Walk: Rough Tor
Length: Choice of a 5-mile walk or a 10-mile walk
Start point: Car park at Two Bridges. (SX 609 750)
Basic route: (Blue route: 10-mile route) From Two Bridges - north along the track past Crockern Cottage (SX 609 756) and up to Wistmans Wood (SX 612 770). Then northeast over Longaford (SX 615 778) Tor to Higher White Tor (SX 619 785). Continuing northwest to Brown’s House (SX 614 798) and westerly to Rough Tor (SX 606 798) and Devils Tor (SX 596 796) into Conies Down Water (SX 591 793), before heading back easterly to Lydford Tor (SX 599 781) and down to the Devonport Leat (SX 608 779). Follow the Devonport leat back to Beardown Farm (SX 604 754) and Two Bridges.
(Red route: 5-mile deviation) After leaving Wistmans Wood simply follow the West Dart valley upstream to the leat take-off weir (SX 608 779) and cross over onto the east side and follow the 10-mile route down the Devonport Leat.
Some rough tracks as well as open moorland to cross. In poor visibility, especially on the section of this walk after Wistmans Wood, a map and compass are essential. There are also a number of streams and bogs to cross on the 10-mile route. It is important to note that this walk enters the Merrivale Military Firing Range – it is essential to check the firing times and not to undertake this walk when live firing is taking place on the Merrivale Firing Range. Firing information can be obtained from:-
www.dartmoor-ranges.co.uk or telephone 0800 4584868 It is also broadcast every morning on BBC Radio Devon.
Equally the 10-mile route crosses some of the most difficult terrain that Dartmoor has to offer. The ground is invariably very wet at most times of the year so expect wet feet!
On the 5-mile route a crossing of the weir is necessary so it is best to avoid a time when the right is high, alternatively just downstream of the weir there are a number of places to cross the West Dart on the boulders.
Map: Dartmoor OS OL 28 North Sheet
This walk was kindly provided by Moorland Guides
Leave your car at the parking area (SX 609 750) on the opposite side of the road from the Two Bridges Hotel in the old quarry car park. From your car walk north and through the five bar gate along the rough vehicle track to Crockern Cottage (SX 609 756). Pass the cottage on your left using the well-worn footpath that leads all the way to Wistman’s Wood (SX 612 770) through the fields. On the way you will pass by a few well-preserved rabbit burrows (SX 611 758), also known as ‘Pillow Mounds’ a .
These were man-made rabbit warrens where the Warrener used to keep rabbits commercially for their meat. There was a warren house at the far end of Wistman’s Wood in the last century. The footpath is easily followed as it makes its way to the ancient oak wood of Wistman’s Wood. One interesting feature here is a large triangular rock known as the 'Buller Stone' b (SX 612 774) upon which is carved the following: "By permission of H. R. H. the Prince of Wales, Wentworth Buller, on September 16th 1866, cut down a tree near this spot; it measured nine inches in diameter, and appeared to be about one hundred and sixty-eight years old". It is located just off the track and in the edge of the wood as you follow the path around the top of the wood.
Once you have passed the wood the grassy platform of the warren house can be located to the north of the wood (SX 612 775).
It is here where the 5-mile route and 10-mile routes deviate. The 5-mile route simply follows the West Dart River upstream to the weir (SX 608 779) where you can cross onto the west bank. Once on the west bank simply follow the 10-mile route as it returns down the Devonport Leat, mentioned later. If the crossing at the weir looks a little too ambitious for you then walk downstream about 50 metres to an alternative crossing point by some large boulders.
The 10-mile route, however, now climbs to Longaford Tor (SX 615 778) to enjoy some far-reaching views over to the south and west. You can also see over and into the valley of the East Dart River north of Postbridge.
From here out route follows a fairly well defined path through the long grass to Higher White Tor (SX 619 785). There is a rather indistinct stone row (SX 619 783) to be found on the way to Higher White Tor just to the right of the path (if the grass is not too long).
Once at Higher White Tor (SX 619 785) the views open up to the east far away to Hameldown and southeast towards Hay Tor.
From this tor we head north over the stile to the smaller Lower White Tor (SX 619 792) almost due north of us.
