Monday, 16 May 2016

Views From Bridges part two - walking Dartmoor from Lustleigh

For the second part of my Views From Bridges post pairing
The old Clam Bridge viewed from the new 
I am turning away from the superb National Theatre production and, instead, talking about actual bridges over which we crossed during our second Dartmoor walk of this season. We chose Number 18: Lustleigh And Becky Falls in our brilliant new Walk Dartmoor book. This walk takes in several pretty villages and hamlets as well as woodland paths and babbling brooks so it was a complete change of scene from our first walk last week.

Beginning by trying to find somewhere to park in the
Lustleigh sheep! 
gorgeous village of Lustleigh - we got lucky with a spot by the church - we were a little disappointed to see that the recommended tea rooms are closed down at the moment. Apparently the owners are retiring so the business is up for sale (and with the same estate agent, Bettesworths, as is selling a furniture shop we had wanted to visit in Newton Abbot). As it turned out, we weren't back in time to indulge in Afternoon Tea anyway! I liked these painted sheep by the church although I am not sure what the reason for their decoration was.

Setting off through a wonderful orchard which is now
Lustleigh May Queens' chair 
recreational space for the village, we passed by the May Queens' throne. The stone chair was designed by Doug Cooper and carved from local Blackingstone Quarry granite by Warren Pappas. It sits is atop a large boulder engraved with the names of all Lustleigh's May Queens from Vivienne Jenkin in 1968 to Abigail Carroll in 2015 and apparently a previous rock has names going back to 1905. The chair was still decorated with this year's May Day flowers, only slightly wilted, so I expect this year's queen, Talia Sullivan, will be immortalised there soon too.

The woodlands around this part of Dartmoor are beautiful,
Woodland near Lustleigh 
especially at this time of year when they are carpeted with bluebells. We saw both blue and white bluebells as we descended from Lustleigh and also pretty two-toned pink purslane flowers. This walk took in a variety of woodland areas with different trees dominating. Some were more open like the picture here, others very overgrown or, like Becky Falls Park, strewn with mossy boulders. The signposting is generally very good so we could often dispense with our book and Ordnance Survey map between waypoints. It was beautifully peaceful with just distant birdsong often the only sounds and we hardly saw any other walkers. We did step aside for two mad mountainbikers and Dave got a comment on his last-year-birthday-present t-shirt:

Our book had mentioned the authors 'gingerly crossing' the
The new bridge 
River Bovey at Clam Bridge and Dave had wondered whether this might be a bridge too far for my vertigo. The old bridge is pictured in the first photo at the top of this post and I think I would have been ok, if nervous. However that slender crossing is now closed and barricaded at each end for safety reasons. We learned that some locals aren't very happy about this even though there is now a new £35,000 bridge right alongside, because it doesn't have the historical significance (or adventure factor) of the original.

Once over the bridge, we continued on to the famous waterfall at Becky Falls. Our route followed a public footpath through the privately owned land and we did catch sight of the brook tumbling, but in order to get good views of the waterfall you need to buy a ticket to the park. Having been so impressed with High Force and Low Force last year we aren't sure yet if we will splash out on Becky Falls too.

Finally, steep climbs up from Hisley Bridge towards Hisley
itself gave us long views out over Lustleigh Cleave and Trendlebere Down. The bridge is an old stone packhorse bridge and has a lovely sense of timelessness to it.

We took quite a bit longer than our book suggested for this walk - 3 1/2 hours as opposed to their 2 1/2. We are putting this down to a combination of too much time spent pointing at things and taking photographs, and to being a tad out of condition for the uphill bits! It's an excellent walk though and we were very happy to have been guided along this route past sights that we probably wouldn't otherwise have found. We finished up with a spot of good luck too: we just got into the village shop as the church clock was striking six so were able to buy ourselves each a delicious and well-earned ice cream before they closed up for the day.

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