Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor Way, High Moor Link – Part 1

The first part of the High Moor Link of the Dartmoor Way is stated on the official website (dartmoorway.co.uk) as being 10.4 miles (16.64 km) starting at Dart Bridge and finishing at Hexworthy (on the Sherberton Road). The walk has a total elevation climb of 2575 ft (785m), with the longest individual climb being from the ‘Double’ Dart near Lower Hannaford Farm (near Deadman’s Corner) up to Dr. Blackall’s Drive, high up on the hillside overlooking the ‘Double’ Dart valley. The walk also includes three other reasonably steep climbs apart from the aforementioned one, being at Langaford Hill, west of Dartmeet Bridge to Huccaby Farm and from Huccaby Bridge up to Clouds Edge on the Sherberton Road

This post of the first part of the High Moor Link was recorded by the author as being 18.18 km (around 11.36 miles) in length. The start point is officially at Dart Bridge, but there is no parking there, so the author called the Dartbridge Inn (located around 500m away on the south side of the A38, Devon Expressway), who kindly allowed parking there for the day. As with all other posts recording the Dartmoor Way, this post records historical features, shows pictures of some far reaching views, wildlife and points of interest – all photographs taken by the author along the route are annotated.

0. Map
Dartmoor Way – High Moor Link Part 1 route map
1. Dartbridge Inn
Dartbridge Inn, a perfect place to start the walk, which has a lovely picture of the Dart Bridge on its sign. Thanks to the staff for allowing the author to park here for the day
2. Dartbridge
Dart bridge, the official starting point of the High Moor Link (Part 1) stage of the Dartmoor Way. The bridge has 4 round arches and was once the main crossing to Buckfast Abbey, hence there must have been a bridge here from early days (circa 13th / 14th century). The present structure dates from the 15th century or early 16th century and was widened on both sides in 19th century
3. Highmoor Link Sign
The first Dartmoor Way sign at the south west side of Dartbridge – we’re on our way!
4a. Fire
There was a major fire in an old quarry near Dartbridge on the day of this walk
4b. Fire
The firebrigade had just turned up when the author passed the scene. Thankfully no injuries
5. Buckfast Road
The way to Buckfast Abbey along Buckfast Road
6. Buckfast Abbey
The first glimpses of St Mary’s Abbey Church at Buckfast Abbey
7. South Gate
The South Gate (Medieval origins) to the Abbey complex. It was listed in 1951. Historically, it has been listed as ‘Buckfast House of Shells and South Gate’ and was once formerly known as ‘Berry’s Forge Mills and South Gate’
8. St. Gregory the Great
Just after the south gate (to the west) is the former infant school, which was built in the very late 19th or early 20th century. The building became a mission church and is now where the monastic community live, named “The Community of St. Gregory the Great”
9. Buckfast Abbey
Buckfast Medieval Guest Hall or Guest House. The structure was built in the 14th century on 12th century foundations and has later alterations. It was formerly listed as the Gate House and St. Theresa’s Cottage or the Grange, or The Abbey Barn.
10. Buckfast Abbey
St Mary’s Abbey Church (on left) and the Modern abbey on site of Medieval Cistercian and Saxon Benedictine abbey (right).
11. Buckfast Crosses
Buckfast Abbey Crosses.
1: E.N (Edward Noel) Masson Phillips, recorded in 1943, (Supplementary Notes on the Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon. (Third Paper)) that the cross with one arm broken away, came from Moor Shop crossroads, to the east of Tavistock. It had been buried under the garden patch in front of the window of the ‘Old Smithy’. It is only the upper portion of a cross of octagonal section. It was found in 1937.
2: The second cross was found by Great Palstone Farm, near South Brent in 1942, when widening the gateway between outbuildings and a low wall. Its original site is unknown but an ancient cross is said to have stood at ‘Stidson Cross’ (on B3372), not far from Great Palstone. The cross is incised on the west face. When found it had been buried below ground and the head had been broken from the shaft. Both parts were unearthed and reunited (ref: Watson, 2007-2017, Devon Crosses)
12. Buckfast Abbey
The foundation stone was laid in the re-building of Buckfast Abbey by Abbot Anscar Vonier on 5th January 1907. Timeline: During the dissolution of monasteries, Buckfast fateful day was 25th February 1539, the re-building started in 1906, the Abbey was consecrated in 1932, the final stone was laid on the tower in 1937, with the final pointing being finished in 1938. The floor wasn’t completed until 2013. 
