Marching through March for the Children’s Hospice South West
Liz Guppy’s Challenge Week 4
Here is week four of my challenge. These are the last days of my challenge of walking 100 miles in March.
I’m so grateful for all the support I have received. all to the benefit of the Children’s Hospice South West.
This page provides my daily diary and gallery for week four. Some fantastic views in our parish and beyond, all in walking distance.
A local friend popped over who hadn’t done the “old settlement route” before so she asked if I would show it to her. I have put lots of pictures of this well documented round on previous days so was looking out for anything new to snap. The first was this old and enormous tree stump along the green lane towards the old Sowden’s Burridge Farm (now gone to ground). I remember when the tree was standing in all it’s magnificence then it came down in a storm and totally blocked the route for a good long while meaning that we went round the back of the roots via the field. The undergrowth grew up and it became dense, hiding animal runs through and round it. Then it was cleared and now the stump remains along with the remainder of the trunk on the opposite hedge. The stump is an amazing host for all sorts of fungi. Some very large, one of which exploded on me once, covering me with orange powder. (I confess I did poke it with the end of my stick). I lived to tell the tale. All around the base of the stump this year’s juicy new nettles are appearing. Just the right size for nettle soup if you fancy that. (it tastes like spinach). At the bottom of the settlement on the north slope going down to Cheldon Bridge is a new conifer plantation. The old crop was felled a few years ago now and the new crop of babies are looking well established. We spotted the first stitch wort on the bank around the settlement. They join up in April with the blue bells making blue and white hedgerows to take over from the previous yellows of March. More tree sculptures which reminded me of a torso with arms bent at the elbows and flexing muscles. The settlement is a hide and seek heaven for children playing outdoors. What I hadn’t mentioned in earlier posts was that this route is part of the aptly named Ridge and Valley walk which links The Tarka Trail and The Two Moors Way with a 12 mile route along the Little Dart Valley. So back across Burridge Moor with some elemental skyscapes and views North and South to both Moors. A walk I never tire of doing. 4.3 miles.
Today I thought I would pop the map of the two home villages in. It is sometimes good to look at the OS map to see the position of the paths even though it will be very familiar to a lot of the readers. Some people may remember the textile map of this very area which a couple of us made with the school children in 2015 to mark the opening of the newly refurbished Parish Hall. Today my walking friend was a member of the Tiverton CHSW support group of which I was once a member. She had never been to The Worlingtons before so as with my other friend last week she wanted to see all the nooks and crannies! Again, we took two cars to Edgelake bridge headed East all round the woods incorporating Pedley field too and out to Drayford back through the Worly villages and up to Woodpark Cross. There we headed a little way along to Affeton but retraced our steps back via the church yards where we lingered to chat to various local friends and take pictures of features in the graveyard. I snapped close up pictures of the old coffin rest in the Lytch gate, our little village school and a posing cow who was part of the herd now in the meadows by the river. There are lots more pictures of this walk in other posts so didn’t want to bore you with more today. I think Sally enjoyed her guided tour and was keen to attend an event in the hall when there is one to attend! 4.4 miles round trip.
