This walk is part of the trek Devon's Coast-to-Coast : Plymouth to Wembury and on to Lynmouth.
There are basically two parts to the seventh stage; Morchard Bishop to Witherage and then Witherage to Knowstone, both 8 milers and through interesting Mid Devon agricultural landscape. We follow the River Datch for a while to reach Washford Pyne, then follow the Little Dart River. We meet the Ridge and Valley Walk at Witherage and, cross over the A 371.
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) Leave Morchard Bishop via Church St. heading initially east as far as the school and the 15th century Church of St Mary the Virgin. Apparently, a meteorite struck the church tower in 1952, causing some structural damage. The path leads off left from the road, strangely enough into a car park but then exits the car park on the other side and heads north across the fields. The path bears right to enter Morchard Wood and come out onto a road through a metal gate near Beech Hill farm. Turn left along Cuckoo Hill road to a stile by a metal gate about 50m further along. The path gently descends by a stream to wood then bears left, across a stream and up to Lower Brownstone farm. Use the path off to the left just before the farm, then onto the farm track to gain the road. Cross over the road and go along a track (indicated Orchard End Kennels & Cattery) to go through fields, then down to a stream and woods. Cross the stream and head east up the other side to reach another road through a metal gate. Cross over the road and go through the right hand metal gate and go down across the field in a westerly direction to cross the stream near Cobscome farm. Climb up the other side, bearing left through the wood and skirting around the farm to reach a road. Turn right along Copstone Hill road to pass the entrance to the farm and into the hamlet of Lower Black Dog.
(1) After passing a group of buildings, the route turns off left, along a track through a wooden gate that goes to Pyne farm. Keep on this track heading north to cross a stream and go past the farm, then take the path straight ahead at a crossroads of paths and head for Wonham farm. The path leads away from the farm on the other side, with views down to the left of the River Datch. Keep heading north east, across a stream and through Washford Wood. At the far corner of the wood, turn right up a track to reach the road next to some farm buildings. Turn left along the road to reach Washford Pyne.
(2) The church is dedicated to Saint Peter and the base of the tower dates from the 15th century with the rest of the church rebuilt in 1882. Turn left just before the church, along a muddy lane by the side of a residential building and descend to the footbridge over the River Datch. Go straight up the other side to reach Stourton Barton farm. Carry straight on along a cemented road, heading north past some ponds and up to the road next to some farm buildings. Go straight across the road through a metal gate and across the field to Millmoor farm. Bear slightly right to cross the road and go down another lane to Woodford farm. Go straight past the farm, through the fields, over a stream and up the other side to meet the Ridge and Valley Walk near Cannington farm. Go through the kissing gate onto Wiriga Way and head straight for the church tower past all the houses using the alleyways to reach West Street. Head straight into The Square at Witherage.
(3) Check out the church and the old stocks next to the telephone box. There are a couple of shops and a couple of pubs in Witherage, so it might be a good place for lunch. Otherwise, head down Church St. (A 3137) past The Angel and The Mitre to the crossing with West St. (on the right) and bear left along North St. past the playground. Go through a kissing gate on the left just past the playground and follow the high hedge to the fields. Here, bear right to go down to the woods Yeo Copse and the Little Dart River. Keep on a north easterly heading over a stream and then follow the Little Dart River along to the Bradford Moor Plantation and past Bradford Pond to meet a road through a metal gate near a residential building. Turn left along Bradford Moor Hill road to reach a junction on the right (indicated Oakford) and straight onto the bridge over the Little Dart River. Stay on the road past Broadford Mill and up to a Lodge (with a red post box in one of the entrance pillars). Just after this, there is a fork in the road, bear left ignoring the main road (indicated for Rackenford) and head past Bradford Barton.
(4) Keep on the road heading north for a while, passing near Bradford farm to reach another fork in the road, Crowdhall Cross. This time bear right, ignoring the road to the left (indicated Meshaw and Rose Ash) and continue until you reach the crossroads at Creacombe Parsonage Cross. Here turn right (indicated for Rackenford) and follow the road north east to a junction at Creacombemoor Cross. Bear right ignoring the road to the left (indicated for Creacombe) and stay on a roughly north easterly heading passing Creacombemoor Cottage to reach another junction facing Toll House farm. No prizes for guessing what the white building was used for in the past, so bear left to pick up a path on the other side of Waterloo Hill road, heading north through the trees. This will take you past North Backstone Piggeries and on to Canworthy Common.
(5) Head for the woods and use the path along the eastern border of Moortown Moor woods (the one straight ahead). When the path meets the road down some steps, turn left to head northwest. The area on the right is Knowstone Outer Moor, managed by the Devonshire Wildlife Trust (designated SSSI and SAC) you might see Devil's-bit scabious (blooms between July and October). You can wander across the moor on the other side of the hedge but keep parallel with the road until you reach a small car park. Cross the Sturcombe River near the car park (Great Comfort farm is over to the left). Take the path going off and down to the right just after the bridge and follow the river northeast to go under the A 361. The path turns up left along Knowstone Inner Moor. If you are quiet, you might be lucky enough to see Red Deer up close. The path comes out onto a road near a cattle grid. Turn left along the road to a crossroads and turn right following the sign for Masons Arms Inn. Follow this road across the cattle grid, past West Bowden farm (B&B) to a left hand bend in the road, to go through a metal gate on the right (the middle of three gates). Cross over the fields, heading for the church tower and the path goes through the church grounds to come out opposite the Masons Arms Inn at the pretty village of Knowstone.(A)
D : mi 0 - alt. 541ft - Morchard Bishop
1 : mi 3.45 - alt. 630ft - Lower Black Dog
2 : mi 5.05 - alt. 577ft - Washford Pyne
3 : mi 7.01 - alt. 610ft - Witherage
4 : mi 9.14 - alt. 587ft - Bradford Barton
5 : mi 12.12 - alt. 843ft - Canworthy Common
A : mi 14.58 - alt. 686ft - Knowstone
As always, make sure your boots are comfortable and you have your waterproofs in the pack. There's a fair bit of road walking but also some fields and streams to cross, so there might be muddy stretches but also firm tarmac to tread. The obvious lunch stop is Witherage, where there are shops and pubs. The route goes through a good number of farms where you should be able to get your water bottle filled up.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
There is a variety of things to look at along the way. A number of churches and thatched buildings. The Knowstone Inner and Outer Moors are places where you might spend time exploring or just enjoying the landscape and the flora and fauna it contains. Always have a friendly chat with the locals and the paths through woods and close to rivers are always special places. Enjoy the route and look out for wildlife along the way. Don't rush, just enjoy the journey and make the most of the moment.
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