Esmé's Cottage, Ivybridge, Devon

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Walking on Dartmoor and the South Hams

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Viaduct walk

Walking from Ivybridge

Esmé's Cottage is located in the old part of Ivybridge. For us, the attraction is that it is possible to walk from the door of the Cottage onto Dartmoor via a well-known local route known as the Viaduct walk. The walk can be joined at the Ivy Bridge itself, just 50 metres from the Cottage. Within 10 minutes you have passed beneath the railway viaduct and are gradually leaving the hustle & bustle of Ivybridge behind. Keeping the River Erme on your right, you enter Longtimber Wood, an area popular with ramblers and dog-walkers, and are soon heading towards the lower reaches of Dartmoor. A number of paths lead off in various directions from the Viaduct walk, so it is advisable to have planned a specific route before setting off.

An alternative to the Viaduct walk is to cross the Ivy Bridge, then turn left and follow the River Erme up-stream past the old paper mill and beyond. This time, keeping the river on your left, the riverside route gently leads up hill towards Harford. Harford Gate and the nearby old church are popular setting off points for moor walkers and lane walkers alike. Again, as you will invariably be led onto Dartmoor or into the maze of lanes, paths and single track roads which criss-cross the moor, it is advisable to have planned a route beforehand.

Check out the Links page to gain a better understanding of the walking opportunities in & around Ivybridge. There are simply too many to mention. Better still, buy an ordnance survey map of the area, or contact the local Tourist Information Office to purchase a walker's guidebook.

Walking on the Moor Covering a land mass of some 954 sq km(368 sq miles), the Dartmoor National Park is a walker's paradise. Public Rights of Way cover some 450 miles of routeway, offering up a range of challenges to suit the needs of beginners and experienced walkers alike. In addition to walkers of all ages and experience levels, the moor also plays host to a range of organised outdoor activities such as orienteering, rock climbing, tor walking, outwards bounds courses and even letterboxing for the younger ones.

Within reasonable striking distance of Ivybridge, villages such as Harford, Cornwood and Shaugh Prior provide welcome stopping off points where walkers can usually find refreshments at a pub, coffee shop or tea house before continuing on their way. As well as being ancient, beautiful and intriguing, the villages of South Dartmoor provide an easy route off of the moor should the weather turn nasty. For those venturing deeper onto the moor, particularly out-of-season when the weather can change for the worse in a matter of minutes, route planning and contingency planning are essential. And look after the wildlife too. Wild ponies roam the moor and often appear approachable. However, be warned - they are wild. The have been known to bite and kick. It is best not to approach them.

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Walking in the South HamsA short drive(or walk for the keen rambler!) due South from Ivybridge and across the main A38 dual carriageway, leads into the heart of the South Hams. The district offers a wealth of rolling fields, undulating landscape, riverside walks, wooded areas and a network of public footpaths which is the envy of the South West. Local towns such as Totnes and Modbury, or further afield to Kingsbridge and Dartmouth, provide ideal starting points for the exploration of the South Hams off the beaten track.

Whilst it is relatively simple to find and follow a circular walk or even navigate short walks from these towns and villages by instinct, it is more advisable to purchase a ramblers guidebook or Ordnance Survey map from the local bookshop or newsagent. There are many examples of enjoyable but challenging inland walks, and it is also possible to combine cliff, estuary or inland walking with a wander through a pleasant Devon town, to create fascinating circular routes for all levels of walker.

Two Moors WayThe ultimate inland walk which the area has to offer is the Two Moors Way. The route, linking Dartmoor with Exmoor, is a challenging cross-county walk of some 102 miles. The route starts(or ends)in Ivybridge, and links to Lynemouth on the northern edge of Exmoor. The towns and villages of Dartmoor offer a number of popular stopping off points for those covering some or all of the route. Ivybridge itself is a popular overnight stay for those about to commence, and for those who have completed what is arguably one of England's most attractive and accessible long distance walks.

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Coastal WalksIt almost goes without saying that the coastline of the South Hams district offers some of the most unspoilt and attractive coastal walking country in the South of England. From Slapton in the East to the City of Plymouth in the West, the region offers an almost endless list of little-known coastal village locations such as Hope Cove, Thurlestone, Bigbury, Wonwell and Mothecombe. Each has a unique offering to be navigated en route, be it windswept cliff-face, expansive sandy beach, rocky outcrop or river ford. And the beauty of this network of paths is that it has been developed to form a small part of the 600 mile South West Coast Path.

Few will venture to complete this route, and even the 90 mile Devon section will be beyond most. This is perhaps why we view the local sections of the pathway more as challenges in their own right than as component parts of a greater entity. Each village and segment of pathway offers something unique, and as we have come to know the area, we choose to walk specific paths based upon the time of year, the weather conditions and the unique characteristics which each path has to offer.

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