND RETURN VIA WALKHAMPTON CHURCH
START POINT: ROADSIDE PARKING NEAR 'THE LEAPING SALMON' , HORRABRIDGE GRID REF: 512700

A group of ladies from the Wednesday walkers lead a walk now and then and it is offered on the walks list to be led by "The Wednesday Girls". Team leading, team recceing perhaps but on the day the walk is normally led by one of the Wednesday girls. This moderate 11 mile walk was led on the day by Christine, who has been walking with us for only a few months but who is very confident in leading a group, as we found out on the day.

The 24th April 02 was a lovely early summer day, warm, but not hot and with lots of blue sky. This certainly brought out the walkers and approaching 30 ramblers gathered outside the Leaping Salmon at the start of the walk for the 10 AM start.

An outline of the route we followed is shown above and as can be seen it is more of a stretched elliptical walk rather than circular, taking us from Horrabridge as far north as the Dartmoor Inn at Merrivale.

The outline should be used in conjunction with an OS 1:25000 map of Dartmoor so that the fields and wall boundaries and rights of way are clearly visible.

After short explanation of where we were going on the day we set off from Horrabridge making our way north along the right hand side of the car park behind the Leaping Salmon pub.

As you might expect, bearing in mind where the walk starts from, it is was mostly uphill all the way up to Merrivale from the river Walkham where it flows through Horrabridge.

After a short section of track we came to our first field, the first of many during the day.

We also met a stile again one of several, as you might expect with a significant section of the walk through fields.

 

We made our way north across the field and then swung more north east as we crossed a further two field and associated gates/stiles before coming out at a track which led us almost east across to a narrow country road, shown on the 1:25000 map as Jordan Lane.

Across the lane we went via a gate into another field and made our way north east and then north west by Monkswell House before getting onto a track/lane which we followed north east slowly climbing most of the time.  

 

 

After about 400 metres we reach Monkswell Farm with it assortment of outbuildings and farm machinery.

Some of the out buildings looked quite dilapidated but I imagine they all served a purpose to the framer.

Beyond the farm we continued along the rough farm lane, still north east until we emerged out onto another country lane which linked Whitchurch Down to the north west to Walkhampton in the sout east.

There was a house in the area to our right name Whimington on the 1:25000 map.

 

We climbed over a stile and made our way along the footpath through more fields with trees and a brook below us in the valley on our right hand side.

It was a pleasant place to stop in the dappled glade for our morning coffee.

After our short break we continued north east up along the side of the brook most of the time until we came to another country lane running south east down to Huckworthy Down and Huckworth Bridge below that.

We crossed the road, in fact walked a few metres south before entering another group of fields, following the right of way across the fields for about 0.5 km north east before arriving at Sampford Spiney and walking a hundred metres to the side of the imposing Sampford Spiney Church.

Beyond Sampford Spiney we continued north east along the country lane which then turned 90 degrees left and out onto open moorland to our right.

We made our way onto the moor and headed due north.

 

After about 0.5 km or thereabouts we passed Pew Tor off to our left. the picture to the right is of this Tor.

We didn't visit Pew Tor on this walk but followed the track, and the contours incidentally east then north east again, until we came to Heckwood Tor, just off to our left.

Ahead of us across a valley we could see Vixen Tor, in ground enclosed with a dry stone wall, but with access permitted to it via a stile in and out over the dry stone wall.

First we had to negotiate a boggy area and a brook with some stepping stones to help us.

From there we made our way into the area of land where the imposing Vixen Tor sits.

I have heard that this Tor has the highest vertical climbs of any Tor on Dartmoor and you can certainly often see climbers there practicing their skills.

It is certainly a lovely Tor to look at, particularly the southern aspect of the Tor.

We duly paid homage to the Tor and then made our way out and over a stile to the north west of the Tor.

From there we continued north east heading for the B3357 which led down to Merrivale, the old and the new bridge over the Walkham and the Dartmoor Inn where I have enjoyed a beer from time to time.

From the new bridge, there are goodviews of the old bridge with the moors and Grt MIS Tor as the backdrop.

It was the most northerly point of the walk and we often stop by the old bridge for lunch but not this time.

"The Girls" decided we would not eat until later. We made our way over the Walkham Bridge and just beyond it we turned right and followed another right of way through a farm at a spot called, making sure of course that all gates were left in the position we found them.

The track led us due south along level ground north to south, although sloping steeply down to the west towards the Walkham.

After about 0.5 kilometres we headed downhill past LongAsh and then up into a wooded area with a brook tumbling down steeply into the river valley below.

Lunch at last, in this nice leafy glade.

It was only April but warm enough for some early season sunbathing for the 30 minute break to relax, eat and rest.

After the break, we were on our way again , following the path down through the trees and by Hucken Tor just off to our right. We were descending all the time along a track, quite rough in places. About 0.75 km beyond Hucken Tor we reached a small hamlet called Daveytown and just beyond that a narrow metalled country lane lay ahead.

Once on this road we stayed on it, for approaching 2 kms heading south as the road meandered its way downhill most of the time, although there were some flat bits.

We passed by Withill and then reached a country cross roads.

I recalled the road off to our right which I used before to go up to the moors toward the direction of CripTor Farm/ Routrundle.

We remained heading south and walked by Eggworthy with a nice house and pond.

Getting on for a kilometre south of Eggworthy we came to a footpath sign off to our left over a stile and into a field. Off the tarmac again, I was pleased about that!! We followed the line of the footpath as it made its way south up across a field then along a narrow track.

There were plenty of stiles in this section, including some very old stone ones.

After the lane we made our way across four more fields, heading mostly south, across the first three fields and then south west along the side of the fourth field.

We eventually before came out to a lane with Walkhampton Church immediately ahead with Church House where we emerged.

Most of the group wished to visit the church and have a look at it.

I had to get back for an appointment and so I together with Janice Went left the main group at this point and we continued on our way, having given our thanks to Christine and 'the girls' for leading us on this nice walk.

We turned right and made our way down a track which led us downhill for about 0.5 km then out onto another country lane.

On this country lane we headed south west and just over 150 metres along it out to a T junction. We turned right and made our way downhill.

This road leads north down to Huckworthy Bridge but after only 75 metres of downhill we took the right of way off to our right and made our way downhill heading south west along a roughish lane before coming out at a very nice set of stepping stones over a brook.

Once over the brook the path was uphill for a short distance and then off south west again along the edge of Knowle Down.

At times the track here can be quite muddy and there is a slightly higher level one which can be used to avoid the muddiest area.

 

About 0.75 km of walking along the down we came at an oblique angle to a road and a cattle grid.

Once on the road it was a matter of following it due west as it descended towards the destination and our cars at Horrabridge.

As we approached the large village of Horrabridge we came upon more and more houses.

It could almost be described as a small town really, perhaps that's stretching a point.

Beyond some houses we turned off the road to our right and made our way along a public right of way which led us across playing fields and right down to the side of the Walkham and a large public village green area by the river and Horrabridge.

I wondered how Horrabridge got it's name, something to research in due course of time.

A short distance to the left of the bridge there was an easy exit over the wall and onto the road and so over the bridge and left to where my car was sitting opposite the Leaping Salmon, a pub we have used many times.

Not today though, I had things to do back in Plymouth so I was soon making my way back for the20 minute drive back to Plymouth.

It had been a good walk, blessed with good early summer sunshine and I hoped that it augered well for a good summer in 2000.