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Lydford and Fernworthy Down

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Lydford and Fernworthy Down
Author: Richard, Published: 07 Jul 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Devon, Dartmoor
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Lydford and Fernworthy Down
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 4.5 mile circular walk around Lydford in Devon. The walk starts from near the centre of the village and heads out along the main road and then along a part of the Granite Way and West Devon Way. The return leg of the walk is across Dartmoor via stone tracks crossing rivers and streams.

As you would expect, the walk across Dartmoor can be very wet and boggy after wet weather so good waterproof boots are a must. The Dartmoor tracks are rocky and uneven underfoot in places. Dartmoor is home to free roaming horses, cattle, sheep and ponies so take particular care with dogs.

There are no stiles and two gates. Approximate time 2 hours.

The walk starts from a village public car park situated near the castle and opposite The Castle Inn. Approximate post code EX20 4BH. Public toilets and an information board are available at the car park.

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Walk Sections

Start to Granite Way
Start to Granite Way

Start point: 50.6435 lat, -4.1085 long
End point: 50.6481 lat, -4.0995 long

Turn left out of the car park to take in the castle and the church of St Petroc.

Two castles have been built at Lydford, the first immediately in the wake of the Norman Conquest in 1066. The second castle was built on the site of the first castle in c. 1132 AD. It was a 3-storey tower, commanding a strategic view over much of the surrounding countryside, and was eminently defensible. Its use changed under the reign of Edward I who made the castle the Stannary prison. An order of Parliament during the reign of Henry VIII describes the prison in 1512 as one of the most hanious, contagious and detestable places in the realm, and ‘Lydford Law’ was a by-word for injustice. The Castle is now managed by English Heritage.

The St Petroc’s church was probably rebuilt on the site of an earlier wooden church built in 650 AD that may have been destroyed by the Vikings in 997. The perpendicular gothic style is ostensibly Norman however some of the architectural furniture, for example the font, are of the Anglo-Saxon style (or at latest, early Norman). The church was enlarged in the 13th century, the tower being added in the 15th century. A further enlargement occurred c.1890 with the addition of the vestry and northern aisle.

Retrace your steps passing back past the car park into the centre of the village. Continue along the road passing by St Nicholas Hall and a little later the war memorial on the left, and the village school on the right.

Lydford is situated on the edge of Dartmoor and was until 1987 the largest parish in England. Its origins date back to Anglo-Saxon times when it was an economic powerhouse.

As the road passes through a width restriction turn left at the sign post for The Granite Way.

Granite Way to West Devon Way
Granite Way to West Devon Way

Start point: 50.6481 lat, -4.0995 long
End point: 50.6706 lat, -4.099 long

Continue along the tarmac path taking in the views of the famous Tors of Dartmoor to the right and a tributary of the River Lyd on the left. The tarmac path is on part of the old London Waterloo to Plymouth railway line completed in 1874 and closed to passenger trains in 1968.

The Granite Way is a mainly traffic-free cycle/walkway between Okehampton & Lydford, and is part of the National Cycle Network route number 27 ‘Devon Coast to Coast’ between Ilfracombe and Plymouth.

Look out for the national cycle marker on the right and the platelayer’s hut which is now used as a shelter for walkers and cyclists. After some distance the track ends at a gate. Go through the gate and turn left onto the road and cross over the bridge. Looking to the right you will see the former buildings of the Bridestowe station, now a private residence. The station was used for tourist traffic to Dartmoor and for shipping rabbits form Dartmoor to London for cheap food.

Continue down the road with its beautiful arch of beech trees. Pass the entrance of Blackbroom Farm and then look for a crossroads with a stone track and a West Devon Way signpost. Turn left here.

West Devon Way to Fernworthy Down
West Devon Way to Fernworthy Down

Start point: 50.6706 lat, -4.099 long
End point: 50.6631 lat, -4.1022 long

Go straight ahead along the stone track with trees either side.

The track is perhaps the original main road from Lydford to Okehampton and is shown on early maps.

Follow the stone track downhill until you reach a gate with a bridleway to the right and the byway ahead.

Fernworthy Down to Bolts House
Fernworthy Down to Bolts House

Start point: 50.6631 lat, -4.1022 long
End point: 50.6511 lat, -4.1068 long

Go through the gate and onto Fernworthy Down a western outlier of Dartmoor. Enjoying the views to the right as you progress, follow the path as it descends off the Down, until you come to a small river. Cross using the stone bridge and continue along the track. Pass through the gate ahead and continue on the track uphill.

After a few yards turn left at the junction and follow the narrower path as it turns into the woodland signed West Devon Way. Continuing following the track uphill. The track will be very muddy in wet weather and may have flowing water. Emerge onto a road and turn left to go past Bolts House.

Bolts House to End
Bolts House to End

Start point: 50.6511 lat, -4.1068 long
End point: 50.6462 lat, -4.1051 long

Travel along this road keeping left at the next junction going downhill until you reach the war memorial. Turn right here and follow the road back towards the village car park.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author Richard and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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