A fabulous sunny day to do the penultimate walk of my challenge and I couldn’t let it go by without incorporating one of my favourite wild and atmospheric places. (although I think it is commonly walked by local people it still feels like you are in a time warp.). A walk that takes you through Lower Adworthy Barns. We parked up in Drayford and planned to do a loop around the little Adworthy Brook which flows down to the Little Dart through a culvert under the road at Drayford. Following the lane from the village we walked the long hill North up to Thornham Chapel with the brook on our right. Signs of Spring romping along as we passed trees with buds about to burst and on one of the old trunks were carved initials maybe of local lovers in the Spring sunshine! As you come to the top of the hill you can see Witheridge with it’s very prominent church tower over to the North West and the once active Methodist chapel ahead at the crossroads. We continued along to the Old Smithy where a footpath goes across some meadows heading West and joins with the lane from the village which heads North to Mouseberry Cross. We only did a short stretch of the path as it was one we hadn’t walked before and it was a bit unclear which route we should follow. So we retraced our steps back along the path which skirted the edge of the field where the prehistoric long stone almost still stands! Heading back to join the green lane which runs North past The Adworthys it felt as though we were on top of the world with views in all directions. So down the green lane, again lined by daffodils and primroses, it feels like you are entering a time warp. Old gateways far too small for the big modern machinery and wonderful overgrown hedgebanks with the grown trees forming an arch over the top. (reminiscences of childhood days growing up in the South Hams of Devon in the 1950s). Then as you round a corner, ahead of you is an ancient and unused farmyard with traditional red cob barns and Linhays which would once have been thatched. The path leads through the middle of the buildings with an old roundhouse threshing barn on the right. As I walked into the yard a large barn owl flew out of one barn and right over the top of my head down through the yard and into the cover of trees along the Adworthy brook below. I have had such sightings a number of times there and would love to have lingered and been still in order to watch it’s return. The old meadow fields around are perfect hunting ground for the owls and long may they remain. In the old cob walls are holes and as the sun was shining there were large bumble bees buzzing in and out of them, too quick for an amateur photographer like me. A wonderful and atmospheric place and it is so easy to imagine it as it once might have been with traditional farming methods going on. I think I am right in saying that the original farmhouse was destroyed in a fire but if anyone wants to correct me I would be pleased to know. So, you follow through what would once have been an old gateway with one gnarled post still standing and make your way through into a meadow heading to a bridge over the Adworthy Brook. We followed over with Molly taking a dip and up the hill on the other side to join the lane leading South West back to Drayford. We headed along the top and down down down to Drayford again and the car. Stunning day, views and historic landscape. A perfect walk for me. 4.5 miles
The final day of my challenge and it has been quite an experience in many ways. The sun was shining and I knew I had to make no mistakes on the final lap. Paul was waiting until I had finished to sponsor me! no pressure!!!!!!! We have done the footpath part of today’s walk only once before and once again you see the familiar parts of the local landscape from just another perspective. It takes you to the top of the world and down into the river valley with fabulous panoramic views. We set off from Drayford once again and once over the bridge of the Little Dart we turned left and headed North East along the river valley towards Witheridge. Spring blossom were all out in the gardens along the route. Before we passed the Quarry entrance I spotted the resident peregrine. I always have to look carefully because I don’t trust my bird of prey identification skills very well but Paul confirmed my spotting and he is usually right about such things. That’s twice in a couple of weeks. A real treat.
The sheep sign on the side of the road made me smile. This is such wonderful sheep country but great to be reminded that they share the lane too as they move from pasture to pasture as they have done for centuries past. Then along the familiar but different river valley, there was an apple on a gatepost. What was the story here I wonder. One for a writing exercise for children in the village school with the who, what, where, when and why prompts. Rabbit burrows line the roadside along here and over the hedge there are views over to West Yeo as the lane heads more East away from the river. As you go past Coombe house there are glimpses of the fabulous garden with orange barked shrubs and hyacinths and daffodils beds. The footpath which used to go off right here through a crew yard has been diverted and now takes you on up the road right to the edge of Witheridge past the cockerel sign on the way. Strands of sheep’s fleece caught on the wire dancing in the strong breeze were like a miniature washing line along the fence there. You bear right and follow a ring road style path through a new plantation south of the village until you come to the signs for the Two Moors Way and the Ridge and Valley Walk. The latter takes you back towards the River Dart but one of the signposts was a bit confusing with subtle directional pointers that needed thinking about. Golden willows mark the edge of the village and the start of the meadows. You can, from the top meadow, see back down to East Worlington. (nowhere is very far away although you can feel a sense of remoteness). Over a couple of high meadows with more stunning views you reach the lake of Coombe House lined with more willows of different kinds. You look sideways at the farm yard where the footpath was once routed. We found the OS map vital here to find the line of the path, although it is clearly marked with the yellow arrows between the meadows. The landmark wind farm at Batsworthy is clearly visible to the East and back towards Witheridge once again the church tower is prominent. Then all of a sudden at the top of the hill the high tors of Dartmoor are visible to the south. Over the next brow you skirt around Thelbridge Hall which was shrouded with smoke from a bonfire as we passed. All the paths are really well marked and take you easily along to join the lane between Thelbridge and Drayford. It is all the Ridge and Valley path which then goes on back down to Drayford and on to the West along the valley. Surprisingly, on reaching the car, I found I had another quarter of a mile to go to make my 4 miles so I walked from Drayford round the road to the village Hall in East Worlington. As I reached the cross roads two local ladies were chatting on the corner and as I approached they clapped. We did a little photo shot and felt very much supported on the final stretch back to the car. Thanks Becky and Marion! A wonderful walk indeed and in total 4.1 miles.