13. Gardens
Raised beds near North Gate
14. Grange Road
Leaving Buckfast along Grange Road
15. Sign
High Moor Link sign on Grange Road
16. Tythe Maisonette
One of the properties on Grange Road – Tythe Maisonette. It has a ‘George’ letterbox outside
17. Fritzs Grave
Fritz’s Grave crossroads at SX73188 67379. This is mentioned by Crossings Guide (p349). Further to this, the story is picked up in the Dartmoor News in 1996, where it is said that this is the burial location of a tramp, who used to live in a shelter at this crossroads. When he died, he was buried where he had requested, at the site where he lived. It is believed his name may have been Furzes.
18a. Hockmoor Lodge
Hockmoor Lodge, at the junction where the Dartmoor Way passes onto Hockmoor Head
18b. Hockmoor Lodge
Hockmoor Lodge
19. Hockmoor Head
Gate at Hockmoor Head with views to Hembury Woods
20. Hockmoor Head B.S
Hockmoor Head B.S inscribed ‘B’ for Buckfasleigh and ‘BW’ for Buckfastleigh West. The parish of West Buckfastleigh was formed on 31 December 1894, from the rural part of “Buckfastleigh”. The part in Buckfastleigh Urban District became “East Buckfastleigh” but has since been renamed “Buckfastleigh” as a successor parish
21. Holybrook House
Entrance to Holybrook House on the Scorriton Road
22. Cornish Boiler
An old Cornish Boiler, believed to have come from one of the nearby mines, probably Wheal Emma Mine or Brookwood Mine
23. Burchetts Lodge
Burhcetts Lodge, taken on the day the occupants were moving out. There was a huge removal lorry in the driveway.
24. Burchetts Wood Omega
Burchetts Wood National Trust ‘Omega’ sign
25. Entrance to Burhcetts Wood
Looking back (west) at the gateway into Burchetts Wood. The lodge can be seen beyond.
26. Burchetts Wood
Burchetts Wood. Path descends towards Holy Brook
27a. Burchetts Wood Wheelpit
Burchetts Wood wheelpit at SX71616 68395.  Originally thought as likely to be associated with the adjacent old quarry
27b. Burchetts Wood Wheelpit
There are iron bearings of wheel still in situ.
28. Burchetts Wood Wheelpit
Dr Tom Greeves records that verbally he was informed by a Mr Frost of Hawson Stables that the wheel was removed in 1967. It had been used to power a ram supplying water to three properties.
29. Quarry Workings
Old quarry in Burchetts Wood with possible remains of an old building
30. Holy Brook
The track meets Holy Brook
31a. Holy Brook Bridge
Footbridge over Holy Brook alongside a ford
31b. Holy Brook Bridge
Footbridge and ford
32a. Mill Leat Farm
Mill Leat Farm dates to at least the 18th century, although it may have older origins. It is located uphill from the former Holne Corn Mill
32b. Mill Leat Farm
Outbuilding of Mill Leat Farm on the south side of the road
32c. Mill Leat Farm
 Mill Leat Farm : The farmhouse is 18th century (possibly earlier) with the other farm buildings being thought to date to the 19th century.
33a. Mill Leat to Langaford
Footpath between Mill Leat Farm and Langaford
33b. Mill Leat to Langaford
A plethora of Dartmoor Way High Moor Link signs on a post between Mill Leat Farm and Langaford. There are a total of 4 signs here on a single post.
33c. Mill Leat to Langaford
Exiting the footpath (Holne footpath 7) onto Langaford Lane
34. Scorriton and Pupers Hill
View of Scorriton and Pupers Hill from the lane near Langaford
35. Langaford
Langaford House, formerly a farmhouse. It dates from early 16th century and was heightened and remodelled at higher end in early 19th century (ref: Department of Environment, 1986)
36a. QEII Jubilee Stone
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee marker at Langaford. At the base it is inscribed ‘H’ (Holne) and ‘BW’ (Buckfastleigh West)
36b. QEII Jubilee Stone
At the base it is inscribed ‘H’ (Holne) and ‘BW’ (Buckfastleigh West)
37. Langaford Hill
Climbing Langaford Hill. This route, dating as far back as the 11th century was possibly part of a inter-Monastic route between the two great Abbeys at Buckfast (Buckfestre) and Tavistock. It was also known by the moormen (and recorded by Crossing) as the ‘Jobblers or Jobbers’ Path’; indicating a route used by yarn-jobbers to cross the moor.
