A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park
June 14, 2023
Lych Path – Crossing the Tavy and Baggator Brook
The Lych Way (or Lich Way) was a Medieval ‘Way of the Dead’, a route by which the deceased of the early farm settlements on the east side of the Forest of Dartmoor would have been carried in their coffins to Lydford Church. This practice continued until 1260, when the tenants of the farms were granted an episcopal dispensation to use the parish church of Widecombe in the Moor if that were closer.
William Crossing wrote of the Lych Way (in 1912): “Although portions of it are now obliterated, it can still be traced for a considerable distance”. The author has completed the ancient trackway on two occasions (both overnight) and has always been intrigued by the exact historic route that would have been taken to cross Baggator Brook and the Tavy. This part of the route between what is now Brousentor Farm and Higher Willsworthy might be a portion of the way which Crossing wrote as being obliterated in 1912.
Richard Hansford Worth (in Worth’s Dartmoor) and Eric Hemery (in Walking Dartmoor’s Ancient Tracks) offer an ‘authentic’ Lych Way route which crossed the Baggator Brook by means of an ancient clapper (just downstream from the more modern bridge linking Brousentor and Standon), skirting Baggator Marsh, passing through Standon Farm enclosures to Standon Steps, where the Tavy was crossed. The ancient clapper was photographed by Worth (Plate 78 in Worth’s Dartmoor) and was sketched by Eric Hemery (approx 40-50 years later) in his publication. In spite of the information provided by Worth and Hemery, the aforementioned clapper is very difficult to locate and the author suspects hasn’t been visited for a considerable number of years.
This post provides a photographic record of the state of the ancient Lych Way clapper (in June 2023) and considers all the alternative routes for the Lych Way crossing both Baggator Brook and the Tavy.
Worth’s Dartmoor, Page 396 and Plate 78 – Richard Hansford Worth
Walking Dartmoor’s Ancient Tracks, Pages 233 to 236 – Eric Hemery