A brighter day promised, following the storms and high winds that had battered Devon this week, for the 16 who convened at Parke today.
Parke is an historic estate.The present mansion house known as Parke House, a grade II listed building dating back to the 17th century but completely rebuilt in 1826/8 by William Hole. It was occupied by his descendants until the last William Hole died in 1974 when it was bequeathed to the National Trust, who today lease it to the Dartmoor National Park Authority and it remains their Headquarters.
We set off along the Rover Bovey through the lovely valley, popular with dog walkers. Our route took us on the Lustleigh Road but we turned west to cross Drakeford Bridge, with it’s inscription reminding all that it was ‘repared in 1654 by County’ – and many more times after that judging by the recent cementing. Rather narrow and impossible for large vehicles to clear perhaps taking a wrong turn.
From here we walked through Pullabrook woods and up Trendlebeare Down. It was a steady incline for sure but the views were stunning, as we paused for breath. Eventually, passing one cairn we found the second and were at Black Hill, 410m above sea level with Haytor clearly visible in the west.
Lunch was enjoyed here, everyone warm after the climb, basking in the midday sunshine. We knew showers were forecast, but 4pm the weathermen said – safe for now to be in short sleeves!
After the climb, the return was naturally down hill back to the Bovey Valley. We picked up the Templer Way but not before an adder was spotted squirming its way from the walking boots to safety.
The Templer is a well known track from Haytor to Stover Canal, where horse drawn carts, loaded with granite were once taken from the quarries, to be loaded on to ships at Teignmouth, bound for London.
A lovely walk through Yarner Wood, to Drakeford Bridge again, which would have ended in the Orchard but this access has been denied for a few years now. Carole, ably assisted by Barry The Snip, cleared a little used and quite enclosed path down to the road, eventually picking up the old rail track above the River Bovey at Parke.
We turned off the track to follow the River again, just in time as the sky grew dark. We didn’t quite escape the rain before we arrived at Parke Farm Cafe where they were most welcoming and found seats for us. An extended stay perhaps as at one point the thunder clap made us jump and the heavens opened.
A lovely 11 mile walk through some of Devon’s most beautiful countryside and moorland, very ably led by Carole.