Margaret E’s Christow Circular – Sunday 9th December

A blustery and wet start for the intrepid eight today, but the promise of afternoon sunshine was all it took for the hardy bunch to set off, in good spirits, led by Margaret, on a most delightful and interesting ramble.

We left the car park, in the rain it has to be said and headed around  the 15th Century stone built Christow Church taking paths and lanes towards Court Barton. After the rainfall this week the ground underfoot was wet, as expected, but the going soft with a carpet of fallen leaves everywhere.

A sharp incline in the woods, a bit of a scramble even, on wet leaves uphill provided the first challenge,  so a tea break was welcome – although the wet and rotting logs did not appreciate the weight of ramblers this morning and some groaned and rolled under pressure – the logs not the ramblers that is.

Legs recovered from the climb, we set off again along lane and track to Middle Hole and shortly afterwards passed the Quaker Cemetery at Clampitt. Quakers of course must be buried in unmarked graves.

Tottiford Reservoir was soon before us, a lovely expanse of water, starting to sparkle today as the sun began to emerge and the skies cleared.  Tottiford was built in 1861 and is the oldest reservoir within the National Park. It was followed by Kennick Reservoir in 1884 and the third of this trio, Trenchford, in 1907. They were constructed to provide water for the growing resort of Torquay and today play a key part in the water-supply network for Torbay and Teignbridge. All three brimming over today, a very different scene from last July.

Our walk took us around the Reservoir and on to Trenchford, where we enjoyed lunch on benches – a luxury for any rambler –  but particularly welcome on this damp day.

After lunch and obligatory group picture, we set off alongside Tottiford again, a beautiful vista now with the waters lapping near our feet, circled by fir trees set against a blue sky with a double rainbow visible from time to time, a perfect panorama to be relished today.

Our homeward leg took us through Moor Barton, over Kiln Down and down to Benen.  One notable feature in Benen, apart from the ancient cottages and pretty stream running through, was spotted by an eagle-eye walker with a penchant for things Victorian (usually post boxes) – it was a Stench Pole, or Stink Pipe. They were an invention of the Victorian era, originally in London following the Great Stink of 1858 when the Thames dried to a trickle and, er, waste backed up in the sewers. They channeled the smell and fumes away before it could explode with disastrous consequences.  Improved sewer systems mean few remain outside London, but there are still some in rural parts of the Country, looking to all the world like very tall lamp posts – but hollow with no light! This one was less ornate than it’s London cousins but no doubt a listed item now from days long gone – fortunately perhaps in this case.

A short walk down the road to Christow and a neat diversion inserted by Margaret as the intended path involved crossing a flooded stream, took us back to the car park as the rain came again – good timing.

Teas, coffees, eats and a warm welcome from the locals were enjoyed in the seasonally festooned Artichoke Inn where a roaring fire set cheeks aglow too.

An excellent walk of almost 11 miles, well done and thank you Margaret.