A circular walk on Dartmoor, taking in the Avon Dam and its reservoir and part of the Two Moors Way.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D/A) Start at the car park at Shipley Bridge (SX 680 628) and walk north along the tarmac private road alongside the River Avon. Continue along the road past the remains of Brentmoor House (1) and over a bridge (2) until you reach a junction with an unsurfaced track that leads uphill.
(3) Take the track to the right, and climb up until you reach the top of the Avon Dam.
(4) At the dam, take the smaller path beside the water's edge (or where the water's edge should be if there has been a dry spell) and follow the path around the reservoir, crossing Brockhill Stream and passing the remains of an ancient settlement before rejoining the bridleway to the north of the reservoir.
(5) Cross the clapper bridge near Huntingdon Cross, joining the Two Moors Way, and follow the path along the northern side of the stream until you reach a second clapper bridge.
(6) Cross the clapper bridge. At this point paths on the ground may vary from paths shown on the map depending on footfall and vegetation growth, but your aim is to climb the hill in front of you and continue on the Two Moors Way to the south west. The path passes a small building near the brow of the hill (at SX 651 659) and the first of two marker stones.
(7) At the second marker stone (shown on the OS map), turn left and follow the compacted gravel track as it curves around the hill and turns to the south. Follow this track as it winds its way downhill, across a bridge and past Three Barrows hill.
(8) Before you reach a cairn on your right, your route deviates from the Two Moors Way to head left across the moorland. Double-back where the surfaced track is joined by an unsurfaced track that heads back towards Three Barrows, then turn right and follow an indistinct path across the moor towards Corringdon Ball.
(9) The path crosses ancient boundary works, and heads roughly south east. The path is not always clear, but for most of this section you can see the boundary wall at Corringdon Ball ahead of you, which is your next waypoint.
(10) At the Ball Gate (complete with ball-topped gate posts), don't go through the gate but instead turn left and follow the bridleway along the edge of the moor and into a track.
(11) When you reach the minor road, turn left and continue along the road and past a cattle grid until you reach the Shipley Bridge car park once more.
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 745ft - Shipley Bridge car park (SX 680 628)
1 : mi 0.49 - alt. 886ft - Remains of Brentmoor House
2 : mi 0.69 - alt. 889ft - Bridge over the Avon
3 : mi 1.42 - alt. 991ft - Junction with unsurfaced track.
4 : mi 1.77 - alt. 1129ft - Avon Dam
5 : mi 2.97 - alt. 1175ft - Clapper bridge near Huntingdon Cross
6 : mi 3.44 - alt. 1240ft - Clapper bridge
7 : mi 4.1 - alt. 1476ft - Marker stone at gravel track
8 : mi 7.5 - alt. 1365ft - Junction with unsurfaced track
9 : mi 7.76 - alt. 1319ft - Remains of boundary wall
10 : mi 8.84 - alt. 1014ft - Ball Gate
11 : mi 9.71 - alt. 682ft - Minor road
D/A : mi 10.14 - alt. 745ft - Shipley Bridge car park
Ordnance Survey OL28 Dartmoor (south sheet) covers the whole route. Most of the route is also covered by OL20 South Devon.
The car park at Shipley Bridge is open all year round, with an 'honesty box' parking charge of £1. The car park can be very busy on sunny days, as the river banks are a popular spot for bathing and picnics. Older road signs in the area point to 'Avon Dam', newer ones point to 'Shipley Bridge', but both mean this car park.
A snack van selling homemade sandwiches and cakes, plus hot and cold drinks and ices, is often to be found at the Shipley Bridge car park. See facebook.com/CoffeeVanAtAvonDam to find out when it will be there. Nearby South Brent has a pub and cafe as well as local shops.
There are public lavatories at the Shipley Bridge car park.
From Shipley Bridge to the Avon Dam is mostly tarmac, then a rough track. After the dam, paths vary in quality, from narrow paths through the undergrowth to a broad gravel track on the route of the old tramway. The section from (8) to (10) would require a compass in poor visibility.
There is no public transport to Shipley Bridge. A regular bus service runs through South Brent, which is about 2 1/4 miles away from Shipley Bridge on foot.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
(1) A few low walls are all that remaim of Brentmoor House, which was once at the centre of a 3,000 acre estate and latterly a youth hostel. It was demolished in 1968 as it was thought that its proximity to the dam put it at risk of flooding. Shrubs that are the last remnants of its garden still thrive alongside the path.
(4) The Avon Dam was constructed in the 1950s to supply water to South Devon. It holds about 290 million gallons of water, and water flows by gravity from here to most of the South Hams. Water cascading over the spillway after wet weather is a mesmerising sight.
(5) Huntingdon Cross is one of many ancient crosses placed on the moor as navigational aids. It marks the route now known as the Abbot's Way.
The track from (7) to (8) is the remains of the Redlake Tramway, which was built to carry men and materials between Bittaford and the china clay works on the moor.
The trig point just off the route at Three Barrows offers excellent views across Dartmoor and Devon. In theory at least, it's possible to see Swyre Head in Dorset 80 miles to the east from here.
Along the route are the remains of ancient huts and boundary works, and the remains of more recent industry, all testifying to several millennia of human habitation on the moors.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.