Ian Wright

I did the walk as a backpack so carried four days food and tent etc. Tent was Helium 100. After doing the South Downs Way and the Ridgeway the Two Moors Way sounded like the next sensible challenge. It’s about 107 miles long and snakes from coast to coast between Wembury, just east of Plymouth, in the south and Lynmouth on the north coast, taking in both Dartmoor and Exmoor. I arranged to stay at a campsite at Brixton, about five miles from the start, and drove down on the day before I began the walk, taking the opportunity to reconnoitre where I could leave the car and the start itself. So, on Thursday 2 September I set off from the coast into what was essentially an agricultural landscape but still pleasant nonetheless. Ironically, the route passed about 200 metres away from the campsite I had stayed at the night before. After going through Yealmpton and along a leafy glade beside a river I emerged from a wood to find a slightly irate lady who had gone through the wrong gate and then found she was stuck in the next field. We were both heading for Ivybridge so after regaining the route we walked together. I stopped at Hettie’s for tea and teacake before climbing out of Ivybridge and heading out onto Dartmoor proper. The track is well defined so navigation wasn’t a problem initially and I could take in the expansive views. Despite the ideal conditions I only met two people coming the other way. Dartmoor always has a desolate bewitching feel and it was a beautiful afternoon which showed the moor at its best. I was heading for a bunkhouse at Holne and eventually the route came off the track and dropped down to the River Avon at the clapper bridge. The path went eastwards for a few hundred metres and then turned slightly northeast from there. I struggled to find the path initially and then managed to turn too early and soon found myself struggling through huge tufted clumps of grass with boggy bits in between. Apart from making very slow progress all the sliding around was very hard on the feet. Eventually I spotted some drystone walls that gave me my position accurately and was able to rejoin the path and head down into Scoriton and Holne. The navigation error had delayed me and it was almost dark by the time I reached the bunkhouse, which, it turned out, had been closed about eight years earlier. Poor preparation indeed, but a nearby farm came to the rescue and they not only allowed me to camp in their garden but brought me ratatouille, fruit crumble and tea, a most welcome feast after covering almost thirty miles. Day two saw me complete the Dartmoor section and move into a more agricultural landscape which was fine but included a fair amount of road walking. Towards the end of the day I walked past Castle Drogo and into Drewsteignton. It was a lovely balmy evening and the entire village seemed to be either in the pub or sitting outside it. Unfortunately, due to staff shortages, they only had one person working behind the bar so I duly waited my turn for my usual pint of lime and soda and tea. The delay meant that, once again, it was almost dark before I reached my objective for the day and, finding a good field, I knocked on the farm door. The chap could not have been more helpful and not only told me to camp wherever I liked but also pointed out a tap I could use to replenish my water supplies. The next morning was a beautiful sunrise but a very heavy dew made everything sopping wet. I was soon on my way and all went well until I encountered an unexpected closure of the footpath where it crossed a railway line near Colebrooke. Having just descended a hill I wasn’t about to turn round so managed to scramble round one end of the fencing through some dense bushes, crossed the line and repeated the process the other side. Unfortunately, this did leave one of my arms bleeding, which probably didn’t do much to improve my slightly scarecrow-like appearance. The weather was still perfect and I made good progress, stopping at Witheridge for my usual lime and soda and tea before heading on. I wanted to pitch in daylight but I wasn’t in open moorland territory and would have to ask someone for permission to camp on their land. Fortunately, when I approached an elderly couple they invited me to camp in their field and, a few minutes later, while I was cooking my evening meal, the chap brought me a chilled bottle of beer, most welcome at the end of a long hot day. Day four and the first part of the walk was mostly on very quiet lanes which allowed me to cover the ground fairly quickly and I started to see signs of Exmoor. A winding route through woodland beside the River Barle took me to Withypool, where I stopped for an ice cream before what felt like a long section into Simonsbath. After a short pit stop at the pub I headed out onto the moor and pitched at Dure Down with only some sheep for company as the light faded into a beautiful sunset. EDITOR’S NOTE Wild camping is not permitted on Exmoor without permission of the landowner. I only had about ten miles to go and set off bright and early on the Monday morning. At this point the Two Moors Way joins the Tarka Trail for the last few miles into Lynmouth and, once again, conditions were perfect. The path runs beside a river and as I rounded a small spur I came face to face with a group of deer. It was hard to tell which of us was more surprised. They swiftly moved off but I managed to take a couple of photos as they disappeared over the top of the valley. I eventually started to see signs of civilisation again and crossed a road before a lovely section through woodland above Watersmeet. My feet were in a poor state by this time and the last section was more demanding than would have been ideal, with a series of ups and downs along a very winding path. There was even a sting in the tail with a very steep final descent into Lynmouth which was a bit painful to say the least. I emerged from between some houses beside a car park and gently walked the last few hundred metres into Lynmouth, past some cafes and shops, already busy with tourists at 10.30am. To stop walking felt great and I looked around for a suitable place for some well earned refreshment. The one place that wasn’t open was the fish and chip shop, so after signing the book at the information centre I settled for a delicious pasty and pot of tea. After sitting down for a while walking again was a bit of a challenge but the logistics of getting back to the start worked perfectly and two trains and two buses later I was reunited with my car. Overall, a lovely route, I had enjoyed the beautiful scenery and met some very helpful people along the way. The middle section was more agricultural than moorland but was just as pleasant. I was walking rather gingerly for a few days but it was a small price to pay for a great experience.
Start point: Wembury
Finish point: Lynmouth
Distance travelled: 107 miles
Started: 31/08/2021
Walking time: 4.5 days