Editor's Blog

Dartmoor walking commission cross-fertilisation!

Let me explain: as well as  being editor of Dartmoor Magazine I am also the author of several books of Devon walks (including Dartmoor and Exmoor). As well as writing books and articles I am sometimes lucky enough to get commissioned to check out certain routes when a walking book comes up for reprint. Crimson, publishers of the Pathfinder guides, are at present reprinting some of their titles and have asked me to rewalk a couple of routes.

There is a very satisfying cross-over in much of my work. Last week I checked out a route which starts at Stover Country Park. Stover House (now a school) was built by James Templer II, who had the Stover Canal constructed between 1790 and 1792 from Ventiford to Jetty Marsh in Newton Abbot, to transport clay. James’s son George built the Haytor Granite Tramroad in 1819–20 to link his quarries at Haytor (see photo above) to the Stover Canal, down which the granite could be shipped to Teignmouth and the open sea.

The Haytor Granite Tramway near Holwell Quarry

The Haytor Granite Tramway near Holwell Quarry

The route I followed threw up constant reminders of the influence of the Templer family on this part of South Devon, and their links to Dartmoor. From the lake we followed the Templer Way walking trail through woodland at Stover Park…

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… before reaching Ventiford Basin, the starting point of the two-mile-long canal (and where there is a useful information board for fact checking!).

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At this point too the Pathfinder route coincides with the recently completed multi-use trail (very popular with cyclists), during construction of which a length of the Haytor Granite Tramroad was exposed: the only section as yet discovered outside the National Park (we reported on this in DM120, autumn 2015).

The route then strikes out across damp meadows alongside the meandering River Teign, where evidence of its erosive force (fuelled by so much recent rainfall) was clear.

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Good views of the southern slopes of Dartmoor, and Haytor Rocks – near the start of the granite tramroad  – are enjoyed from the route.

 

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The multi-use trail is rejoined briefly near Teigngrace Lock Bridge, where the disused canal is crossed once more.

Teigngrace Lock

Teigngrace Lock

The return route to Stover gives views of Teigngrace Church, built by James Templer II in 1786, then passes close to Stover School before regaining the woods and Stover Lake. An easy, level walk packed with history and interest, and a satisfying way of revising some of Dartmoor’s industrial history (although it would seem that not everyone agrees with that notion!).

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