Section 6 - Mary Tavy to Tavistock
Distance : 8.3 miles - but with options to extend the walking and climb some Tors on the way.
Grade Moderate grade walking climbing onto the Moor with one steep climb towards Cox Tor before an Easy Grade descent into Tavistock - what these grades mean.
Summary: Valley side sheep pastures before climbing onto the high moor at Cox Tor for Moorland walking with superb views. Descend on quiet lanes to Whitcombe Down and a steep drop into historic Tavistock.
Leaving Mary Tavy on the Dartmoor Way you continue your trek down the eastern edge of the moor this morning, above the infant River Tavy, before heading through meadow to reach the tranquil hamlet of Peter Tavy with its impressive 4 pinacled Church. A welcome pub is here - the last before Tavistock, so note that if you want to get an early lunch before pushing onto the moor.
You then start the real climb to the moor along the narrow Colly Brook in an enchanting hidden valley. Leaving the stream bed, climb higher through a boulder strewn landscape heading to Great Coombe Tor, all the time enjoying wide views to Brent Tor with its stark church on the rock behind you.
Ahead is the mighty Cox Tor, and most people will want to take the diversion to climb to the top at 1500ft to get views across the interior of the Dartmoor. As it is a short day today, if the weather is good, you can make the most of some Tor Bagging and climb the Staple Tors (Great, Middle and Little Staple Tors) and even visit the Stone Rows at Merrvale if you wish. Once back on the main trail passing the lovely grassy slopes of Whitchurch Common you can see Tavistock far below in the distance, and beyond it the little Sister to Dartmoor at Bodmin Moor rising from the lowlands again.
It’s now splendid walking, with the gradient in your favour, a mix of moor, track and back lane, passing plenty of grazing Dartmoor Ponies on a gorse lined moorland golf course. Whitchurch Down is the last green area before the final drop to the town - you will pause at the Pimple, a strange little wood and stone hut that sits in the centre of the route to Tavistock and Devon’s finest market town.
Arrive via the stone bridge over the river Tavy, the impressive Pannier Markets and the remains of the 12th Century Abbey - the original one having been destroyed by the Vikings – yes, they got this far South and West.
It’s a fascinating town with a good range of restaurants and bars and a welcome chance to explore a larger Market Town nestled below the moor in this gentle riverside location.