WHITCHURCH DOWN, A MIX OF FIELDS AND MOORLAND WALKING
START POINT: 505736

 

The cold May continued and with only a month to midsummer day, it was another day of sunshine and heavy showers and temperatures struggling to reach double figures, wonderful!!

Despite the weather forecast 28 walkers turned up at the car park for the 8 mile walk, organised and led by the redoubtable Des Deveney.

At 10.30 AM we were advised by Des that the walk would be easy and there were no hills to speak of, if that's true then it will be a first for Dartmoor walks.

The outline route is given above. It is relatively accurate but since the first part of the walk was along footpaths it is important to see the footpaths marked on a larger scale map.

As usual and particularly with this route, the best way of following the route is to relate my outline to a 1:25000 map of Dartmoor, the outdoor leisure map 28 is a suitable one to use.

We followed the route from the start point car park to Caseytown, then up to the moors incidentally. You will only find this detail out by reading the write up which is given below, with supporting photographs.

After all but one of the group decided it was better to don wet weather gear from the start, Jack S being the exception, we were off heading along the side of the road in the direction of Tavistock.

The road borders the golf course, Before long we swung left off the road and followed a stone wall down to the start of the footpaths.

We turned left and passed through the first of many gates and stiles during the fields section of the walk.

Our route took us first to Holwell and then continuing easterly towards Caseytown and more stiles.

We turned south east for a few hundred yards passing by stables and horse paddocks and barking dogs, friendly enough but noisy to warn the occupants that people were around.

 

We turned more easterly and headed along the defined footpaths towards Downhouse.

At one stage we seemed to come upon a farmers junkyard, there was a small dinghy that I fear will never sail again.

What purpose it serves now is quite beyond me.

I guess if Dartmoor floods badly then it could possibly serve a purpose..........

 

Alongside the seemingly pointless collection of old junk was a Morris Traveller. Jack, who I know is looking for a replacement car for his wife seemed quite taken with it and even ventured into it for a test drive.

Unfortunately, the farmer was wise to the potential theft and had cunningly removed the engine, doors and other important little parts, like the wheels.

I have it on good authority, however, that Jack will be putting in an offer on it.

Moving on and over another stile or two we found ourselves under a large tree when the sky grew dark and the heavens opened for a really heavy shower, hailstones, the lot, just a typical summers day in England.

Opportune as it was, this enforced shelter became our morning coffee stop.

After the break we continued on to a lane and turned left heading due north by the side of the lane.

The route grows particularly hazy at this point, we followed a road east for about a half a mile and in the vicinity of Moortown swung north east up across the low moors.

We crossed over a small brook and started our uphill section, passing Feather Tor to our right hand side as we followed the course of the small brook tumbling down from the moors.

I was back on more familiar territory once again with the landmarks of the Tors to help with the navigation.

After more than half a mile of easy uphill walking we saw a cross in the distance and headed towards it. The cross was somewhat tilted from the vertical.

 

As one of the group shows it is easy enough to counterbalance the stone with your own bodyweight.

We waited by the cross for the group to get together once again after the slight uphill section to this point.

 

Just beyond the stone cross is mini dam together with a bullseye stone to control the flow of a small amount of water away from the main brook into a small stream.

I guess it once had a purpose but I'll have to read up to find out what it's use really was.

We turned east at this point and skirted Feather Tor on our right hand side and headed to the right of Vixen Tor where a track was clearly visible.

It was about half a mile from the bullseye stone to the lunch break point taken in the lee of Heckwood Tor.

The visibility was good and due east of us we could see Kings Tor and beyond Kings Tor the mast of North Hessary Tor stood out very clearly. Virtually due north of Heckwood Tor we could also see Great Staple Tor.

When the visibility is good, navigation on this part of the moor is very easy, when the fog and the low cloud is around, navigation is an entirely different matter.

After a pleasant lunch break stop, out of the wind, we continued and made our way around Heckwood Tor to pick up a clear track heading South West.

We approached Pew Tor cottage in its own enclosed area of the moor. As the name suggests, it lies close to the Tor of the same name.

We swung west and looped south around a rock basin before turning north again and making our way up towards Pew Tor. We didn't go to the top of the Tor but followed the contours around the Tor to it's western side.

The route then swung south west again and led us down off the moor to a narrow road which we followed down towards Plaster Down. We walked across the down and continued to near Bleak House.

Continuing on, we followed a small road until we saw a sign indicating we were approaching Shorts Down.

Since Des had indicated that we would be having a break on the down followed by a comfort stop, some of the group thought the name to be particularly appropriate.

We stopped by a hedge on the down for the last stop of the day and then we were off again, heading north west across the down.

Leaving the down our next point to aim for was the small hamlet of Middlemore, below us off the down.

To reach Middlemore, we followed a steeply descending, badly eroded path, scoured by heavy rain to leave a wet and slippery rock surface to gingerly make our way down.

We all took care as the path was indeed very slippery, one or two did slip but we all made it down to the small hamlet in the end.

Passing through the hamlet, keeping close to the houses, we were soon once again out on the fringe of Whitchurch Down and the golf course once again. The car park was about a half a mile away along the down to the north east.

Once on the down, we turned towards the car park and made our way towards it, up the slope by the road and we had completed the 8 miles with only one really heavy downpour.

We had indeed been very lucky with the weather. Thanks were given to Des for leading us around without getting lost, and we were on our way back to Plymouth again via Horrabridge, since there was no need to go back via Tavistock.

At home the first chance to try to work out the route we had taken, I think this is an accurate description of the route, but I am just a little unsure of the route during the first part of the walk until we reached the moor and the Bullseye Stone.