38. Cat
Cat in the Langaford Hill lane
39. Buckfastleigh Moor
Views to Buckfastleigh Moor from near summit of Langaford Hill
40. Stonehanger
Stonehanger, the first dwelling when approaching Holne via Play Cross
41. Playcross
Play Cross at the junction of the road from Michelcombe to Venford with Holne.
42a. Holne
Holne village sign
42b. Holne
Holne village approaching from the south. Holne is the site of the domesday manor of Holla (around 1360)
43. Church
St. Marys the Virgin was restored in the late 19th century. The church dates from 1300, enlarged in 1500
44a. Church House Inn
The Church House Inn (dating from 1329, with Oliver Cromwell being a famous visitor in the 17th century)
44b. Church House Inn
The pub was originally known as the Tavistock Inn, but came into church possession in 1742. It had originally served as a priest’s house
45. Memorial Bench
Memorial bench outside the Church House Inn reads: “DOT HILLS / 1925-1997 / SHE KNEW THE MOOR”. Lovely sentiment.
46. Butts Cross
Leaving Holne to the north by Butts Cross
47. Holne 2nd Hand Bookshop
Holne 2nd hand books, near Butts Cross. A fabulous array of books being sold for very worthy causes. There is also an incredibly large ‘bee / bus hotel’ here !
48a. Footpath to Newbridge
The footpath from Butts Cross down to Newbridge is also part of the Two Moors Way
48b. Footpath to Newbridge
Footpath between Butts Cross and New Bridge (Holne footpath number 9) affords some fabulous views
49. Double Dart Valley
View from the footpath looking north west to the Double Dart valley, framed beautifully by Sharp Tor in the centre. Dartmoor Way follows the footpath seen climbing the hill to the horizon on the right side of the picture (just above the tree line). The route eventually passes close to the right (north) of Sharp Tor
50. Footpath to Newbridge
Track descending to New Bridge
51. Double Dart views
Glimpses of the ‘Double’ Dart as one descends on the track
52. Double Dart Collage
The ‘Double’ Dart next to the track
53. Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls as shown on modern OS maps
54a. New Bridge
Approach to New Bridge
54b. New Bridge
New Bridge is thought to date from 15th century. There are historical mentions of repairs made in 1645.The bridge cross the boundary between Widecombe parish (west) and Holne Parish (east)
54c. New Bridge
New Bridge consists of two main arches across the river with a smaller third arch crossing the Widecombe (east) bank.
55. Path to Lower Hannaford
Track through the Dart Valley Nature Reserve on the east side of the ‘Double’ Dart
56. Walling
Boundary wall of Lower Hannaford
57. Lower Hannaford
Lower Hannaford Farm sign. Lower Hannaford is shown on 19th century map as a group of buildings around an irregular shaped yard. The Tithe Apportionment for ‘Lower Hannaford’ lists Field Number 1995 as ‘House Road & Waste’.
58a. Path by Lower Hannaford
Path near Lower Hannaford
58b. Deadman's Corner
Deadman’s Corner as shown on modern OS maps
59. Climbing Hill to Dr Blackalls Drive
Track beyond Deadman’s Corner climbing the hill towards Aish Tor and Dr. Blackall’s Drive
60. Looking east back down the hill
Looking back on the track after first part of the climb
61. Climbing Aish Hill
Long climb from the Deadman’s Corner to Aish Tor (as marked on map). There appears to be a large swathe here which may have been deliberately cut as a fire break
62. Dr Blackalls Drive
Dr. Blackall’s Drive. At this point the Dartmoor Way shares the route with The Two Moors Way. Dr. Thomas Blackall was a successful doctor who lived at Maryfield in Pennsylvania, Exeter. Following the death of his father (John Blackall) in 1860, he used his inheritance to purchase the manor of Spitwick in 1867, as a country retreat (ref: Wikipedia). During the 1880s, Dr. Blackall instructed a Gerald Warren (Eric Hemery, High Dartmoor, p.587) to construct a scenic drive where he could take his carriage to best show off the beauty of the Dart valley for himself and his guests. There are records which suggest Dr. Blackall’s wife couldn’t walk and it was primarily for her the drive was constructed
63. Tors from Dr Blackalls Drive
View from Dr. Blackall’s Drive looking north west. The (obvious) tors in the pictures are Bench Tor, Sharp Tor and Mel Tor
64. Brake Corner
Track branch near Brake Corner
65. Bench Tor
Close up of Bench Tor across the valley. There are said to be at least three tors here
66. Colour
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
67. Dr Blackalls looking east
