STEPS BRIDGE CIRCULAR WALK TO MARDON DOWN AND RETURN VIA CLIFFORDS BRIDGE
START POINT GRID REF: 804883

Steps Bridge is a beauty spot located at the eastern edge of Dartmoor, about five miles east of Mortonhampstead on the B3212 road to Exeter.

Ivan Mead, who led the walk, enjoys woodland, fields and riverside walks as well as the more rugged moorland terrain. A look at the map reveals that Steps Bridge traverses the River Teign and the green on the map also suggest plenty of woodland in the area. So it proved to be and the 32 ramblers, who made the 30 mile trip to the far side of Dartmoor, were ready at the car park by 10.30 AM.

When Ivan leads a walk it is normal to expect bad weather, on the 21 May 00, heavy showers and cold north west winds were forecast. In reality, although we had some light showers, there was no heavy rain and therefore for an Ivan led walk, it was most definitely a good fine day.

The map above shows the outline of the route we took and it should be related to a 1:25000 map Ordnance Survey map of East Dartmoor to be able to trace the route in detail.

The walk had been advertised as including one steep climb.

Now it all depends what is meant by steep of course but those who had walked with Ivan did assume there may be a number of hills to go up, which were not graded by Ivan as steep.

We left the car park by the east entrance and there was a sign advertising cream teas at Steps Bridge.

We didn't actually see a bridge as shortly after turning left onto the road we took a footpath leading right into the woods and away from the bridge.

As we made our way east for a few hundred yards we could see the river Teign flowing below us on our left side. Soon, we were climbing up, still east for a few more hundred yards, then around a sharp corner to continue the climb up through the wood, heading to the south west.

This uphill section was not the one graded by Ivan as the steep one.

The path was very narrow and so it was single file up through the woods. It was fairly steep nevertheless and most definitely quite a long climb to get us into the mood.

It was at least a mile before we reached relatively level ground and an ascent from 120 metres at Steps Bridge up to 300 metres at the top.

We emerged from the woods and took a wider footpath still climbing however up towards Lowton and a farm.

Eventually we emerged from the footpath to a wide gate leading into fields. On our left hand side was a farm and we went into the field through the gate and skirted the edge of the field just above the farm.

We crossed into another field and continued across the field to a small gate at the far side.

From this point we had good views of a distinctive looking hill on a bearing of 205 degrees from where we were.

After discussions and reference to Frans' GPS we established that it must be Heltor Rock.

At least Ivan did, I misinterpreted the map and thought it was Blackingstone Rock, two miles further on in the same direction, I really must remember to bring reading glasses on the walks if I am to stand any chance of checking the map en route!

We stopped by a hedge for morning drinks and then we went through the gate and made our way down to a farm at the lower end of the field.

Initially the farm looked derelict until we were almost upon it. It wasn't empty, there were two land rovers parked and one of the buildings was clearly inhabited.

We made our way through the farm and continued on our way. For a short distance we were downhill heading southwest and then came another steep little uphill bash. After a short section of road walking descending down to some renovated houses, we made our way through the obviously converted old farm buildings and then onto a track for a level section followed by a steep descent down the few hundred yards to the road leading down to Steps Bridge.

We turned right, walked along the road in single file for two or three hundred yards and then turned left and dropped down to a valley and a small river to be forded. There were stepping stones but some of them moved and many chose to wade through the shallow water.

Where was the steep uphill section mentioned by Ivan at the start? It was directly ahead. We had a steep ascent up towards Mardon Down almost 100 metres above us.

We all reached the top without harm, passing an old farm en route and we were on moorland for the first time. We stopped at the top for lunch, but not for long. The cold north west wind was cutting across the Down and this soon cooled us from being warm from the climb to quite cold and quickly too.

We were off and heading across the edge of the down towards a road leading down to a valley and Clifford Bridge over the Teign. After a minor detour to private land and back we were on the road soon enough for the one mile steep downhill section to the bridge.

We passed a camping park just before the bridge, crossed the bridge and took the footpath which ran along the side of the River Teign, on the north side of the river which led all the way back to Steps Bridge, just over two miles further down stream. Half way along we stopped by the side of the river for an afternoon tea stop.

 

After all the ups and downs of the ealier section of the walk, this was a very easy and relaxing way to complete the walk with a riverside stroll.

As we aproached Steps Bridge, we began to pass other people out for a short Sunday afternoon walk along the river.

We could see Steps Bridge through the trees and it is quite wide. Unfortunately the trees prevented a decent shot of the river or the bridge.

 

Crossing the bridge, the picture looking back, shows the river flowing down to the bridge. The hotel/restaurant is just out of the picture on the south bank of the river.

A few yards up along the road from the bridge, heading west and we were back once again in the car park.

This was one of the walks where at the end, I felt that I wouldn't be able to easily retrace my steps around. There were so many twists and turns in the walk that parts of it were quite a blur, particularly in the late morning section.

I asked Ivan to show me once again the route we had taken so that I could produce an accurate route outline for this write up.

Having thanked Ivan and Doreen for showing us an area of Dartmoor new to many of us, we were soon on our way back to Plymouth once again, through Mortonhampstead and across Southern Dartmoor via Postbridge, Two Bridges, Princetown and Yelverton.