WIDICOMBE TO GRIMSPOUND VIA JAYS GRAVE
START POINT GRID REF: 719 768

This walk was led by Eric Smith on Wednesday 26th Jan 2000. He offered the walk as a recce to fill a blank walks date on the Plymouth Ramblers list.

What a good job he did offer. The winters day was one of blue skies, light winds and in consequence sub zero temperatures on the moors, a beautifully crisp walking day.

Despite it not being published on the walks list the walk still attracted 12 walkers out to enjoy the day who wanted to make the most of the 10 mile walk on a lovely winters day.

The map above illustrates, in outline, the route taken. For a clearer picture of the route refer to the O.S. 1:25000 map of Dartmoor and relate the outline to the detailed map and the illustrated description below.

At 10.30 AM we were off from the Widicombe car park ,leaving the village turning left by the church opposite the car park. We were soon working hard as we climbed to the north east up the first very steep hill of the day along a narrow lane.

We continued to climb for about a mile, this certainly would warm us up.

We could see the top of the hill ahead but we had to take great care at times, as there was sheet ice across the road in places.

As we reached the top, Bell Tor loomed large a couple of hundred yards to our left.
We had reached the top of our first strenuous uphill section and were on Bonehill Down. Out of the suns rays Bonehill Rocks to our right looked very icy.

We headed across the down, still north east making our way across now relatively level land looking for our next landmark about 1.5 miles on.
The landmark we were looking for was Hound Tor and as we approached it ,we swung slightly more northerly.

We tucked in just under the Tor for our morning coffee.

With the long uphill haul we had warmed up well from the cold start at Widicombe.

Leaving the Tor, we made our way down past Swallerton Gate Car park and by a very pretty thatched cottage of the same name, Swallerton.

I was quite taken with the thatched entrance porch.

We headed due north for slightly over half a mile until we reached a gate with a sign warning people not to climb Bowerman's nose which was a rock outcrop a few hundred yards on.

We turned left just before the gate and followed a bridle path of sorts which headed east.

After about half a mile we came across a lane with a grave to the side. Jay's grave marks the burial point of a young girl who being unmarried and with child, had committed suicide.

Flowers are still placed on the grave to this day.

We made our way down the path for just over a half mile from the grave to point on themap called Natsworthy Manor.

We briefly turned to the moor then turned right and made our way to over a stile. We walked down through Heathercombe woods heading for a hamlet of the same name where we stopped for lunch.

From the hamlet we headed up a very steep hill heading east. At the first corner we saw a granite plinth with the three fishes, put there by a Mr Pike. The steep path then turned right and we followed it up still in the woods.

At the edge of the plantation we swung east, still climbing as we headed up to the higher moor above. The strenuous climb just after lunch was very hard work but well worth the effort.

The views looking back down onto Heathercombe Brake were superb, particularly so on such a nice day.

On the moor we followed the well defined path for a mile until we reached one of the best known landmarks on the moor.

Grimspound covers about four acres. This very old pound must have been very busy in its day, many thousands of years ago.

The picture above is of the centre most structure, it must have been quite significant with its location in the pound but as yet I've no idea what it is or was.

We had another stiff climb ahead of us and we left through the old entrance to the pound.

This with its granite blocks is imposing even today.

We made our way out, climbing up very steeply now heading south along one of the best knowns paths for walkers on the moor, The Two Moors Way.

As we made our way up to Hemel Downs we had good views of the pound back and below us.

The photograph above shows the relative size of this pound.

Finally we reached a high point, there was a trig point there and a cairn.

Although there is no prominent outcrop of rocks here it is deemed a tor and is called Hemeldown Tor. We were a height of 529 metres and most of the rest of the walk would of necessity be downhill.

The area of Hemel Down itself is relatively flat and quite easy walking, we made quick progress.

Just under a half a mile later we were at Broad Barrow and a few hundred yards later now descending slowly we stopped by a dry stone wall for an afternoon break.

The land dropped away steeply and below us in the valley we could just see the village of Widicombe.

Perhaps Uncle Tom Cobley was down there somewhere waiting for us.

One thing was for sure it was our destination and quite a long way below us.

We followed the signs for the village and were descending gradually.That was to change to a steep descent very quickly.

We found ourselves making our way down a steep stony track, quite hard going. I assumed that the erosion must have been due to water rushing down during wet weather.

Finally we came upon a narrow lane which descended very steeply into the village of Widicombe in the Moor.

After this walk I can certainly see how it got its suffix 'In the Moor'. It really is! We had covered this ten mile walk at a fair pace and we were back at the car park before 3PM, having thoroughly enjoyed the day out on the moor.

Thank God that not too many Plymothians take up the option of walking on their doorstep.

Thanks to Eric for suggesting this walk at very short notice, it certainly is a good one. The 45 minute drive back to Plymouth was soon accomplished and we were back at the car share point contemplate the days walking.

I'd recommend this walk to anyone, providing they've got strong legs and lungs of course.