Voices from the Moor….

Follow the sign!

During three weekends in 2017 Bob and I and a group of like-minded individuals from the Pathfinders walking club completed the Two Moors Way.  It was an interesting walk, starting and finishing on the coast. The beginning of the trail was graced with stunning sunshine, the end with a mixture of rain and occasional sun. The terrain varied greatly as did the accommodation but all in all it was an excellent walk.  Now rather than waffling on as usual I would like to pass the pen or keyboard over to others. So are you sitting comfortably? Then let the voices from the moors begin:-

Catherine:-

It’s very hard to encapsulate ‘The Two Moors Way’ in a few paragraphs as it was such an amazing long trail. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, but these are the highlights:

  • The lovely beach at Wembury where I wanted to linger longer but couldn’t as I knew that the group needed to embark on the long but delightful route to Ivybridge.
  • My first encounter of the barren, isolated moorlands of Dartmoor with their interesting Bronze age remains, clapper bridges, old boundary markers and ancient stone rows. I felt that the landscape had many hidden stories to tell of lives of centuries past.
  • The first time in my life that I had ever spotted the amazing humming bee moth, Fran and I were very privileged to see it on our descent from the moors into Widdecombe.
  • Green Hairstreak

    The wonderfully camouflaged green hairstreak butterfly resting on the thorny gorse and the beautifully patterned Fritillary butterfly braving the windswept landscape of Dartmoor.

  • My first view of the iconic, beautiful Dartmoor pony (with a foal !!)

Other highlights are:

Common Cow-wheat

The abundance of wild flowers: marsh orchids, bog asphodel, foxgloves, meadowsweet, ragged robin, common cow-wheat , lousewort and numerous others (far too many to mention!). Including ones, I’d never seen before such as Navelwort nestling in the old Devon walls and stony banks.I managed to miss (on several occasions!) the elusive Kingfisher despite John’s enthusiastic sightings but spotted several beautiful Dippers bobbing with their chunky tails on the banks of the River Barle.

Hairy wild cow

I mustn’t miss out the wonderful glimpses of red deer on the moor sides and the very hairy but seemingly passive wild cows on the very edge of Exmoor.Finally, Horner Wood was a truly magical place the ‘String of sausages’ lichens (Usnea articulata) seemed to be dripping from the branches of the trees like natures decorations and I couldn’t believe how many ferns were growing on the ancient oak trees. What an amazing walk and how privileged we were to be able to cross those magnificent moorlands of Dartmoor and Exmoor carry our precious pebble from the English Channel to the Irish sea!!!

PS Obviously the whole experience was made even better by the superb accommodation, food and company!!

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Roger:-

Happy trekkers

only did the first and last weekends but thoroughly enjoyed it. The first weekend was very varied – starting at the scenic pebble beach at Wembury gradually gaining height onto Dartmoor on the second day with its barren landscape and rain – you probably have to experience this to appreciate it at its challenging best and this made the third day even more spectacular – a beautiful walk along the River Dart on a sunny day! These two consecutive days makes you realise how very different Dartmoor is – one minute bleak and desolate and the next stunningly beautiful.

The last weekend across Exmoor and on into Lynmouth was again wonderful – beautiful walks along rivers and streams with panoramic views and a fair amount of ups and downs! On this last weekend the accommodations and food could not be faulted – what better way to spend a long weekend with friends – everyone should try it if they can, it’s well worth the effort and there’s always a sense of achievement at the end. Give it a go – you don’t know what you’re missing!

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Sue E:-

A hiking we will go

When the 2 Moors was first muted I was a bit worried at the thought of such a mammoth task. It turned out to be very varied in landscape, weather and accommodation!!!!

The first weekend was on Dartmoor with fantastic views,weather and accommodation.The only down side was Saturday which started fine but got wetter and wetter. We arrived at the digs dripping water everywhere while waiting for our rooms. Carol H and I always share even though I snore badly, thanks carol for your devotion to duty!!

During the second weekend the weather was very warm but luckily we had a lot of tree cover. The end of the walk took us to Drewsteighton, a lovely quaint village with pub which housed our lodgings!!! The beer was very welcome before some of us were shown our rooms. They were bunk rooms! Martin had to sleep diagonally as he is well over six foot. Ann, Catherine, Carol and myself shared a room, 10×10, very cramped and cosy!! The others girls shared another room in the bunk house. Although the accommodation left a lot to be desired the saving grace was that the pub served excellent food.