Dr. Blackall’s Drive featured in the Great Western Railway guidebook to Devon in 1906 as “not to be missed”. The drive climbs from an elevation of 682 feet (208 m) near the manor to 1,141 feet (348 m) at the top. It is around 2-3m wide
68. Dr Blackalls looking west
Following Dr. Blackall’s Drive westwards. The white building in the centre of the picture is Rowbrook House
69. Double Dart
Zoomed in view of North Hessary Mast. Also in the picture the end point of this first part of the High Moor Link of the Dartmoor Way can be made out at Hexworthy
70. Mel Tor and Sharp Tor
Sharp Tor (left) and Mel Tor (right)
71. Bel Tor
Bel Tor (on private land)
72. Near Bel Tor
Track narrowing near Bel Tor as it snakes through field enclosures, near a point known as Stumble Corner (ref: Mike Brown) or ‘Stumley Corner’ (ref: Eric Hemery)
73. Mel Tor
Mel Tor
74a. CNG 1999 - Beloved
Next to the tarmac road leading to Rowbrook House is an inscribed (probable) old gatepost. It is inscribed “CNG 1999 / BELOVED”. The author is unaware of the story behind the inscription
74b. CNG 1999 - Beloved
The inscribed “CNG 1999 / BELOVED” stone with Sharp Tor beyond. The stone appears to have some ironwork on it confirming its previous status as a gatepost. It is located at SX68973 73050
75a. Sharp Tor
Passing Sharp Tor to the north
75b. Sharp Tor
Pony with Sharp Tor beyond
75c. Sharp Tor
Ponies with Sharp Tor beyond. The pony in the foreground decided to ‘nudge’ the author as he passed by
75d. Sharp Tor
Sharp Tor and its little brother (Little Sharp Tor) plus Mel Tor beyond
76. Views from Vag Hill
Vag Hill, looking west towards East Dart Valley and Dartmeet
77. Yar Tor
Descending Dartmeet Hill looking north to Yar Tor
78. Coffin Stone
Coffin Stone on Dartmeet Hill. From mid 13th century until the early 20th century, the deceased from the Hexworthy and Dartmeet areas had to be carried to Widecombe for burial. Dartmeet Hill would have been quite a struggle for the pall-bearers and the ‘Coffin Stone’ at SX67739 73307 would have been a convenient place to stop. On the stone (now split in two) are at least four sets of inials initials (EB, IP, SC and AC). The initials SC and AC are believed to represent Samuel Caunter of Dartmeet and Aaron Cleave of Hexworthy respectively (ref: Dartmoor Crosses). Sabine Baring-Gould (1900) in ‘A Book of Dartmoor’ states that the stone has at least five crosses cut on it and which was split in half by lightning!
79a. David Huntley stone
At SX67560 73298, near the road up Dartmeet Hill is an upright, inscibed with ‘DH’ on it. This relates to a rather tragic and sad story of David Huntley who had a motor accident and lost his life here in 1997.
80. Dartmeet Clapper
Dartmeet Clapper Bridge. William Crossing, in his book Amid Devonia’s Alps, written in 1888, (in the section ‘A Long Tramp’) on page 65, gives 1826 as the year of its destruction by flood. Some of the slabs and collapsed former imposts can be seen wedged between boulders in the river. In his famous ‘Guide to Dartmoor’, first published around 1912, William Crossing on page 457 adds that “the bridge was partly restored about 20 years ago but some stones have since been displaced”.
81. Dartmeet Road Bridge
Dartmeet road bridge from upstream on the East Dart River. The bridge was constructed in 1792.
82. Dartmeet Road Bridge Benchmark
Benchmark and rivet on Dartmeet Bridge. The reference is B.M. 0751.8
83. East Dart
From Dartmeet Bridge looking north towards the old clapper bridge
84. Dartmeet
From Dartmeet Bridge looking south. The meeting of the two Dart rivers can just about be discerned from this point
85a. Dartmeet Cottage
Dartmeet Cottage as viewed from the bridge
85b. Dartmeet Cottage
Dartmeet Cottage
86. Signpost
Signpost (with Dartmoor Way circle) showing the direction of the footpath to Huccaby at the corner next to Huccaby Cottage
87. The Coachhouse
The Coach House next to the footpath
88a. Cows
Climbing the hill towards Huccaby, passing by a herd of cows and calves. They were very docile
88b. Cows
Climbing the hill and leaving the cows and calves behind
89. Ruin
This substantial barn at SX66917 73158 is depicted on the Lydford Tithe Map, within a field of pasture. It is referenced 1044 on the apportionment. It was part of the Huckaby estate, owned and occupied by William Norrish. Greeves, in 1984, Barn on hill above Dartmeet Bridge recorded the following: “Substantial two storey barn built on hillslope with access to upper storey from higher side. Likely to be of 18th century date as no drilled stone has been used in its construction though it has been repointed fairly recently”.
