Gail’s Devon Village Ramble – Sunday 22nd September

The effects of Storm Dorian threatened Devon today so Gail made the wise decision to avoid high Dartmoor and take the stalwart seven on a ramble closer to home.

We met as normal and made our way to Dobbin Arch, to walk back to the Church and out through the old part of Kingskerswell (formerly Kings Carswell) then on to Kingskerswell Down.

The village grew up where an ancient track took the narrowest point across a marshy valley and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It has a church, St. Mary’s, dating back to the 14th century and the ruins of a manor house of similar date. Gail has lived here for over 20 years and, thankfully for us, knows the area well.

There are several prehistoric sites on the high ground surrounding Kingskerswell, such as the Iron Age sites of Milber Down, Berry’s Wood and Dainton. Kerswell Down, is the site of a late Bronze Age/early Iron Age field system and a hoard of small Roman coins were discovered here in 1840.

A soaking ensued while we crossed Wilborough Common, looking out towards Stoneycombe Quarry so we had to take tea in the shelter of some trees, before embarking on the climb to Miltor Maytor Common, renowned for it’s butterflies but they weren’t braving the rain today.

The temperature began to rise and there it was, the warm early autumn sun, appearing to steam dry our outer wear in time for us to walk through Dainton in shortsleeves.

Dainton was quiet, known for the Golf Course largely but boasts an ancient history with some beautiful old cottages, as well as burgeoning blackberries today.

Next we walked to Ipplepen, once the second largest parish in the area, next to Totnes. Today it has become well-known for the archaeological excavations which revealed Roman coins, a portion of a Roman road, a Roman abbatoir, and various broken ceramics of Mediterranean and Gallic origin, which once contained wine, olive oil and garum (fish sauce).

In February 2015, during the building of the long awaited South Devon Highway,  it was announced that 15 skeletons, had been unearthed during an archaeological dig at Ipplepen, a discovery of national importance. One of the skeletons tested showed that the settlement was in use up to 350 years after the Roman period had ended in about 410. Certainly, this has put Ipplepen ‘on the map’.

Lunch was enjoyed in the sun at St. Andrew’s Church and Ken advised us that the grave of Bertram Fletcher Robinson was to be found there, author, campaigner and perhaps best known for his collaborations with friends Arthur Conan Doyle and P. G. Wodehouse. His union with Arthur Conan Doyle reportedly led to the novel ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, a name Ken advised us that was inspired by a chauffeur that took them on a tour of the area. Not a lot of people know that… as someone once said.

We retraced our steps after lunch, taking the road to the Bickley Mill and then uphill via Mill Lane to North Wilborough, before the downhill trek back to Kingskerwell.

We enjoyed drinks at The Sloop to finish off the day, a great 10 mile walk through some interesting Devon villages which made us feel that the South Devon Highway, 70 years in the planning and 3 years in the building,  was many miles away today.

Well done Gail in providing an impromptu and interesting walk of around 10 miles.