It rained heavily in the night, but eased by first light. It was still raining intermittently until about 7 o’clock, when it suddenly cleared. We felt very fortunate that the only real rain we encountered had been overnight. As I ate breakfast, the clouds began to break and blue sky appeared.
Beehive hut (invisible) on the East Dart
As we had walked further the previous day than planned, there was no hurry to set off. We packed and left by 9:30am, by which time we were in glorious sunshine with a fresh, cooling breeze. We climbed the slope of White Ridge towards Fernworthy Forest. At times, it was a bit tussocky and damp underfoot, but not too bad.
East Dart River from White Ridge
After encountering yet another herd of cattle, we followed the track that runs parallel with the Fernworthy Forest boundary. The Grey Wethers stone circle was visible in the distance under Sittaford Tor.
South Teign Head
Our path took us into the hollow that defines the source of the South Teign River. This is a lovely little dell where I had camped earlier in the year. It was no less delightful second time around. After a short, sharp pull up the other side of the valley, Teignhead Farm and Manga Hill came into view.
At the clapper bridge we took a few photos, before heading up to the farm for a snack and a drink. It’s a lovely place but tinged with an air of sadness. It must have been a tough life here and it’s sad to see the tumbledown walls of the fields and the farm. Unusually, there were no cattle or ponies in evidence.
View from Manga Hill looking east
As we finished our snacks, it became more cloudy hinting at rain. We climbed the slope north of the farm, picking up a track that followed and old wall and ditch. A bit further on we encountered the dry stone wall that runs on eastern flank of Whitehorse Hill, crossing a stile and following the path to Wattern Tor
Nearly every tor is different in character. Wattern Tor is notable for the way the granite has been weathered in thin horizontal lines, looking rather like a pack of cheese slices. After a bit of photography, we descended to Walla Brook. Before crossing the brook we sat down for a bite of lunch.
A couple of walkers followed us down and were confounded by the prospect of crossing the brook (which looked quite easy to us). Good Samaritan Andy leapt into action with the offer of one of his trekking poles. The effect was somewhat spoilt by the fact that Andy crossed the stream twice without the aid of the pole to aid the lady 😉
After lunch, it was onwards and upwards to Wild Tor. Actually, we skirted Wild Tor rather than going to the very top. From there, it was an easy walk to Hound Top and Little Hound Tor. While neither was especially memorable as tors, they did provide extensive views.
Stone Circle at Little Hound Tor
At Little Hound Tor we took a short detour to visit the stone circle. We then resumed our climb to Cosdon Hill, which seemed to go on for ever. However, encouragingly, the weather began to brighten. At the top of Cosdon Hill we met a couple who had come up from South Zeal, who were in the area visiting a folk festival.
View from Cosdon Hill looking west
After a short rest on Cosdon Hill, we headed west to Taw Marsh. We followed an intermittent path down. From a distance, I could see a number of people at the ford and was concerned that a group might be camping there. When we arrived, it was just a group of youngsters sunbathing and playing in the river. There was plenty of flat ground on the eastern side of the ford, so we pitched there.
Camping at Taw Marsh
Andy fired up his DAB radio and told me that England weren’t doing very well in the cricket. While he lazed around in camp, I decided to explore a little way up the track heading south. I was surprised at how many places there were to potentially pitch a tent. Next time I visit, I might use one of these more discreet spots rather than by the ford. I reached as far as Small Brook, which looked cleaner for water than the Taw so I retraced my steps to get some water containers. At dusk, the wind dropped and, not surprisingly a few insects came out, so we retired to out tents.
Morning at Taw Marsh
After a calm night, the morning dawned with mainly blue sky. After breakfast, Andy informed me that his tent had become a moth hotel during the night. Clearly his affinity for insects extends beyond midges and horse flies 🙂
The Taw near Belstone
After breakfast we packed and followed the track to Belstone passing a horse rider and a dog walker along the way. At Belstone, Andy located the pub, but it wasn’t open. From Belstone we took the track over Watchet Hill to the steep sided valley of the East Okement River. After crossing the bridge, the path down the East Okement follows a delightful wooded gorge.
East Okement River
Andy said that it reminded him of the “Blue Door” walk along the Esk in Scotland. It really is a lovely walk. On our walk into Okehampton, we stayed on the path on the southern side of the river, which runs parallel with the railway. We decided to investigate the station and were pleased to find that the station buffet was open.
Unfortunately, trains only run on Sunday, but it seems to be a bit of a tourist attraction on other days. Andy ordered tea and scones, while I decided something more substantial was required and had ham, egg and chips. While we were eating our repast, Andy leapt up from the table cursing. A wasp had crawled up his shorts. In the act of removing said wasp, it stung him twice on his fingers. I promise I didn’t laugh 😉 I’m not sure what Andy’s attraction is to insects, but he’s a good man to have along as the insects all seem to bother him rather than me.
Andy’s new vehicular transport
On the way to the bus stop, Andy was telling me about his trials and tribulations with cars, when I spotted a suitable replacement. After a somewhat circuitous bus ride, we reached Exeter St David’s. After a bit of a wait, we were on the train and on our way home. All in all, we had a great time and were blessed with good weather and stunning countryside.