The sun shone brightly the next morning with less tree cover as off we trotted. Desperate for a drink at our pick up point after the heat, the pub was sighted but NO, NO, it was shut!!! Great though, the village shop was open for ice creams…. Sunday was hot sun again but the walk was in woods by a river. I longed to jump in but thought better of it!

The third and final weekend – a lot had happened in my life since the previous weekend and I must thank everybody for their support and kind wishes. Our first walk was 14 miles to Withypool where Carol and I had our own little cottage. Saturday morning, guess what RAIN! It was a short walk to our hotel but no luggage had arrived! Two hours later the luggage came, HEAVEN, we were now able to go down to the lounge of this wonderful 14th century house. The evening meal was excellent and the host did us a quiz, great end to the day. Sunday was dry as walked to Lynmouth to the end of the trail and threw our stones into the sea.

I shall always remember this trail as I think we all bonded and really enjoyed our time together. Thank you to all who arranged it Malcolm, Anne, and leaders Colin and Bob and thanks to Carol for her support.

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Martin:-

The Two Moors Way in three times three day weekends in May, June and October 2017 was a first for me. The first time I have walked consecutive days, the first time I had been away with a walking Group and the first time I had shared a room (apart from my wife) in 20 years. It was also the first time I had walked in Devon. Well , Devon was fine,  gorgeous and varied scenery (slightly less so in the middle) and people contrary to folklore, who were welcoming, funny and genuinely seemed to  like visitors to their home. I never felt less than welcome. The accommodation, like the scenery was also varied from a basic bunkhouse (a stable in a car park really) to sole use of a luxurious four poster bedroom with outstanding views of Exmoor. Irrespective of the quality of the rooms the food was always tasty, freshly prepared and substantial. Local beers assisted in the nightly feeling of well being. The thought of walking three days consecutively frightened me but turned out to be easier than imagined, the biggest difficulty being finding enough places in a room to hang clothes out to dry when the weather was wet. Each day  was a mixture of quiet contemplation and varied conversation. Some members of the group were more sociable than me but I always felt comfortable mixing the two types of walking and I hope the others didn’t  find me too miserable or  withdrawn.

Smile you’re on camera

Finally, the people. We were a mixture of  about 15 walkers, couples, singles and families from early twenties to mature. Everybody contributed something from the massive task of planning the daily routes and accommodation, leading the walks across desolate countryside, to friendly encouragement, getting a round in or driving the long road back to the Midlands after three exhausting days.I feared being closeted with the group could lead to uncomfortable situations, but I found that at the end I liked everybody  more than when I started. In fact I enjoyed every minute of every day.

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Sal:-

The Two Moors Way – personal thoughts.

Looking back over the 3 weekends, I have a sense of pleasure and also one of achievement. When faced with a walk of 14 miles or more, with a significant (to me, anyway) amount of ascent, I often feel daunted, wondering if I can complete the day’s walk and keep up with the group. The first two weekends are now months in the past – April and June – so my freshest memories are of the last weekend, walking across Exmoor, arriving in Lynmouth. Highlights include waking up on Friday morning to the sounds of cows mooing and geese wandering past the window. I expected to find the day’s walk quite hard, considering the length and ascent involved. However, thanks probably to the wonderful and varied scenery, and the unbelievably good weather, my fears were mainly unfounded. On Saturday, the constant rain during the morning reminded us of where we were walking. Hindsight being a wonderful thing, why didn’t we start walking once the weather had improved, midday, as we only had 6 or 7 miles to go that day? Most of us found our ‘waterproof’ clothing not quite up to the challenge! On Sunday, our last day, we were lucky enough to catch sight of several deer on Exmoor. I also liked the sheep, that seemed to have had a shampoo and blow-dry in preparation for our visit, and the shaggy cows, much like Highland cattle, but without horns. Another lovely day took us down, and down, and down again into Lynmouth. I threw the pebble from Wembury beach into the sea, and tried cleaning some of the mud off my boots.

Cleaning the boots

In conclusion, it was an achievement for me, one which I could never had made, without the wonderful group from Pathfinders. I value not only the expert planning that goes into each weekend, but also the company along the way. Encouragement, jokes, teasing and general friendly chat are a vital support to keep me going. Thanks to all my fellow walkers for a wonderful shared experience.