90. Holloway
Holloway lane climbing the hill to the west of Dartmeet
91. Top of Hill and Hexworthy
Near the top of the hill looking west towards Hexworthy, just a couple of km to go from this point
92. Leaving the Hill
Leaving the hill before descending the lane to Huccaby Farm, St. Raphael’s and Huccaby Bridge
93. Huccaby Farm - polling station
This walk was completed on 4th July 2024, election day. The polling station at Huccaby Farm had 70 registered voters. Huccaby farmstead dates to at least the late 13th century. According to Gover, Mawer, and Stenton , Huccaby was named as : ‘la Woghebye’ in 1296 document, ‘Woghby’ (1317), ‘Woghebi’ (1340), ‘Hogheby(e)’ (1417), ‘Hoockaby’ (1573), ‘Hookeby’ (1608). Name thought to derive from the Old English ‘woh’, meaning crooked, and ‘byge’ meaning bend, curve; a reference to the big loop of the West Dart here
94a. St Raphaels
St Raphael’s Chapel dates from 1868, was erected by Reverend H. Fuller. St. Raphael’s was built as a mission chapel. William Crossing stated it was built on some ruined old cottages that were thatched with rye straw.
94b. St Raphaels
Inside St. Raphaels. There are plaques remembering Robert Burnard’s daughter, Olive Munday and his grand daughter, Sylvia Sayer can be found in the church. Sylvia Sayer was a patron of the Dartmoor Preservation Association, which had been created by her grand father. The good shepherd window, was donated by the Adams family of Huccaby, in memory of Edward Adams, who died in 1888 aged only 11 years.
94c. St Raphaels
School desks and blackboard
95. VR Box
Victoria letterbox outside the chapel
96. Fairy in a tree
This little fairy was found in a tree alongside the road between Huccaby Farm and Huccaby Bridge
97. West Dart
The West Dart
98. C Stone
The ‘C’ (County) stone on the (north) east side of Huccaby bridge. The ‘C’ Stone is located at SX65988 72895.
99. Huccaby House
The entrance of Huccaby House. The house was built for Reverend Edward Harris in 1875 as a fishing lodge. Charles Burnard bought the lease from the Duchy of Cornwall in 1883 and Robert Burnard (the renowned author, Dartmoor antiquarian, photographer and founder of the Dartmoor Preservation Association) lived there from 1904. Robert Burnard established the Dartmoor Preservation Association in 1883 and was the grandfather of Lady Sylvia Sayer. 
100a. Huccaby Bridge
Hexworthy or Huccaby road bridge over the West Dart river was constructed in the late 18th century. The bridge is split into 3-span segmental arches with projecting keystones. The central arch considerably wider than its counterparts on either side. The divided by triangular cutwaters have been built in diminishing courses.
100b. Huccaby Bridge
Upstream from the bridge is a popular swimming location. There is a benchmark (reference B.M. 0831.6) on the bridge. It is located on the north side of the south parapet at SX65897 72880
101. Steps
Step stile near Huccaby Bridge which leads to Hexworthy hamlet
102. Sign
High Moor Link sign near the step stile
West Dart Valley from the footpath
104. Stone Stile
Another stone stile en-route to Hexworthy Hamlet
105a. Hexworthy Hamlet
Part of Hexworthy Hamlet
105b. Hexworthy Hamlet
Looking across to Hexworthy Hamlet from the footpath
106a. Thatch
Western farmstead at Hexworthy is marked on the Lydford Tithe Map as a tenement (1115 on the apportionment) and described as having ‘Dwelling house, Outhouses, Court and gardens’, owned by Richard Stranger, occupied by John Hamlyn.  The farmhouse has survived into modern times and is known as ‘Thimble Hall’.
106b. Thatch
Climbing the hill around the Western and North Western farmsteads at Hexworthy
107. Clouds Edge
Clouds Edge, the last dwelling before the Sherberton Road
108. Sherbeton Road - the end
The car park on the Sherberton Road, the end of part 1 . start of part 2 of the High Moor Link of the Dartmoor Way
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