Looking northwest you will see the low ruins of Brown’s House (SX 614 798) on the other side of a boggy section of lower ground. Between Lower White Tor and Brown’s House is a distinct ruin of a tinner’s building (SX 615 797). If you visit this ruin on the way to Brown’s House you will be following about the best route for keeping your feet dry!
At Brown’s House c you will find a few low walls but not much of a ruinous building. Legend has it that the farm was constructed by a jealous Mr Brown who hid his beautiful wife there, away from the gaze of other admiring men!
Continue northeast into the valley of the West Dart, which you can cross where the ruined wall passes over the stream (SX 610 800). Follow the wall ruins uphill westerly and up to Rough Tor (SX 606 798).
From Rough Tor (the highest point of the walk) there are good views to the north towards Cut Hill and the desolate areas of the north moor. From here our route goes across quite a wet area to Devil’s Tor (SX 596 796), which is a very small, remote and indistinct outcrop on the horizon. There are a few paths leading across this rather bleak area and it’s best to follow one of these. Once you reach the low lying and small Devil’s Tor you will find the large and isolated standing stone - ‘Beardown Man’ d (SX 596 796) - on the western flank of Devil’s Tor. The view here to the west opens up as well as good views down the Cowsick River towards Princetown and North Hessary Mast (a good navigational aid) as well as Fur Tor to the north on a clear day.
Conies Down Tor (SX 589 791) lies to our southwest on the other side of the Cowsick and it is best to simply head straight for it and down into the valley. There is a good ford (SX 591 793) on the direct line but if you try to contour around the valley it gets very boggy.
Skirt around the hillside and past Conies Down Tor to the west. There is another very difficult-to-locate stone row (SX 585 790) with just a few small and low stones to indicate its presence here. The route crosses the little stream known as Conies Down Water and contours up a track from a ford (SX 587 786), uphill to two triangular rocks on the hillside. In the higher of the rocks (SX 590 785) there is a small cleft where there is hidden a small bronze memorial cross, Traveller’s Ford Cross, inside the rock surrounded by quarts crystals, almost forming a small grotto e .
From the bronze cross rock the route drops down to the distinct ford at Broad Hole (SX 591 786), also known as Traveller’s Ford on the Lych Way, also knows as ‘The Way of the Dead’ – used for carrying bodies for burial at Lydford Church in mediaeval times. We cross the Cowsick here again and follow the distinct track easterly uphill to Lydford Tor (SX599 781) through the gateway.
As the route passes by Lydford Tor start looking to the right of the path. As you crest the hill and start to drop downhill look out for a well-hidden Cist (SX 603 780) f on the right of the track in the long grass. It is really difficult to find but is it a good example and worth hunting for!
The path now goes downhill and drops into the West Dart valley to the take off weir for the Devonport Leat (SX 608 779). Our return journey follows the leat path downstream for about two kilometres all the way into the woods at Beardown plantation (SX 608 759). Walk along the leat and through the woods until the leat reaches the vehicle track (SX 604 756) coming up from Beardown Farm down to our left. We turn left on the track and down towards the farm and turn right through a gate (SX 604 755) just before you reach the farm buildings. The road takes you right and around the edge of the farm enclosures and right again downhill. As you reach the bottom of the hill there is a gate on the right (SX 602 753). If you go through the gate you will find a well-preserved clapper bridge (SX 602 753), crossing the Cowsick River and this is well worth a small diversion to go and see. This bridge is one of the two bridges that gave its name to the nearby community of Two Bridges. The other clapper bridge over the West Dart near Crockern Cottage has long since been swept away or demolished.
Our route now returns back through the gate to the main vehicle track and down to the road bridge (SX 603 753) over the Cowsick River. Once over the bridge drop down left onto the footpath (SX 603 752) marked by a finger post. Just by the bridge there are a few boulders, which have been inscribed with the names of poets, one is the big flat stone just below the road level. We now follow the marked footpath into the enclosure of the woods over the stile (SX 606 750). The path takes us through the woods and through the field into a narrow laneway over a further stile. This lane leads us out onto the main road by Two Bridges (SX 607 749), where we turn left to return to our car at the quarry car park (SX 609 750).