Note: The O/S map shows the definitive route.
• Start SX814 782 Bovey Bridge, Bovey Tracey
• Finish SX752 858 Pound Street, Moretonhampstead
• Distance 16.5km/10.25 miles
• Ascent 507m/1663ft
• Descent 342m/1122ft
• Refreshments Bovey Tracey, Lustleigh (off route), Hennock (off route), Moretonhampstead
• Public toilets Bovey Tracey, Moretonhampstead
• Tourist information Bovey Tracey, Moretonhampstead
NOTE At present there are no Dartmoor Way signs from the entrance to Mill Marsh Park to the A382, follow Wray Valley trail signs; lanes around reservoirs narrow, poorly surfaced and gravelly
Turn left and follow the surfaced cycle path through Mill Marsh Park alongside the River Bovey. On reaching the A382 dismount and walk along the path as it ducks under the road. Turn right (picking up Dartmoor Way signs once more) and continue along the former Wray Valley railway line through the Parke estate for almost 2km/1.25 miles, almost immediately crossing the River Bovey again.
Side-trip to Home Farm Cafe.
At the end of the first cutting follow signs left across Parke Bridge; follow the track uphill to find the cafe behind the main house.
This section of the Wray Valley Trail, opened in 2013, follows the trackbed of the former GWR Newton Abbot-Moretonhampstead branchline, which was completed in 1866. In the 1890s trippers were taken from Bovey station up to the moor in horse-drawn vehicles, soon to be replaced by motorised charabancs. The Parke estate is owned by the National Trust, and home to both the Dartmoor National Park headquarters and the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust.
At the end of the Parke estate the route, the Wray Valley Trail and NCN 28
continue ahead over a new bridge. If opting for the Reservoir Challenge Alternative (marked), just before the bridge bear right down a path to pass through a gate and reach a three-way lane junction near Wilford Bridge.
If following the main route, keep ahead over the bridge. The route descends gently to meet the lane, then turns right. At the next lane junction keep straight on, heading towards Lustleigh.
Side-trip to Lustleigh.
After approximately 1.4km/0.88 miles, on reaching the Lustleigh sign, turn left on a narrow lane between thatched houses (Wreyland). At the T-junction turn right and follow the lane alongside the cricket pitch and under the old railway bridge to emerge in the village centre opposite St John`s Church and near The Cleave PH.
Lustleigh is the quintessential picture-postcard village, with rose-covered cob-and-thatch cottages
clustered around the 15th-century church, a good pub, a thatched tearoom and a village shop. The suggested route passes through Wreyland, often featured on `Beautiful Britain` calendars. Tourists have been drawn to the village for years, their numbers boosted by the arrival of the railway. By 1900 a Temperance Hotel had opened opposite the Cleave Hotel to accommodate visitors of differing tastes!
To re-join the route, either go back through Wreyland, or follow the road out of the village, passing to the left of the church. A left turn is passed and the road carries on, bearing right to cross the old railway line. The Wray Valley Trail (and the onward route) is found on the left after 200 metres.
The route follows the road past houses at Knowle to meet a 4-way junction. Follow Dartmoor Way and Wray Valley Trail signs to the left; just before the road crosses the old railway line turn right to re-join the trail. The old railway line is now followed up to Moretonhampstead, interspersed with sections of newly created cycle track.
At the end of the cycle path turn right up Brinning Lane to meet a T-junction on Pound Street. For Moretonhampstead turn right, then return to the T-junction.
The ancient market town of Moretonhampstead is known as the `gateway to the High Moor`, and it a bustling little place on the main east-west trans-moor route. Its market charter was granted by King John in AD1207, at a rent of one sparrowhawk per year; the bird has become a symbol for the town. In recent years the town has seen the development of Greenhill, a gallery and heritage centre in the Victorian school by St Andrew`s Church, and the Dartmoor Transport Museum on Court Street.
THE RESERVOIR CHALLENGE ALTERNATIVE
This challenging alternative passes close to the Torquay Reservoirs - Trenchford, Tottiford and Kennick - and was the route taken by the Dartmoor Way before the completion of the Wray Valley Trail. While this option is 5.48km/3.43 miles longer, with more ascent and descent, the rider is rewarded with outstanding views from a run of quiet lanes.
From the lane junction keep straight on, soon ascending to a T-junction. Turn left; after a long and steady ascent the lane bears sharp right at Hatherleigh Farm, then undulates before dropping steadily to meet the A382 at Slade Cross.
Cross the road (take care) then continue up a very steep lane (walking advised), eventually levelling to reach Poolmill Cross after 1.6km/1 mile. For Hennock turn right; return the same way.
Side-trip to Hennock
The little village of Hennock has an enviable position on the western rim of the Teign Valley, with superb views to the east towards the Haldon Hills and beyond. The settlement is thought to date from pre-Domesday times. Tin and iron ore were mined locally in the 19th century. Teign Village - two terraces of cottages flanking the lane - in the valley below was constructed from 1910 to house workers for the Teign Valley Granite Company.
Turn left; after 300m turn right at Bullaton Cross (by the car park/picnic area for Trenchford Reservoir). The lane crosses the dam; follow the lane on to cross the next dam (for Tottiford Reservoir; picnic area right). At the T-junction, Mardon Cross, (with Kennick Reservoir right - and worth a look) turn left.
Cycling between the three reservoirs is particularly lovely in spring, when the earth dam at Kennick is carpeted with bluebells and the waterside rhododendrons are in full flower. Constructed between the mid-1850s (Tottiford completed 1861) and the early 20th century (Trenchford 1907) to supply the increasing population of Torbay, today the reservoirs provide lovely walking opportunities, with flyfishing at Kennick. There are several picnic tables along the banks.
The narrow lane continues, ascending gently, and passes a radio mast; eventually it levels, with [new image]
occasional glimpses of the open moor ahead left. Blackingstone Rock looms into view on the right.
Dartmoor`s granite tors never fail to impress, and none more so than Blackingstone Rock, an outlying tor which rises 25m/80 feet above the ground on its highest side. In Victorian times a vertical iron ladder was built against its east face to enable access to its sloping top, from which there are stunning views (no protection: take great care).
At the T-junction turn left, soon descending past cottages then heading on to Cossick Cross and the junction with the B3212 Moretonhampstead to Exeter road. Cross straight over with care and follow the lane on to cross a cattle grid onto Mardon Down; follow the road round to the left. The route now runs along the edge of open moorland,
with extensive views over Moretonhampstead and beyond across Dartmoor.
Reach a T-junction and turn left to descend, at times steeply, with a final sharp pull up into Moretonhampstead. On reaching the A382, cross over and go down New Street, alongside the Square. Cross the B3212 by the Coop store and continue down Pound Street. After approximately 0.24km/0.15 miles join the main Dartmoor Way route at the top of Brinning Lane.