THREE BARROWS, RED LAKE, BROAD FALLS AND PUPERS HILL
START POINT: SHIPLEY BRIDGE GR: 681 629

The walk on 25th October 00 was led by Hazel Smith and we knew it would be a testing walk. Hazel had graded it as moderate to strenuous walk of 10/11 miles and the climbs, moorland tussocks and the marshy conditions underfoot certainly made it feel rather more strenuous than moderate.

14 walkers met at the Shipley Bridge car park for a 10 AM start on a mildish day with some morning sun. But of course up on the moors the weather can change in minutes and it certainly did.

 route taken
The outline of the route we took is shown above and most of the key points we visited are annotated. This route should be related to a suitable 1:25000 ordnance survey map of the area such as the leisure map no 28 of Dartmoor.

We left Shipley Bridge at 10 am and turned south and headed downhill for a few hundred yards untilwe passed the cottage on the right-hand side. Shortly after that we turned right in through a gate for the beginning of a steep climb up to Three Barrows.

The initial climb was up a rough and stony track between hedges to the moor above. When we arrived at the Moor through a gate we headed due west straight up for approaching a 900 ft ascent for one and a half mile up to Three Barrows.

We were on short cropped moorland grass to start with which became more tussocky the further we progressed towards Three Barrows. About three hundred yards before we reached this first landmark we saw a hut circle on our right hand side.

Once this will been completely enclosed building but now all that is left of a few granite lumps and the outline of the original circular walls. The cow watching us seem quite interested in why we had stopped.

 

However we didn't stop for long and soon we were up at the top of Three Barrows and its trig marker. The area is so called because there are three burial mounds there and one of them was to be our first stop for morning coffee.

During the break we noticed ominous black clouds approaching us then the sure enough the fine weather disappeared and the rain started, initially light, but progressively more heavy for the next hour or more.

 

After putting on our wet weather gear we headed off on a bearing of approximately 330 degrees towards a disused railway lines at a spot called Left Lake.

In its heyday this area was centre for clay and granite mining and after a walk of a half a mile or so we could see an old bridge which once carried the tramway, (not a railway) and in front of it a lake.

 

This lake was once the site of a work pit and over the years since the pit became disused it has filled with water and it was given the name of Left Lake.

We climbed up to the bridge and then followed the railway line as it made its way north north east for the next few hundred yards up a slight incline to whole time.

I was advised that once this tramway linked Red Lake to Ivybridge way off the moors below us.

 

We could have continued along this dismantled tram line until we reached Red Lake itself. However our leaders intention was for us to continue on 330 and head down to Stony Bottom and to cross a brook and then to approach the Red Lake from the West.

The brook was in full flow and the crossing had to be carried out with care.

As the photograph shows, being a good leader Hazel helped everyone across and made sure that no one came to grief.

We made our way across Stony Bottom, called because of the many granite stones lying there and made our way up on a bearing now off approximately 020 degrees pass two more Dartmoor Pounds.

The pounds themselves are not shown in the photograph but the stone row linking them can be seen.

To avoid a very marshy area and we made around to the North West of Red Lake rather approaching it directly since from the position of the pound it was virtually due North of us.

By swinging around to the left of the Red Lake tip we avoided the worst of the mire, although the ground was very wet indeed and even though we missed the mire, we still had plenty of marshy ground to contend with. 

The local landmark, seen from miles around, the Red Lake spoil tip grew ever closer and after are getting on for 30 minutes of walking from Stony Bottom we were were at the base of this landmark.

Just to the south of the spoil heap was the lake which gave the name to the place.

Once, this had been a thriving china clay works, long disused and the hole now the site of a large lake, named Red Lake.

No idea why it was called a Red Lake, it looked the same colour as the others we had passed.

We made our way around the edge of the heap, passing another smaller lake on the other far right hand side and headed across and the general direction of Huntingdon Warren on a bearing of 080 degrees.

The going was relatively easy although still very marshy in places and soon we arrived above the River Avon in full flood.

The area was known as Broad Falls, so called because the water tumbled down over large granite lumps giving the appearance of a waterfall.

We stopped just below the falls for lunch out of the winds just a few feet above the River Avon.

After lunch we walked along the west side of the river down around the base of Huntingdon Warren hill avoiding the marshes as much as we could.

 

After a few hundred yards we came across a lovely old clapper bridge. We crossed it and then continued along on the Eastern side of the Avon still skirting around the high hill of Huntingdon Warren.

 

We were moving closer to the route of the Two Moors Way, a very well-known moorland route linking Dartmoor and Exmoor.

In front of us we could see one of the many stone crosses on Dartmoor.

This one is known as Huntingdon Cross, I was unable to determine how it got the name or indeed how the hill behind it had got the name of HuntingdonWarren.

We followed the lower contours of the hill and headed in a North Easterly direction walking alongside an unusually named brook, called the Western Wella Brook.

 

At one point, just across the other side of the Brook, we could see a disused building, derelict now, either a farm or the sight of mine workings a hundred years ago.

We continued up the left-hand side of the Brook until we came across another clapper bridge over the brook with a ford just beyond it. Hazel and her two front runners John and Norman posed for the camera on this old bridge.

Having crossed the brook we then headed up to the hill north east of us for a climb of a few hundred metres to the top. The hill is called Pupers Hill and it has a Tor and a cairn atop it.

We stopped them the lee of the cairn and rock outcrop at Pupers Hill for an afternoon break. This was the most northerly point of the walk.

We seemed to have been walking uphill for quite a long time so inevitably the rest of the walk was going to be generally downhill, either that or the earth has turned upside down!!

Leaving Pupers Hill, we headed along a well defined track descending in a South East direction crossing the line of the Abbots Way and then up to the top of a hill, or rather just to the West of the hill known as Gripper's Hill.

West of us was the Avon dam and reservoir with the water teeming over the dam itself, because of all the rain we have had in the last few weeks.

We continued on South, now walking parallel and above a road to our right which led back to the car park at Shipley bridge.

As we approached Black Tor on the other side of the Avon, we descended down to a bridge over the river for the final section back the car park of about a half mile along the road.

This road followed the course of the river Avon on its west wide and after all the tussocks and marshy areas of the moor, to be walking on tarmac again made us realise just how hard we had been working up on the moors above.

The river Avon was really flowing quickly with masses water rushing along.

As you can see from the photograph, there were several many small waterfalls as the water cascaded down over the granite boulders in the river.

 

We could see Shipley Bridge car park just ahead of us and we entered the car park at about 4pm, following getting on for six hours of fairly strenuous walking .

Hazel had done an excellent job in leading us and had obviously done her homework in navigating a way through all the marshes we had encountered during the day itself.

Everyone thanked Hazel for all her efforts and prior recces she had done and then we were on our cars again for the trip back to Plymouth off the moor down to South Brent and along the A 38 back to the car share point near Marsh Mills

It had been a strenuous walk at times, in fact most of the time, and very well worth while, and it introduced me to an area of the moor around Red Lake that I have often seen from a distance but never walked (or waded even) before.