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Section 2 – Two Moors Way - Holne to Chagford

Distance - 17 miles Grade - Moderate Grade Walking, Strenuous on the high moor quickly becoming Severe if caught in Poor Weather - What these grades mean.


A complete change of scenery to start with today as you drop down to the delightful swift flowing river Dart, through a deep wooded valley clung to by rare sessile oak trees. This Devon Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve passes the impressive Horseshoe Falls, and wildlife here is prolific, with kingfishers, dippers, pied flycatcher and wood warbler in the sky and even the River Dart otter for the stealthy or lucky. 


You cross the churning waters at the ironically named Newbridge, a classic Dartmoor medieval parapet bridge which was constructed in 1413.


After a further stretch of more open river meadow and marsh, often carpeted with wildflowers, it’s back to the challenging stuff with sharp climbs on the Two Moors Way route over the twin rocky heights of Leigh Tor and Ash Tor, from where you reach the high level carriageway known as Dr Blackwalls Drive.


A perfect walking route, it was built by the Lord of the Manor in the 19th century as a dramatic and panoramic carriage drive to impress and amaze his guests with - the views over the Dart Gorge to the middle distant moor still demonstrate his projects success.   


From Mel Tor, a welcome descent into woodland serenity at the thin strip of riverside forest that lines the lovely West Webburn river.  Breeze through the timeless waterside hamlet of Pondsworthy, its picture postcard row of perfect thatched cottages, old mill and bakehouse delight along with the “Pondsworthy Splash,” the local ford over the Webburn.


The return to the moor beckons you out of this watery tranquillity though, if time allows or for those on shorter itineraries, a detour gives you the chance to explore the much-loved village of Widecombe on the Moor, dominated by its impressive church of St Pancras which is known as the 'Cathedral of the Moors,’ home to the grave of Sir Henry Baskerville of Sherlock Holmes fame.


Overnight stops in Widecombe on the Moor on the Two Moors Way.


The Two Moors way, meanwhile, climbs to the cairns and barrows of Hameldown Beacon. Look back on the way up for superb views over Widecombe to the famous Haytor Rocks and, on a clear day, beyond as far as the Jurrasic Coast in Dorset. Once on the moor proper, the ground flattens and the Two Moors Way snakes along a winding ridge walk over a succession of antiquities included the huge Broad Barrow site and Hamble Down Cross.

This is superb open moor once again and the highlight of the run of rocky Tors is ghostly Grimspound, one of the best preserved Bronze Age enclosures in the south west. A huge 4 acre site holding the remains of over 20 semi restored hut enclosures inside huge granite walls, the old paved entrance and megaliths are still visible. 


This eerie and most remote of settings was the location of the prehistoric hut in which Sherlock Holmes spent the night keeping away from the black “hell hound” in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Thankfully the deadly Grimpen Mire also based on this location in the book, whose “bogs are capable of swallowing a pony,” is not evident these days on the Two Moors Way route!


The old mine workings of Birch Tor and Vitifer line a sunken path through the old water courses to a wild moorland road where stands the medieval 13th century Bennett’s Cross, said to have been erected by Monks as part of a safe waymarked trail between Abbeys. Close by you should take a break at the Warren House Inn, the highest and loneliest pub in southern England at 1,425 feet, its very existence, in the most isolated and unlikely windswept position, a result of the long departed tin mining activities nearby. The claim is that the fire is never allowed to go out here and is said to have been burning continuously since 1845 - we suggest you divert to check this with the current landlord over a welcome pint.


Dropping off Dartmoor's heights you enter more gentle woodland and rough pasture and join the green lane route of the Ancient Mariners Way, the old path of seamen crossing the county from Bideford on the north coast to their ships on the South Hams at Dartmouth. Narrow, winding, tree lined back lanes bring you to the impressive River Teign and the pair of splendid granite arched bridges at Rushford and Chagford both dating back to the 17th century.


Overnight stops in Chagford on the Two Moors Way.

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