We set off on a chilly morning from Step’s Bridge car park today, 15 in number, initially up (and up..!) through the woods to Burnicombe and then through Lowton Farm onto Heltor rocks where it’s row of ‘dragons teeth’ was interesting to see.
The rock, originally ‘Hel Tor’, is where legend tells us the Devil and King Arthur settled an argument by hurling giant quoits at each other which turned to stone wherever they landed. The Devil settled on Hel Tor and King Arthur on nearby Blackingstone Rock for the battle. Legend doesn’t actually record who won in the end, only that the ground in the area is scattered with giant stones. A tie perhaps.
Heltor sits at 300m and has at least 6 rock basins on the top, created by freezing, expanding water over time. The largest one is over 4m wide and 2m deep. The most interesting feature is the set of ‘teeth’, geologically known as an Aplite Microgranite Dyke, formed of quartz and feldspar and typical of later intrusion, after the original granite magna had cooled.
It is on private land but there is a permissible footpath. Not many ventured to see the basins today as it was chilly up there!
The climb was considerable and a welcome tea break enjoyed. The views eluded us somewhat today as the sun struggled unsuccessfully to burn off the early morning mist that had been present each day of the past week.
We took the bridle path down to Bridford and entered the sensory garden, donated by Tarka country trust for our team photo today.
From Bridford down to the Engine pump house and the Edward V11 post box – of course – then across the fields to South Down Farm, then down to Watermeet for lunch on the banks of the river Teign.
We walked across the old Teign Valley railway line and storage area, with some interesting items on view. The Teign Valley Line opened in 1882 and ran from Newton Abbot to Exeter at it’s peak. It served the quarries and mines in the area and also had a passenger service. It closed finally in 1961 as the A38 became the more efficient way to take people and goods to Exeter. Re-opening the line was discussed recently, following the rail disruption at Dawlish, which would be wonderful but somehow seems unlikely considering the cost involved in repair and refurbishment of the long disused stations and track.
We continued across fields and up to the Spanish barn Cross Roads taking a bridle path down to Lee Cross.
Continuing along a lane to a farm here, we took the bridle path above the River Teign to Sowton Mill, crossing the river again and up over fields, passing a vine yard, before re-entering the woods taking us back to Steps bridge.
Quite a tough walk of over 10 miles, but some wonderful scenes in parts of Devon all agreed we had not traversed before. Well done Mandy and her able band of recky-aides for getting this tricky route right on the day.
Tea and cakes were taken at the Walled Garden Tea Rooms in Dunsford before the weary band made their way home.