SHIPLEY BRIDGE, THREE BARROWS AND HUNTINGDON WARREN
GRID REFERENCE: 681 629

The walks leader for the day was John Skinner, a very experienced leader with decades of experience of Dartmoor. John, as well as being a key member of the Plymouth Group, is also the chairman of Dartmoor Ramblers and has been for 15 years now.

The start point for the walk was Shipley Bridge, 2 miles north of South Brent and approximately 18 miles from Plymouth. About 15 of us met at the bridge and after a briefing from John we set off on the walk. He advised us that it would be about 10 miles and so it proved to be.

We left the car park and walked along the road westwards for a few hundred yards.

Turning right up a narrow track we were soon going uphill along a very rough track, heading south west. Leaving the track we were on the moor, still uphill but shortish grass, relatively easy walking and we made good pace.

 

Just over a mile later, we were passing a gate and a long dry stone boundary wall. the gate was shown on the map as Ball Gate, because of the two orbs sitting on top of each gate post. No one could offer an explanation for the presence of the two ornate post decorations.

We now swung north west, still walking fast and uphill. We were soon on rough moorland with grass tussocks.

A mile of rough uphill walking later and we were at the first of a number of barrows we would be passing during the walk. We had reached Three Barrows, named appropriately. It was quite misty and the views were therefore non existant, unfortunately.

Plenty of heaving chests at this point after two miles of constant uphill since leaving Shipley Bridge. We had morning coffee and soon recovered. The weather really clamped in at this point. Very black clouds and the Dartmoor rain arrived. Lots of extra wet weather gear on and we were on our way again.

 

Leaving Three Barrows, we headed north, still quite misty in the rain. Walking was relatively level for the next mile or two across rough moorland, quite wet underfoot. It was slightly uphill at times, but compared with the previous section it appeared flat!

The track was clearly defined with granite posts every few hundred yards; our problem was that the fog prevented us seeing them. We were on compass bearings for a mile until the rain eased off and the cloud lifted.

We walked for a mile and a half from Three Barrows and passed another barrow, this one was called Western White Barrow, with Eastern White Barrow visible about a mile away.

In the distance, we could see a large spoil tip at the site of Red Lake mine workings.

We were not heading for that point today though.

 

We turned north east at the barrow and headed downhill towards a valley with a stream heading down to a reservoir. Was it to be downhill for the rest of the walk?

We soon reached the valley and the stream and in this sheltered location we had lunch.

A half an hour later we were off again, walking up the valley for a short distance.

 

The crossing over the stream was via an old Clapper Bridge, this one had quite wide granite slabs to walk across.

Was this the end of the uphill section? A definite No was the clear answer. John thought we could work the lunch down by walking up a steep hill called Huntingdon Warren, rather than going around it.

We were assured that this was the last significant uphill section. No problem, you can grow to love the hills on Dartmoor I've been told.

At one stage I got rather closer to the ground than I would have wished as I tripped over one tussack too many and nosed the wet moorland!! No damage apart from to my pride and the climb continued.

 

On the way up to the top of the hill, we had good views of the Avon Dam in the distance.

 

The dam, constructed in the 50s provides water for those living in the Torbay area.

A few hundred yards on and we were at the top. For a change there was no burial barrow here, but the remains of old tin mine workings, with plenty of granite lumps, looking remarkably like the barrows we had passed earlier.

No stop here to regain our composure (or breath).

Leaving the top we strode down the other side, now walking south east. We were now descending slowly and had excellent views of the Avon Dam, providing fresh water for the Torbay area.

With the half a mile long dam on our right hand side we continued along the contours of the ridge with relatively easy walking and we swung almost due south.

 

It was two to three miles of slow downhill descent from Huntingdon Warren down back towards the only real Tor we met today. Tucked away almost and just above Shipley Bridge sits Shipley Tor.

Aproached from the north, as we did, it isn't really visible until a hundred yards away.

We tucked ourselves away in the lee of the Tor and had our afternoon tea.

Although just above Shipley bridge we had to head away from the car park, back north towards the dam, dropping down to a river to find the first bridge upstream about a half a mile detour.

 

Crossing the bridge we then followed a narrow road back down towards the car park.

We passed some evidence of old buildings on our right. These were the ruins of a once active youth hostel.

When the dam was built, the authorities decided it was to too dangerous to have a youth hostel just below the dam. In the event of a dam burst, the hostel would have been swept away. 50 years later, little remains, as you can see.

 

The narrow road we were on ran parallel to the river which was flowing quite quickly.

The river, unsurprisingly called the Avon, continues down through South Brent and on to the sea.

We were soon back to the car park, at about 3.20 PM, just over 5 hours on Dartmoor for an excellent walk, again!!!

Thanks to John Skinner for his leadership during the day and back to Plymouth to take those sharing the car to their own vehicles. Another good day out with the ramblers.