Image - Own Herby talk thyme, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Section 1 – Two Moors Way - Ivybridge to Holne
Distance - 13.5 miles Grade - Strenuous Grade walking in normal conditions - this would become severe if attempted in poor weather - What these grades mean.
Ivybridge, on the southern slopes of Dartmoor National Park, is the official start of the Two Moors Way. For information on extending the walk by a day to the full Devon Coast to Coast Walk see the itinerary option "Coast to Coast".
Your climb this morning above Ivybridge Town thrusts you immediately onto the desolate and wild southern face of Dartmoor, ascending the old cattle grazers drove road passing below the first of many rocky Tors at Western Beacon. Here you join the high level moorland route of the stunning Redlake Tramway 700ft above the town, an industrial masterpiece constructed in 1910 to reach the Redlake China Clay works far into the interior.
Littered with hut circles, standing stones, twisted rock formations and ancient cairns, you encounter Dartmoor National Parks mining country where the relics and remains of China clay production and hardy tin miners’ lives loom out of the bracken and heather en-route.
This is open access land so walkers can either stay within the navigational security of the Tramway or strike out wild and free, walking over the cairns and Tors of Butterdon and Three Barrows, following your nose and the skyline if you prefer.
Either way the views right along this ridge are superb, stretching back over the glistening Erme Valley to the South Hams coastline in South Devon and then far beyond to the jagged Roseland Peninsular in Cornwall. Break to admire the eerie, twisted and contorted rock stack formation at Iconic Hangershell Rocks - a series of flat Tor slabs balanced precariously in this splendid isolation.
The Two Moors Way route here guides you through thousands of years of man’s activities, as it reveals old hut circles and enclosures and the ancient Hobajohns Cross. You walk is flanked at points with the longest boundary stone row on the moor, over 550 standing stones stretching out over 2 miles including the medieval Spurrells cross. Over an expanse of brown heather, you reach the azure blue waters of old flooded clay mining pits and older abandoned tin workings emerging from the heather from a long-lost time when this area was Europe’s premier source of the precious metal. You link briefly with the Abbots Way, an ancient trail used by monks and hardy packhorses that connected Buckfast Abbey and Tavistock Abbey now only the preserve of wild ponies and red deer, grazing peacefully below the buzzards and ravens.
Heading east off the central moor you will encounter the 19th century Pillow Mounds of Huntington Warren, a former rabbit farm and a well-guarded source of fur and food for the long gone miners, any modern offspring now no doubt supporting the moors many foxes! An iconic Dartmoor stone clapper bridges appears out of nowhere to take you over the gurgling Avon stream, past the spooky Huntington Cross Boundary Marker which has stood here in ghostly solitude for over 500 years. A day to remember ends by descending to the wooden footbridge at Chalk Ford before reaching habitation at last at the Villages of Scorriton and Holne along a vivid flower lined green bridleway.