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Anne:-

Two Moors Way Accommodation

On 28 June 2016, Malcolm Fellows eagerly wrote an email to all Pathfinders Solihull Club Members saying: “We are now planning for next years ‘Long distance Tough Walk’ and have selected: The Two Moors Way”. The Two Moors Way is also known as Devon’s Coast to Coast path. The route starts at Wembury on the south coast of Devon, and goes along the Plym-Erme Trail to Ivybridge. The Two Moors Way starts from Ivybridge, goes across Dartmoor to Exmoor and eventually finishes at Lynmouth on the north coast of Devon. The total distance is just over 116 miles (187 km). Malcolm identified that it would take 9 days to complete the walk over three separate weekends in 2017. 
By the end of July 2016, Malcolm had received replies from twenty-one club members who were interested in walking along The Two Moors Way. Malcolm then drew up a participant list, a route stage analysis, and gave recommendations for the ideal location for accommodation along the route. I had never participated in a tough trail with the club before, so I was looking forward to the event. As Almoner, I had offered to assist Malcolm, in identifying and booking suitable accommodation for the group to stay overnight along the route.
During the next three months, August, September and October 2016, I sent out many email enquiries to owners of accommodation located along the route of the Two Moors Way. The emphasis was to find suitable accommodation along the route for a reasonable price and within our budget, where the group could stay comfortably, and eat together wherever possible. It transpired that such accommodation was very limited and hard to find. However, we are all extremely grateful that suitable accommodation was eventually found, and booked. Here are details of all accommodation that we stayed in along the route of the Two Moors Way.

Weekend One
Thursday 18th May and Friday 19th May 2017
The Sportsman’s Inn and Ivybridge Hotel, Ivybridge PL21 0BQ
Saturday 20th May 2017
The Tradesman’s Arms, Buckfastleigh TQ11 0JB
Mitchelcroft Bed and Breakfast, Buckfastleigh TQ11 0HU
The Abbey Inn, Buckfastleigh TQ11 0EA

We had a well-deserved drink in the Old Inn in Widecombe, at the end of the first weekend before departing to collect our luggage from Sheena Tower and go home.   

Weekend Two
Thursday 15th June 2017
Sheena Tower, Widecombe in the Moor TQ13 7TE
Manor Cottage, Widecombe in the Moor TQ13 7TB
The Old Inn, Widecombe in the Moor TQ13 7TB
Friday 16th June 2017
The Drewe Arms, The Square, Drewsteignton EX6 6QN
Saturday 17th June 2017
Thelbridge Cross Inn, Thelbridge EX17 4SQ

We all had a well-deserved drink at the Thelbridge Cross Inn together at the end of the second weekend before travelling home.

Weekend Three
Thursday 5th October 2017
West Bowden Farm, Knowstone EX36 4RP
Partridge Arms Farm, Yeo Mill, West Anstey EX36 3NU (Meal only)
Friday 6th October 2017
The Royal Oak Inn, Withypool TA24 7QP
Kings Farm, Withypool TA24 7RE
Saturday 7th October 2017
Simonsbath House Hotel, Simonsbath.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all the above accommodations and their staff for their hospitality and wonderful meals.

On top of the world!

Sunday 8th October 2017
This was our final day of walking along the Two Moors Way from Simonsbath to the end of the walk in Lynmouth.We all met up at the statue marking the end of the walk, opposite the Lynmouth National Park Centre for a group photo. We then went to throw our pebbles into the sea, which we had carried from Wembury Beach. We also managed to get our route passport stamped at Lynmouth National Park Centre. Completion Certificates were also available for all walkers who had completed the Two Moors Way (from South to North) at Lynmouth National Park Centre. After ice creams and coffee along the sea front, we made our way back to the Simonsbath House Hotel to collect our luggage, and then drove back home.
The weekend would not have been possible without the support of the Committee, and we would like to thank them all, especially Colin and Sal Cooper, Malcolm Fellows for his meticulous walk planning for the Two Moors Way, also Bob Walklate for leading us safely across moorland and along the route. We all enjoyed this challenging walk along the Two Moors Way. 

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And there you have it, the voices have spoken. I would just like to add my own appreciation for all the planning, leading and general good companionship from everyone. It was a good walk with good friends, thanks everyone!

If you wish you can add any comments below.

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4 thoughts on “Voices from the Moor….”

  1. What a nice way to encapsulate your walk. Sounds like everyone had a great time and it’s great to read so many different views of the same walk. xxx

  2. A great long distance trail over the wild and beautiful countryside of Devon and Somerset – what a lovely way to spend 3 weekends. The accommodation was just right, the food and drink very good and most welcome at the end of each day walks, but most of all it was the people in the group who made the trek for me, thank you all.

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