John’s Bank Holiday Bradley Manor Walk – Sunday 25th August

A scorching Bank Holiday Sunday in Devon this year and 6 gathered in Newton for John’s walk through some beautiful villages, past churches and through some unspoilt lanes and tracks. It felt as if the traffic chaos and temporary population explosion in The Bay, were a thousand miles away. We were joined by Bazza today, new to the TBRC and keen to see some of the little known parishes and areas of Devon, off the beaten track.

We set off past the Lodge House of Bradley Manor House on the Old Totnes Road. It was a 15th Century, medieval manor house set in the valley of the River Lemon, now owned by the National Trust. It is one of the most complete manor houses of it’s time, the architect,  having been influenced by Dartington Hall. It was owned by Richard and John Yarde from 1402 and contains a Chapel, consecrated in 1428, just 21ft long. The house contains a collection of pre-Raphellite arts and furniture.

The Bradley Leat flows past the house which used to provide water for the manorial mills, located where the Cattle Market is now in Newton. It was given to the NT in 1938 by Mrs. A Woolner, whose family still live there and manage it on their behalf.

We walked past the Manor toward Bradley Woods, a designated sight of special scientific interest as a fine example of limestone woodland. Following the Lemon as it wound its way through fields we soon found ourselves far from dog walkers and madding crowds and enjoyed a welcome drink at West Ogwell Church, another most interesting place. We were for once grateful of the cool air in the church as we explored.

It was built in the 13th Century and a Grade 1 listed building now. It was declared ‘redundant for worship’ in June 1981. The chancel and nave were built around 1300 and the west tower added in 1400. There is a Jacobean Pulpit and the box pews, tower screen and communion rails are Georgian. A real step back in time. It was also used for the horror film ‘The Borderlands’ in 2014.

Water reserves replete, we walked on past Gaia Retreat, a Buddhist silent meditation centre,  looking suitably quiet today in the haze, as the sun rose higher in the sky above.

Panoramic views now across to Dartmoor, Haytor easily visible, as we traversed fields and tracks, to enter the village of Denbury. Tempting though the array of preserves and flowers were, not to mention pickled eggs, we didn’t feel we could carry anything more in the heat so we passed them by and settled on lunch in the quiet churchyard, wondering where the residents of Denbury could be today?

Another fine church, open and welcoming for visitors, having been built in 1291 with full parish records dating back to 1557. The Millenium Tapestry was most interesting to see, depicting scenes from the history of the village.

Benches in the churchyard were very welcome for lunch break and we were touched by the Boy Scout Memorial to Thomas Butler, assistance Scoutmaster there, who died suddenly research reveals, at the age of 24 in 1932. (see gallery). On now past a less impressive Channings Wood Prison, incongruously modern, but equally quiet today.

On through East Ogwell, where John decided to cut the walk a little shorter than planned due to the heat, so we made our way through the churchyard and back to Bradley Woods, along the South Bank of the Lemon this time. The shade was welcome as was the the Tea Wagon in Bradley Park where we enjoyed drinks and a rest in the shade of their gazebo.

A lovely walk through pretty and charming Devon villages, on the hottest day of the summer. Thank you John.